PS2J 312 News – Domestic Spying Only

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • NeuroVoider

      • 2016
      • Twin-stick shooter RPG set in a futuristic world about brains shooting around evil robots with nuclear rocket launchers, where you can customize your brain with the smoking remains of your victims
    • Dead in Vinland

      • 2018
      • Survival management game mixed with RPG and adventure elements, about a viking family trying to survive after being exiled on a mysterious island
    • Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn

      • 2018
      • Fighting game featuring Shaquille O’Neal that has you fighting your way around the world, beating outlandish celebrity bosses, and listening to a new rap track from Shaq himself
    • WARSAW

      • 2019
      • Turn-based historical role playing game where you need to use everything at your disposal to help a team of accidental heroes survive on the streets of Warsaw in 1944
    • Treachery in Beatdown City

      • 2020
      • Retro-style beat ’em up with RPG tactics and wrestling mechanics that lets you build a custom character and go save the president
    • Blazing Chrome

      • 2019
      • Side-scrolling action run and gun that has you freeing human kind from a machine-ruled world with fast-paced single player or co-op gameplay
    • Chroma Squad

      • 2015
      • Turn based tactical RPG about five stunt actors who decide to quit their jobs and start their own Power Rangers inspired TV show, where you customize your studio, craft your giant cardboard mechas, and combine your heroes’ abilities with teamwork maneuvers
    • Baseball Stars 2

      • 1992
      • Two player sports arcade game for the Neo-Geo that also saw a home release on the NES, it was lauded as having unparalleled gameplay and “the best graphics, sound, and gameplay this side of ESPN”
    • Shock Troopers 2nd Squad

      • 1998
      • Top-down military themed action shooter arcade game on the Neo-Geo that actually has no connection to the first Shock Troopers game, you choose from four mercenaries with different abilities to take down a terrorist organization
    • Ironclad

      • 1996
      • Side-scrolling shoot ’em up that has you manoeuvring a warship and teaming up with the mighty Iron Clad in order to fight the Iron Mask Republic and save the Kingdom of Chop
    • King of the Monsters

      • 1990
      • Isometric fighting game that pits pits kaiju against eachother and humanity to discover who is the strongest Super Monster of all
    • Sengoku 3

      • 2001
      • Side-scrolling beat ’em up that has you adventuring around the world to destroy evil spirits awoken by the red moon, with armed and unarmed combos and massive Ninja Art attacks
    • Metal Slug 2

      • 1998
      • Iconic run and gun action shooting game where you fight your way through a hail of bullets to thwart General Morden’s evil ambitions and uncover the secret of his new coup
    • SNK 40th Anniversary Collection

      • Video game compilation consisting of 24 different arcade and console games published by SNK between 1979 and 1990, from Ozma Wars to Crystalis
  • Epic Games

    • Wilmot’s Warehouse

      • 2019
      • Top-down puzzle game about keeping a warehouse running in tip-top shape. You’ll need to flex your organizational muscles in arranging and grouping items so you can retrieve requests as quickly as possible
    • 3 out of 10, Ep 1: Welcome To Shovelworks

      • 2020
      • Billed as the world’s first playable sitcom, it’s a fully animated and voiced free episodic series based in the world’s worst game studio, with narratively driven mini games taking you behind the scenes in a satirical look at game development

Health Canada has released a national COVID-19 contact tracing app, and it actually uses the proper exposure notification API

  • COVID Alert is available on iOS and Android, and takes full advantage of the Apple/Google Exposure Notification API
    • One thing to note here is that because the API is only available in iOS 13, you’ll need an iPhone from the last five years or so (6s or newer)
    • That lets your phone silently record randomized identifiers for anyone that comes within range of you for 15 minutes or more
    • Then, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, they just have to enter a code given to them by health care workers and it will upload a list of everyone that was in range in the last 14 days
    • At set intervals your phone will check the uploaded lists and, if your identifier was included in one, let you know that you may have been exposed
    • No personal information is asked for or collected by the app- you’ll see a prompt asking to enable COVID-19 Exposure Logging and Notifications, and then another asking to enable notifications for the app. Other than that it just asks what province you live in
  • A lot of other apps, even some local ones like ABTraceTogether, have attempted something similar, but because they wanted to use their own systems they hit walls like your iPhone screen needing to be on and unlocked at all times
    • These apps are not only battery hogs, but also less secure as they could be accessing other identifying information while they run
  • There is a caveat here in that reporting is currently limited to a pilot program running in Ontario, but you can still download and run the app anywhere in Canada so that your contact tracing records are kept up to date. Then even on day one of reporting in your province you’ll be able to see if you came into contact with someone days or weeks ago
  • Estimates show that these apps become really effective after they reach 60% of an area’s population, and there’s literally no downside to running it, so I’d heartily recommend everyone take a moment and get that going on your smartphone

