PS2J 307 News – Ransomware Quality Control

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Melbits World

      • 2018
      • Co-op puzzle platformer where you team up and use your phone as your controller to guide your characters through challenging, intricate levels
    • Kunai

      • 2020
      • Billed as a quirky, fast-paced action platformer, you play as Tabby, a tablet who joins the fight against a robot uprising using his kunai and ninja-parkour
    • Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

      • 2017 remaster first released in 2008 as a free-to-play mod for the Source engine, then later redeveloped into a commercial release in 2012
      • First person exploration and adventure game that is considered to have started the “walking simulator” genre, it has you exploring an unnamed island in Scotland, listening to a troubled man read a series of letters to his deceased wife
    • Dark Devotion

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game where you explore the secrets of a mysterious fallen temple and put your Templar’s faith to the test
    • Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

      • 1998
      • First person shooter originally released on the N64, it follows Turok’s efforts to stop a powerful alien entity from escaping the confines of his Lightship
    • Reus

      • 2013
      • God game where you control giants that can modify the nature of the planet through terraforming, creating life, and altering genes
    • GRIP: Combat Racing

      • 2018
      • Originally a Kickstarter campaign that I backed in 2015, it raised $154K of its $657K goal before it was taken down, but it was still announced to be pushed into early access
      • High octane hardcore combat racer inspired by Rollcage, Wipeout, Motostorm, and Podracer with gravity-defying twists and heavy weaponry
  • Xbox

    • WRC 8 World Rally Championship

      • 2019
      • The official game of the 2019 World Rally Championship, it’s a simulation rally racing game with new physics for all surfaces and a redesigned career mode
    • Saints Row 2

      • 2008
      • Sandbox action-adventure game that has you leading the Third Street Saints gang against three rivals and the corrupt Ultor Corporation, with a more comedic tone to set the game apart from Grand Theft Auto
  • PS4

    • NBA 2k20

      • 2019
      • Basketball simulation game featuring current and past players and teams, along with up to six custom expansion teams and the ability to relocate and rebrand any time
      • It also included, for the first time, all 12 teams from the WNBA, though they can only be played in one-game exhibition and single-season modes, and the game drew criticism for its gambling-based minigames that overshadowed the basketball in early trailers
    • Rise Of The Tomb Raider – 20 Year Celebration

      • 2016 update to the 2015 release, with updates including coop play and classic outfits as well as combat-free exploration and zombie modes
      • Action-adventure sequel to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, it has standard ruins exploration and bowplay but this time set in Siberia
    • Erica

      • Bonus for the 10th anniversary of PS Plus
      • 2019
      • Live-action interactive adventure thriller with multiple endings that feels Heavy Rain-esque, putting you in the role of Erica, a brave young lady who is plagued with nightmares of her father’s murder and has to unearth the truth behind the tragedy
  • Epic Games

    • Hue

      • 2016
      • Puzzle platformer where you explore a grey land while searching for your missing mother, and along the way you uncover coloured pieces that reveal new puzzles. The more colours you find, the more complex the puzzles become

Co-Founder of Cards Against Humanity Max Temkin has stepped down following accusations of racist and sexist office culture (courtesy of Polygon)

  • For anyone unaware, it’s like a lewd version of Apples to Apples with references to politics, pop culture, sex, and so on
  • It started as a DIY print your own game distributed for free, but after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign it became the focus of a multi-million dollar game company
  • In the past few weeks multiple former employees have shared stories of racist and sexist behaviours that largely affected Black employees, as well as some accusations of sexual assault by Temkin
  • Many people reporting these behaviours remained anonymous due to fear of retaliation, and that seems to have been well founded after several employees described being fired for confusing or unexpected reasons after raising concerns about discrimination at work
  • Cards Against Humanity’s official response is that “some of these accounts are true, others are not, and a few we are continuing to investigate”
  • It seems almost inevitable that a company trading on humour powered by shock and racial stereotypes, like all the variations on “A big, black dick” that exist in the game, would have some problems, but though they’ve tried to increase sensitivity and remove some cards deemed offensive, there are still many packs being sold today that include cards that marginalize vulnerable groups of people
  • There have also been stories shared from the writer’s room about how the head writers like Temkin would push for the inclusion of cards like “Saying the N-word”, despite the protests of the one Black employee on the team
  • A spokesperson pointed Polygon to 14 cards, out of the hundreds available for the game, that “reflect Black culture, history, and perspectives”. In a follow-up they clarified that the game has “well over 100” cards that do that, and the examples were merely a favourite sampling, but the gesture reeks of “I’m not racist, I have a Black friend”
  • Many former employees described their departure from the company as “escaping”, and since there was no real HR department to speak of they felt unheard and powerless even after leaving, for fear of lawsuits and reprisals. The Chief Operating Officer was the sole HR department, and was also in charge of finance, operations, and legal. His close working relationship with Temkin led to concerns about bringing issues forward.
  • Apparently Cards Against Humanity is hiring an independent third-party HR consultant to audit and improve its practices, but from the sounds of it a lot of damage has been done to a lot of lives
  • Former employees also spoke of Temkin yelling at employees, and said that people on staff often spoke on Slack about the most private places to cry after encounters with him, and that he exerted undue influence over not only people’s livelihood but also their personal lives- in one case, Temkin decided that an employee would have to stop seeing someone or they would get “kicked out”
  • And all of this from a company that has opposed Trump, donated money to charity, and given scholarships to women in STEM programs has left many with whiplash after experiencing what the company culture was like internally
  • As of June 9th Temkin has stepped down from the company and will have no staff interactions, and though he maintains 1/8th of the company’s shares he will not receive a salary.
  • With these reports becoming public and the employees gaining courage and support they’ve established the Cards Against Humanity Workers United union and begun to demand recognition from the company’s owners, looking to establish better collaboration and transparency between workers and management after the trust has been eroded so thoroughly already
  • In a statement provided to Polygon, the company’s leadership says that it intends to recognize the union, and that if the majority of their employees want a union they’re all for it