Xbox Game Streaming is going full Stadia on September 15th, but they might actually do it right

  • Based on Project xCloud, the new tech will allow Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to play more than 100 games from the cloud on their Android devices
  • You’ll be able to play things like Minecraft Dungeons, Destiny 2, Gears 5, and Yakuza Kiwami 2, and they’ve announced they’ll be providing day-one access to new titles from Xbox Game Studios
  • Mobile users will have full access to the console experience, including friends lists, achievements, and saved game progress
  • And one of the best parts is that this isn’t limited to the States- September 15th will see the launch across 22 countries across North America and Europe
  • Unfortunately this is Android exclusive- Microsoft was running tests with iOS devices, but Apple’s App Store policies smacked the whole idea down
    • An Apple spokesperson told Business Insider that streaming services like these can’t be on the App Store because the company can’t review every single game included in the apps
    • They say that because games are interactive, unlike movies and music, they must be reviewed before being allowed to reach iPhone and iPad users
    • I think if that’s their concern they should just put the highest age-rating on the app and let it loose. There are a lot of interactive things on iPhones, like web browsers, where it’s just not feasible to review every single interaction

Samsung introduced a bunch of new tech with their Unpacked digital event this week

  • They introduced a fancy new Galaxy Z Fold 2 with a faster processor and redesigned hinge
    • The gap between the screens has been shrunk and the device is thinner than the first Fold, but the hinge also boasts improved dust elimination. We’ll see more details on September 1st when preorders open
  • The Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are the next flagships of the Galaxy line with 5G support
    • They’ve improved the S Pen and, for the Ultra model, set up a 120Hz screen for less latency when gaming
    • They’ve also partnered with Microsoft for three free months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with Xbox Game Streaming, as well as a free controller to play with
  • New tablets are coming in the form of the Tab S7 and S7+, and are the first tablets that support 5G in the US (for what it’s worth)
    • Apparently they’ll have a lot of Microsoft integrations, including the ability to use it as a second screen with your Windows computer
  • Taking a note from Apple’s iPhone X, Samsung skipped right from the Galaxy Watch to the Galaxy Watch3, with a smaller, thinner, and lighter body that still houses a larger screen
    • The new model has a cool feature that can measure your blood oxygen levels, too, which is pretty handy when we have a lung-attacking pandemic on our hands
    • Recent rumours are saying that the next Apple watch will also include this feature
  • Galaxy Buds Live are Samsung’s latest wirefree earbuds, now with active noise cancelling
  • And they’ve announced the followup to their original folding smartphone, the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
    • This one goes back to the book-style body of the Fold, but now when it’s closed you get a full 6.2” screen instead of the giant bezels and 4.6” screen of the original
    • They’ve also switched the display from using plastic to “ultra thin glass”, to improve strength and scratch-resistance, and improved the hinge to be not only stronger but also offer more varied angles
      • It still has a slight gap in the hinge, but Samsung says they’ve added bristles to keep dirt out

It’s been a weird week when it comes to TikTok

  • With such a popular app being owned by a Chinese company, many are concerned about the data that so many are willingly uploading to the service (along with whatever it may be grabbing behind our backs) ending up in the hands of a foreign government
    • Some are also concerned about how it could pave the road for some low-grade propoganda, given how the way videos are promoted to users is a complete mystery
  • Last Friday Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he would be banning the Chinese social media service from the United states, though given his track record who knows what he actually meant
    • He said he’d be signing the document the next day, but whether that was supposed to be an executive order or something else it never materialized
  • Then two days later Microsoft confirmed its intent to acquire TikTok in the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealond, saying they got a window from the president to have a deal in place by September 15th but is still threatening a ban if they can’t hash it out
  • On the political side, China’s communist party tabloid Global Times called a forced sale the “hunting and looting” of TikTok, and with Trump saying the US Government should get a “substantial portion” of the sale for “making it possible for this deal to happen”, you can start to wonder if they may be on to something

This Week In Gaming History:

August 1 – 1991 – F-Zero – SNES

  • The series is known for its high-speed racing, characters and settings, difficult gameplay, and original music, as well as for pushing technological limits to be one of the fastest racing games.
  • The original title inspired the creation of games such as Daytona USA and the Wipeout series.
  • And selfishly, I love this game for putting Captain Falcon into Smash bros, so he could be cloned to be my main Ganondorf.

August 2 – 1992 – Mortal Kombat – Arcades

  • Mortal Kombat was considered as one of the greatest video games of all time by critics and audiences in 21st century and became a best-selling game and remains one of the most popular fighting games in the genre’s history, spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs over the following years and decades, beginning with Mortal Kombat II in 1993, and together with the first sequel was the subject of a successful film adaptation in 1995.
  • However, it also sparked much controversy for its depiction of extreme violence and gore using realistic digitized graphics, and, along with the home release of Night Trap, prompted the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a U.S. government-backed organization that set descriptor ratings for video games.

August 3 – 2008 – The Angry Video Game Nerd in Pixel Land Blast – PC

  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd in Pixel Land Blast, you play the Angry Video Game Nerd from the web video series.
    • You are flying along wielding your NES Zapper, shooting NES cartridges that have been features on the Angry Video Game Nerd videos.
    • Do not touch a cartridge or get hit with a shot as this drains your life meter. If your life meter drops to zero, you lose a life. Hitting a spiked wall instantly loses you a life.
    • If you see a couple bottles of Rolling Rock beer, these will restore some of your life meter.
    • A six-pack is an extra life.
    • You can press a second fire button to call forth Shit Pickle, who will clear all enemies from the screen.
    • After a couple of levels, your progress will be saved so you don’t need to restart from the beginning, if you don’t want to.

August 4 – 2013 – Pikmin 3 – WiiU

  • The game centers around controlling three new characters: Alph, Brittany, and Charlie. They travel to PNF-404 (the planet featured in the first two games) to save their home planet Koppai from famine by harvesting seeds from the planet’s fruit. Upon reaching the planet, they discover the Pikmin, a servile species that’s both plant and animal, which they use to collect the fruit and battle the planet’s many fierce creatures.
  • Pikmin are super cute, and I love Pikmin 2, but the loss of control in this was devastating to my enjoyment of the game.
    • You used to be able to control Pikmin with the right analog stick, but in this game it is a camera control, and the Pikmin mindlessly follow you to me devoured, stomped or somehow caught by anything that follows you.

August 5 – 2000 – Hot Chix ‘n’ Gear Stix – PC

  • Caught my eye with the ridiculous title
  • Behind the wheels of one of the 6 mid-70s American muscle cars your only aim is to show yourself as the hottest chix around in this arcade-style racing game.
  • Tried to get more info off the developers website, but their website looks like its no longer hosted

August 6 – 2001 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo – PS2

  • An action game based directly on the Mobile Suit Gundam films and series. The game begins at the start of the series and ends at the ending of the second film.
  • The game plays in an action game format with a standard third-person view. It features newly hand animated cutscenes that depict events from the original television series as well as a CGI opening depicting a space battle from the One Year War and then a scene of the Gundam destroying several Zaku IIs before being attacked by Char Aznable.
  • A sequel, Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space, was released in 2003.
    • Which has hard to learn controls that reflect space combat well.
  • The English dub of the video game features the voices of the actors who were cast for the Mobile Suit Gundam television series as with most games subsequent to the series’ dubbing, rather than the English cast of the films.

August 7 – 2018 – Dead Cells – XBox One/PS4

  • Dead Cells is a roguelike action platformer video game inspired by Metroidvania-style games
  • Absolutely love the art style, I have no idea how to play the game. And feel like I’m bad at it.