Reddit has officially, finally, banned the “The_Donald” subreddit

  • The ban was part of the site’s overhaul of its hate speech policies, and will affect the more than 790,000 users that used it to post memes, videos, and messages supportive of Trump
  • This came down because of the group’s consistent breaking of its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech
  • Reddit’s chief executive, Steve Huffman said “Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people. ‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that”
  • At the same time, Twitch temporarily banned Trump from the service for hateful conduct, for things like video of his kickoff rally where he claimed that Mexico was sending rapists to the US
    • Twitch has apparently begun issuing permanent bans to other streamers because of hate speech, with long-time popular streamer Dr Disrespect receiving one without specific details on why
    • It sounds like Twitch is taking moderation a lot more seriously, and not just allowing racist or hateful language just because it’s newsworthy due to its source
  • In the words of the Daring Fireball, “It’s a race to get out of Dodge as the whole world gets its footing back on the rightful notion that bigotry is shameful and must be shunned.”

Warning to all pirates running macOS, there’s a new ransomware making the rounds

  • The new EvilQuest ransomware variant is being spread through pirated Mac apps, according to Malwarebytes, and was initially found in a download for Little Snitch found on a Russion forum
  • The infected installation does install Little Snitch, a tool for monitoring network traffic on your computer, but also moves and installs files throughout your system to encrypt both system and personal files on your computer before prompting for a $50USD ransom
    • The malware apparently doesn’t work very well though, as the ransom instructions are often not displayed properly and you don’t actually get your files back if you pay it
  • Malwarebytes says their software can remove the infection, but any encrypted files will need to be restored from backups

Clone High is coming back!?!

  • For the multitude that missed it the first time around, it was an animated series about the teenage clones of historical figures going to high school together, that worked as an out-loud parody of teen soaps like Dawson’s Creek with things like every episode opening with “Tonight, on a very special episode of Clone High…”
  • It was cancelled after one season due in part to its depiction of the clone of Mahatma Ghandi and controversy outside of North America. Even the DVD release never made it outside of Canada
  • Well apparently Clone High’s creators went on to make a few films like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, and Spider-Verse
  • So it seems like now that they’ve got some pull after a few hits, they’re bringing the show into the era of Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and 13 Reasons Why, so maybe we’ll finally get some closure to the first season’s cliffhanger two decades later. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with this