Tidbits

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons has officially sold more than double what New Leaf did, beating out Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros Ultimate to reach the number 2 spot for Switch game sales just under Mario Kart 8
  • Bethesda has announced that Doom Eternal and The Elder Scrolls Online will both be free on the PS5 or Xbox Series X for players that have them on PS4 or Xbone, respectively
  • A new brushing scam saw people in dozens of US states receive mystery seeds in the mail that they didn’t order
    • Governments are urging people not to plant them or throw them out, as they could introduce invasive species, but to contact your state plant regulatory official instead
    • Brushing scams, I learned this week, are a e-commerce trick where scammers will get ahold of people’s names and addresses and then send them some random, low-value item.
      • The idea is that once there’s a record of some kind of shipment, they can use that to legitimize fake positive product reviews that they attach your name to
  • Three teenagers were arrested this week for last month’s massive Twitter hack that had prominent users like Bill Gates and Elon Musk promoting a Bitcoin scam that earned over $100K
    • According to federal agents, they’d used their own driver’s licenses to open Bitcoin wallets that received some of the loot
    • The suspected leader is being charged with more than 30 felonies, including communications fraud and identity theft, but the hack could have been a lot worse if the goal had been to affect global policy rather than make a quick buck

 

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Thank you Renée, and check out her podcast that Josh works on, Ravage Love.

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Pathway

      • 2020
      • Isometric strategy adventure game set in the wilderness in the 1930’s that has you exploring the strange unknown. Unravel long-forgotten mysteries of the occult, raid ancient tombs and outwit your foes in turn-based squad combat
  • GOG

    • The Witcher 3, if you own it on a connected account like PS4, Xbox, Steam, etc

      • 2015
      • Action RPG that focuses on narrative and worldbuilding as you go through the land taking on quests and slaying monsters, all the while searching for your missing adoptive daughter before she’s caught by the Wild Hunt
      • The free edition will match what you own on the connected service, either base game or GOTY edition. Players that bought the DLC separately unfortunately don’t get any consideration

The Supreme Court of the US issued a historic decision on workplace protections, ruling 6-3 that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal under an existing Civil Rights era law

  • The existing law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, bars discrimination on the basis of sex. The justices has determined that it extends beyond just the gender you were assigned at birth to your orientation and identity as well
  • Before this, LGBTQ+ workers in more than half of the US had no legal protection against discrimination, and could be fired, demoted, or paid less because of who they are
  • Even multiple educators lauded as Teacher of the Year in different states were discriminated against, bullied, threatened, and fired because of their identity and what they do in their spare time, like counselling LGBTQ+ youth or other non-heteronormative community outreach
    • One was even placed on administrative leave for mentioning her same-gender fiance during a welcome-back presentation to returning students

A new company called OpenCore Computer, with no official affiliation with the OpenCore Bootloader, has launched a commercial Hackintosh computer that has Apple’s lawyers salivating

  • The OpenCore Bootloader is a piece of software developed by enthusiasts that, in theory, would allow you to run macOS on standard PC hardware
  • Apparently a group has taken advantage of that free software to create OpenCore Computer, who claims that they hope to make Mac Pro style workstations more accessible. And you can get a pretty solid system for a bit over $2G USD
  • The problem is that Apple’s licensing agreement, since macOS is completely free, is that it should only run on official Apple hardware. Building your own Hackintosh is a grey area at best, and doing it professionally is solidly illegal
  • They seem to know that their work is fishy right from the get-go too, with payments only accepted in Bitcoin to try and get around the licensing in regards to accepting payments, and using an escrow service so that they get your coins through a middle-man after shipping
  • At the end of the day, if you want a Hackintosh you’re probably better off going on Reddit and following a pre-existing guide. It’s not terribly hard, especially for a hobbyist. And someone who needs the full performance of a Mac Pro would be better off either buying the real deal or switching to Windows, since I doubt the after-market support is up to snuff

EA revealed the upcoming Star Wars: Squadrons, and the details they’ve let loose so far are a radical departure for the company

  • There’s not a lot about gameplay yet, but the trailer looks really cool
  • The biggest shocks are that it’s cross-platform, has a single-player campaign, supports VR, will sell for $40 USD with no microtransactions, and is releasing on Steam rather than Origin
    • If they throw in stick and throttle support this could be a legitimate competitor with the likes of Elite: Dangerous
  • The news, unfortunately, has left many people that were still hoping for a Titanfall 3 disappointed that the “Where Pilots come to play” promo material was completely unrelated

Reddit user RobertAPetersen has set up a really slick shortcut for iOS for if you get stopped by the police

  • Triggered by telling Siri “I’m being pulled over”, it pauses your music, turns down screen brightness, turns on Do Not Disturb, sends a text to the contacts of your choosing with your location letting them know you’re being pulled over, then starts recording video with the front-facing camera
  • And after you’re done recording it will send the video to any contacts you specify and give you the option to upload it to the cloud
  • This is a really good idea even for just my low-level paranoia about police, and I’m white. For people of colour these kinds of tools are a godsend for accountability that clearly just isn’t there in law enforcement

8 years after its successful Kickstarter campaign and still with no release in sight, Star Citizen has now become the most expensive game in history

  • With them still pre-selling copies of the game and different in-game rewards like ships and skins, they’ve managed to surpass the development costs of both GTA V and The Old Republic with a whopping $350M invested to date
  • At this point with all that money and still just sitting at Alpha 3.9 they really have no incentive to ever release, and I’m beginning to think that my $30 pledge for a ship and lifetime insurance might just amount to the JPEGS they already emailed me
    • On the plus side, since I backed it so early they gave me a bunch of extra stuff like a BB-12 Manned Maneuvering Unit and a Preacher Armament Inquisition XXII Gatling. So that’s something, whatever those are
  • In the time since Star Citizen was first funded, Elite Dangerous was Kickstarted, developed, released, given DLC, and is now considered to be an older game

Mei added to Heroes of the Storm

  • The louder people in the Heroes of the Storm fan-base cries out
    • Very similar to the complaining of Fire Emblem characters being added to Smashm
    • I am happy for any character added to either game, more the merrier
  • She is a Tank character, which is different from her Overwatch role of DPS
    • Strong with Crowd Control, Mobility and Survivability
    • Weak against Siege and Burst Damage
  • Her active trait is Cryo-Freeze
    • Mei encases herself in ice gaining a temporary decaying shield and heals up to 35% max health
  • Q is Snow Blind
    • Throws a snowball that hits enemies in an area
    • Deals damage, slows by 35% and Blinds for 1.5 seconds
  • W is Blizzard
    • Snowball creates a blizzard at target location for 2 seconds
    • Enemies take damage every .25 seconds, are slowed by 7% and stacks up to 35%
    • When the Blizzard ends, enemies take extra damage and  and are stunned for 1.25 seconds
  • E is Icing
    • Mei slides quickly in the targeted direction
    • When the effect ends enemies at Mei’s location are knocked back
    • They also take damage and are slowed by 80%, decaying over 1.5 seconds
  • Mei’s first Ultimate is Avalanche
    • After a .5 seconds, a massive snowball rolls forward and consumes enemy heroes in its path
    • At the end of its path it deals huge damage to enemies and stuns them for .5 seconds per hero
  • Mei’s second Ultimate is Ice Wall
    • After a .75 delay an impassible wall emerges and traps enemy heroes in it
    • After 2.5 seconds, the wall crumbles and trapped heroes are freed and slowed by 75% decaying over 3 seconds

Pokemon Snap 2

  • From the Pokemon Twitter
    • We got a minute teaser
  • Shows it will be similar to the original
      • Taking pictures from a safe capsule on a track
        • The one in the trailer uses a invisible tack seen through augmented reality for the character inside
      • Apples are going to be used as bait again
      • Digital camera upgrade
        • Tracks subjects like newer smartphones can
  • New Pokemon featured
    • Seems like an Alola area with all kinds of pokemon
    • The first game did not feature all original 151
      • It will be interesting to see all that are actively in the game
        • And those referenced, like Mewtwo was a constellation
      • Also a pidgeotto swoop on a magikarp