Tidbits

  • Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has officially apologized for the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issue, saying “Regarding the Joy-Con, we apologize for any trouble caused to our customers. We are continuing to aim to improve our products, but as the Joy-Con is the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the United States and this is still a pending issue, we would like to refrain from responding about any specific actions.”
    • Nintendo began offering free repairs for controllers afflicted with drift shortly after the lawsuit was filed, but with its built-in controllers the Switch Lite was also added to the class action suit a week after its September launch
  • Microsoft has updated their enforcement guidlelines for Forza Motorsport, banning players using the custom design feature to put confederate flags or swastikas on their cars
    • Some have raised issues with this, complaining that iconic cars like the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee had nothing to do with race and featured a large depiction of the flag on its back, but just because an unproblematic show used the flag doesn’t mean it’s not a problematic symbol itself
    • Even the General Lee car itself, owned by pro golfer Bubba Watson, had its flags removed in 2015
  • According to rumours, Apple may be removing the charger and EarPods from new iPhone boxes, leaving just the phone and a USB cord
    • The switch would allow them to reduce packaging and waste, and for many long-time iPhone users it wouldn’t be a large issue, but it seems like the option should still be there to make sure you have everything you need if you’re buying for the first time
    • One idea I’ve seem on reddit is to either have two different versions, which could get confusing, or include a coupon for the value of the charger inside the box. Then you can get one for free or use the savings on another Apple device, though it’s still an additional step
  • Now through July 10th Apple is giving you an extra 10% bonus when adding funds to your AppleID
    • On your phone you can go to Settings, tap on your name, iTunes & App Store, tap on your AppleID, View AppleID, then tap Add Funds to Apple ID
  • After taking fire for reading iPhone clipboards every time users type a single character into the app, TikTok has promised to release an update to stop reading that information from devices
    • iOS 14 beta shows a notification each time an app reads your clipboard and so this was really highlighted in TikTok, but it’s also behaviour being seen in other apps like AccuWeather, Overstock, AliExpress, Call of Duty Mobile, Patreon, and Google News
    • TikTok claims it’s part of an anti-spam feature and they don’t actually read what you may have copied from another app, but there’s no way to verify that. With it being a Chinese company whose algorithm is a complete black box, you can assume that they’ve stored copies of whatever you had on your clipboard while using the app
  • Microsoft is officially shutting down their physical stores worldwide, except for four specific locations in the US, England, and Australia that will become “experience centers” that no longer sell products
    • The stores were originally inspired by Apple Stores both in concept and execution, but failed to really get a foothold in the market
    • verynicewebsite.net put it well – “I do enjoy their PR headline: “Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail.” The new approach: not doing retail.”

 

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Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Layers of Fear Masterpiece Edition

      • 2016
      • A psychological horror game where you control a disturbed painter trying to complete his magnum opus as he navigates through a victorian mansion, with disturbing secrets about the painter being discovered
    • Qube 2

      • 2018
      • Sequel to the original Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion, and a physics-based puzzle game, interacting with specific blocks in the world to solve puzzles and make it to the end of each level

Ajit Pai, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission and owner of one of the most punchable faces in the world, seems to be making a case for the very same net neutrality regulations that he himself repealed

  • In an attempt to preempt state laws on net neutrality, Pai stated that each state having their own regulations could discourage companies or entrepreneurs from dealing with multiple layers of permissions and regulations as opposed to a uniform, well-established set of consistent regulations
  • What he didn’t mention is that the US had a uniform, well-established set of regulations before he eliminated those rules from the Obama admin and deregulated the broadband industry
  • On the plus side the US Court of Appeals ruled that Pai and the FCC lost the power to stop state laws when they deregulated it in the first place
  • So at this point things are at a stalemate- Pai seems to want to give more power to his corporate overlords, but in doing so he gave the power to the individual states that are actually interested in keeping the internet an open, neutral resource

Gamers excited for Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service launch this November 19th might be left out in the cold, even if they’ve pre-ordered

  • Initially Google said that the only way to play on day one would be to shell out $130 USD for a Founder’s Edition console, and while that’s kind of true it turns out that isn’t the whole story
  • Now that it’s sold out they’re now selling a new Premiere Edition, and it looks like neither package now guarantees the ability to play first thing on release day
  • Google now says that Founder’s Editions will only start arriving on the 19th, so if you were one of the first to pre-order yours may arrive but otherwise they’re all shipping first come, first served
    • Both the Founder’s and Premiere Editions are officially expected to be delivered within the first two weeks of launch, so unless you were quick on the draw it might be a lot closer to the end of the month before you’re up and running

The new Google Pixel 4 phone is taking heat this week for their facial authentication system unlocking even if the user’s eyes are closed or pointed elsewhere

  • Early leaks showed a “require eyes to be open” setting for face unlock, similar to Apple’s “Attention Aware” feature, but the released version can be unlocked by anyone that can hold the phone up to your sleeping face
  • In a statement to the BBC, Google said it would “continue to improve Face Unlock over time”, though the fix could be months away

We finally have conclusive evidence that the new Dark Mode on iPhones with OLED displays saves a decent amount of battery life

  • Tests run by YouTube channel PhoneBuff, using robotic arms to interact with two iPhone XS Maxes, had the device using light mode dying when the dark mode iPhone had 30% battery still remaining
  • This only applies to OLED phones, meaning the X, XS, and 11 Pro phones, and can depend on your brightness settings, but it’s still a measurable benefit
    • OLED phones actually completely turn off any pixels that are showing solid black, while LCD displays are uniformly lit and still send power to every pixel regardless of what’s being shown
  • This also works as a proof-of-concept for saving battery on OLED Android phones, though that would need another batch of testing to confirm