Tidbits

  • Google has committed $175M toward supporting black businesses, and announced plans to increase underrepresented people in its leadership by 30% by 2025
    • It’s a start, but with black employees accounting for less than 4% of their workforce Google still has some work to do with diversity
  • The European Union has opened anti-trust investigations against Apple this week, following complaints by Spotify and Rakuten over Apple’s 30% cut on subscriptions and ebook sales through apps on its platform
  • Slay the Spire has released on iOS, and it’s a ton of fun with a bunch of asterisks
    • It’s a roguelike deckbuilding card game and not bad for $14 CAD, and I’ve been playing it a lot, but the mobile port is missing a lot of polish
    • It’s very faithful to the original, which is great in some ways for people who want a familiar experience but not so great in others- simple things like trying to read your cards is a bit of a mess, since they magnet directly under your fingertip, and on an iPhone without a home button if I’m trying to swipe the game close there’s a good change it will accidentally play a random card while I try
    • Also, it might work a bit better on an iPad but on my phone the text is pretty dang small. The resolution and controls seem pretty much unchanged from when I played it on PC, which is unfortunate because it’s a lot of fun
    • It initially launched at a full 5* rating, but while it’s maintained the top spot in card games on the app store it’s already slipped down to a 3.8 because of these issues

 

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And talk to us in the comments!

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!

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Free Games

  • Epic

    • Horace

      • 2019
      • 2D pixel platformer with a surprisingly long single player narrative that includes puzzles and minigames, touted as a contender for Indie Game of 2019

Things are continuing to heat up between the FBI and Apple over the latest iPhone unlock demands related to the Pensacola shooting have gained more publicity

  • Every time this hits the public eye government institutions and anti-encryption advocates use these examples as reasons for installing backdoors, while at the same time claiming that’s not the exact thing they’re asking for
    • They say they’re not trying to weaken encryption, and that they come up against this problem frequently, but there’s no magic way to let law enforcement in without allowing everyone else to use the same path. Daring Fireball put it really well: “Mathematics doesn’t discern between “good guys” and “bad guys””
    • We’ve even seen classic Trump rant-tweets on the subject, saying ‘they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements’, and the US Attorney General claims that Apple has provided no substantive assistance
    • This is even after they’ve successfully used devices like the GrayKey box we’ve talked about previously to access locked devices regardless of their passcodes, and the phones in question are even older, less-secure models (a 5 and a 7), so it really begs the question why are they so bound and determined to weaken encryption for everyone else
      • The iPhone 5 doesn’t even have the extra encryption hardware, called the Secure Enclave, of newer devices!
  • Law enforcement is even slowly shifting the language from “terrorism” to “pedophiles” in an attempt to work from the moral high-ground
    • It’s not that these aren’t serious crimes, but strong encryption is necessary for personal and national security.
    • Not only that, but law enforcement has other avenues for investigation than eavesdropping on communications and poring through stored devices. There’s a great example where people unravelled a dark-web site and arrested hundreds by analyzing Bitcoin transactions. Or another involving the arrests of members of a WhatsApp group.
      • But then we get people like New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance testifying before Congress with: “In fact, we were never able to view the contents of his phone because of this gift to sex traffickers that came, not from God, but from Apple. As a result, our investigation of sex trafficking was blocked by encryption.”
  • Apple’s stance remains clear- in a statement released this week they’ve said that they responded to each request from the FBI, often within hours, resulting in many gigabytes of information turned over. They’re giving everything they can
    • This hasn’t stopped people from demanding that Apple unlock the iPhone itself, but that just isn’t possible
      • It also doesn’t help that the FBI didn’t even request the device be unlocked until almost a month into the investigation, well after anything other than the full passcode could be used to unlock it
    • By design, if you use a passcode on your iPhone it should keep everything private from everyone. That’s the security and peace of mind that every single person should have.

Players Are Pushing Their Bodies to the Limit Speedrunning Nintendo’s Fitness Game

Article by Patrick Klepek, Published on VICE

  • On December 15, a player in Tokyo, Japan calling themselves Sakinyan turned on their Switch and started playing Ring Fit Adventure, Nintendo’s terrific exercise game hybrid from last year.
    • For most people, a session with Ring Fit Adventure lasts somewhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on when you collapse into a pool of sweat.
    • Sakinyan was not engaging in some light exercise, however, but attempting to pull off the first world record run for playing through all of Ring Fit Adventure’s surprisingly long story mode.
  • Ring Fit Adventure asks if you want to stop every few minutes. This staggering feat took Sakinyan a little over 18 hours, nearly a complete day of nonstop exercise.
    • At times, they took a moment to snack. Other times, they sipped water. There was even time for a bathroom break, though so far as I could tell while scrubbing through the speedrun, Sakinyan only headed to the bathroom once during the marathon.
    • And because Ring Fit Adventure can’t take a hint, they’re also forced to tell the game they don’t want to take a break over and over.
  • At 18 hours and 55 seconds, Sakinyan defeated the game’s final boss, walked over to their timer, and clicked stop.
    • After dabbing their face with no doubt a completely soaked t-shirt, they performed a few stretches as the game’s credits rolled. There was no big celebration, no fist pump.
    • Instead, Sakinyan sat on the ground and started scrolling through their phone.
  • Most of us play games in chunks at a time, a few hours at most.
    • Though the term “speedrun” suggests one is going fast, lots of games take a long time to speedrun, requiring dozens of hours of careful and deliberate play.
    • Speedrunning is a test of skill and endurance, and while tapping buttons and analog sticks is physically draining in its own right, it’s hardly on the same level as, say, having to perform a plank over and over again.
  • It’s what makes the slowly growing world of Ring Fit Adventure speedrunning so fascinating. In its early days, it’s not one defined by glitching through in the world in weird ways because no one’s discovered anything like that yet.
    • The only “shortcuts” are to scroll the menus faster—a staple of speedrunning JRPGs—and to manage your stamina.
    • A workout that might be more effective at taking out a group of enemies might be more personally draining, forcing you to take a costly break while your energy returns. It’s a very different way to play.

Indie game dev sees big boost in sales after he uploads it to The Pirate Bay

Article By Andy Chalk, Published on PC Gamer

  • My default position on piracy is that it’s bad and you shouldn’t do it.
    • Entertainment has value, and if you are entertained then you should be willing to pay for it.
    • That said, I also acknowledge that it’s not always a simple, black-and-white situation.
    • Which brings us to the story of Danger Gazers, “a post-apocalyptic roguelite top-down shooter” released earlier this month that saw a big boost in sales after its developer uploaded it to The Pirate Bay.
  • Danger Gazers is $10 on Steam, but if you don’t feel like dropping a tenner, that’s okay too. “This torrent was officially brought to you by ShotX.
    • This is the latest DRM-free version of Danger Gazers (1.1.0), there’s no catch here, no Steam only features, just the fully functional game,” the torrent description says.
    • “As a developer, my only request would be to consider supporting and buying in case you like Danger Gazers and want more indie games in the future.”
  • The developer, Shota Bobokhidze, went deeper into his reasons for sharing the game on TPB last week on Reddit.
    • “There are people who can’t afford the game, some want to play the game before buying, some that never buy games. Just trying to help those people out and make the best of the situation,” he wrote.
    • “There are a lot of ways to show support if you want to without buying the game, such as spreading the word about DG, sharing the torrent, feedback, whatever it is you can come up with. And finally, I hope you have fun and enjoy the game!”
  • The TPB release wasn’t a “planned PR move,” Shota told TorrentFreak, and he didn’t promote it on social media or his studio website, as he wanted to reach out to the pirate community specifically.
    • Nonetheless, the response so far has been “amazing,” There’s also been “a noticeable boost in sales,” which he specified to Polygon as a 400 percent increase in sales over launch day.
    • “And it didn’t stop there, some kind individuals went out of their way to donate more than twice as much (as the $10 purchase price) and I received countless emails from all the people who showed their support,” he said. “I’m thankful that my message was clear and thankful for all the support.”
  • The Steam numbers are still dire: Steam Charts indicates that Danger Gazers’ all-time peak concurrent player count is 7, which isn’t great. But it’s also available (and currently on sale) on Itch.io, which is apparently where supporters ponied up extra cash. (Itch.io enables purchasers to pay more than the list price for games if they want to.)
  • Shota said in his Discord server that he’s also planning on setting up a Patreon so fans can support ShotX’s work more easily.