HARP 3D printer is one step closer to getting the Replicator

  • Researchers at Northwestern University have overcome issues around overheating
    • They have developed HARP, a 3D printer claimed to produce an object the size of an adult human in two hours.
  • Northwestern’s Chad Mirkin, who led the product’s development saidA limitation of resin-based 3D printers is that they generate a lot of heat when running at fast speeds, leading to dangerously hot surface temperatures and potential cracks and deformations in printed parts.
    • 3D printing is conceptually powerful but has been limited practically
    • If we could print fast without limitations on materials and size, we could revolutionise manufacturing. HARP is poised to do that.”
  • Mirkin predicts HARP, will be available commercially in the next 18 months
  • How does it print this fast?
    • HARP prints vertically and uses projected ultraviolet light to cure the liquid resins into hardened plastic
    • This process can print pieces that are hard, elastic or ceramic
    • These continually printed parts are said to be mechanically robust and can be used in a wide range of products that include cars and aircraft.
  • This is similar to the Form Labs 3D printer I looked into when I thought I was going to buy a 3D printer
    • The benefit versus other types of printing
      • You can make translucent objects
      • And you can achieve higher detail
  • However, a limitation of resin-based 3D printers is that they generate a lot of heat when running at fast speeds
    • which leads to dangerously hot surface temperatures and potential cracks and deformations in printed parts
    • “When these printers run at high speeds, a great deal of heat is generated from the polymerisation of the resin,” Walker said in a statement. “They have no way to dissipate it.”
  • HARP bypasses this problem with a non-stick liquid that behaves like liquid Teflon
    • It projects light through a window to solidify resin on top of a vertically moving plate
    • The liquid Teflon flows over the window to remove heat and then circulates it through a cooling unit.
  • “The interface is also non-stick, which keeps the resin from adhering to the printer itself,” Hedrick added.
    • “This increases the printer’s speed by a hundredfold because the parts do not have to be repeatedly cleaved from the bottom of the print-vat.”
  • Although 3D printing is transitioning from prototyping to manufacturing,
    • Current 3D printers’ size and speed have limited them to small-batch production
    • HARP is claimed to be the first printer that can handle large batches and large parts in addition to small parts.
  • “When you can print fast and large, it can really change the way we think about manufacturing,” Mirkin said.
    • “With HARP, you can build anything you want without moulds and without a warehouse full of parts. You can print anything you can imagine on-demand.”
    • While other print technologies have slowed down or reduced their resolution in order to print large parts, HARP does not make such concessions.
  • “Obviously there are many types of 3D printers out there – you see printers making buildings, bridges and car bodies, and conversely you see printers that can make small parts at very high resolutions,” Walker said.
    • “We’re excited because this is the largest and highest throughput printer in its class.”
  • HARP uses high-resolution light-patterning to achieve ready-to-use parts without extensive post-processing
    • The result, the university claims, is a commercially viable route to the manufacturing of consumer goods.

Fallout 76 Subscription?

  • Fallout 1st is a $100-a-year subscription-based service
    • Gives its members access to several benefits not available to others
      • Play on a private world with only your friends
      • unlimited storage space in the Scrapbox
      • a Survival Tent for fast traveling
      • Monthly Atoms, an exclusive outfit
      • Extra icons and emotes
      • And special sales not available to other players will also appear periodically.
  • This gives players what they have been asking for
    • But at a cost $12.99 a month, its $3 more than XBox Game Pass
      • And Gamepass has Fallout New Vegas, which seems to be most fans favorite
      • And it has Outerwords, a new open world game with far more options than Fallout 76
    • This is a bad sign from Bethesda
      • It shows that they are hearing what players want
      • But are out of touch, or too greedy to implement them fairly

Tidbits

  • Good news for anyone jumping on the 5G bandwagon- Verizon has managed to deploy coverage to certain seating areas in three different NBA arenas!
    • The coverage is far from complete, and there’s no word on the speeds being offered, but if you’re one of the people that Verizon has convinced to pay extra money then you might potentially see a benefit in parts of those arenas
  • Facebook may be forced to pay up to $35B in a class action lawsuit for users in Illinois, arguing that Facebook’s collection of users’ faces for tagging purposes violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act
    • The law requires that businesses gather consent from state residents before their biometric data is collected or used, and involves fines up to $5,000 for each of the 7M violations
  • In some awkward timing with tensions between China and Hong Kong, and the HKMap.Live app mess, Tim Cook has been named chairman of a Chinese university’s school of economics and management
  • Lastly some good news for gamers- Activision and Infinity Ward have announced that there will be no loot box system in the upcoming Modern Warfare game, and all weapons and functional attachments will be unlocked strictly through gameplay
    • There will be a battle pass system for aesthetics, with both free and premium streams, but that will let players see the content they’re earning or buying beforehand

Alan recommends silicone stretch lids

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Movie – Artist tries his best against the wishes of his grandfather and clingy aunts (Kubo and the Two Strings)

This Week:

Thanks to reddit user – MissBarker93
Movie – Man Survives thanks to his own feces

 

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