SpaceX is nearing the next milestone towards sending a human crew up to the International Space Station, by blowing up one of their rockets

  • As part of the safety requirements from NASA, they need run an in-flight abort test to prove that they’re prepared in the case of a rocket malfunction during launch
  • What will happen is partway through the test launch the crew module will fire a set of escape engines and separate from the booster, going off to land in the ocean
  • The Falcon 9 booster will fall back to Earth, being torn apart as it descends into the water
  • It should be a pretty interesting show for anyone watching at 8AM ET on January 18th

 

Overwatch Lunar New Year starts!

The Year of the Rat hits Overwatch from day of recording, January 16th, and goes all the way to February 5th.
The announcement was followed by a clip of the Sombra skin. It is called Face Changer Sombra. She has a headdress an the mask changes periodically. It is based on someone performing Bian Lian, which translated to ‘Face-Changing’, an ancient Chinese dramatic art that is part of the more general Chinese opera. Performers wear brightly colored costumes and move to quick, dramatic music. They also wear vividly colored masks, typically depicting well known characters from the opera, which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or wave of the hand.
Doomfist’s Epic skin is called Monk, and his Doom Fist is gold with purple highlights. It also has the chinese character, Jingang, which is a Buddhist monastery in Kangding, Sichuan, China. He has a shaved head, white eyes, and his clothes have the style of being held on with bindings.
Winston’s Epic skin is called Ancient Bronze. The metal looks like an old patinaed bronze with Jade decoration in it.
Hammond’s Epic skin is called paper cutting. It looks as if the red paint was cut away to reveal a white floral pattern. Paper-cutting is an old art form that has roots all over the world, but is popular decoration during Chinese New Year.
Brigitte has a Legendary skin called Opera. She appears to be dressed as if she were performing in a Chinese Opera. Her shield is very ornate, with a fine China like border, and a large flower in the center.
Lucio’s Legendary skin is called Samul Nori. Samul nori is a traditional Korean style of music. Samul means for objects, and nori is To Play. It involves performers playing music on: a kkwaenggwari which is small gong; a Jing which is a larger gong;  Janggu which is an hourglass-shaped drum; and a Buk, and a barrel drum similar to the bass drum. This music is commonly played for traditional festivals, which Lucio looks dressed for. And his gun, looks like a drum.
Moira has a Legendary Skin called Mask Dancer. It is in the same vein as Orisa’s skin last year, where they are both Mask Dancer performers. Her belt has a mask look at the buckle. And she wears a red mask that has a yellow fire effect coming from the eyes.
Other event unlocks:
  • Bastion Emote: Kite Flying
    • Bastion flies a rectangular Korean style kite, and it flies away on him
  • Hanzo Emote: Sky Lantern
    • Hanzo pulls out and lights a paper lantern that flies gently into the sky
  • Bastion Victory Pose: Hot Soup
  • Pharah Victory Pose: Lion Mask
  • Torbjorn Vistory Pose: Fire Work
  • And a Junkrat gets a new Highlight Intro: Feast
    • It is Junkrat, suffed full of dumplings, and is a mirror of Road Hog’s Highlight Intro where he eats all the steam buns.
  • And a handful of sprays and voice lines

Jeff Kaplan talked about Role Queue changes they have been testing

On the Overwatch Forums, Jeff dropped a huge comment about changes they have tested internally. These are his words.
  • In early December, we were brainstorming ways to shorten DPS queue times and the idea was proposed to try changing the role queue team composition to be 1 Tank, 3 Damage, and 2 Support.
    • Our matchmaking engineers did some modeling around queue times, expected behaviors etc. and all indications pointed to an overall positive improvement to all queue times under a scenario like that.
  • From a design perspective we were reluctant for a number of reasons. Before implementing 2/2/2 role queue, we had done experiments with the team compositions being 1 Tank, 1 Support and 4 damage.
    • The playtests under a 4-1-1 comp were terrible. The problem was the solo support.
    • As a solo support, you felt unable to keep the rest of the team alive.
    • Added to that, at all times, you had 5 very aggressive players prioritizing you as the target every time.
    • As soon as the support player on one side died, the entire team would fall like a house of cards.
  • So when the idea of trying 3-2-1 came up, we were hesitant because of our poor playtests with 4-1-1. But we did something interesting in December and I am really proud of the team for sticking with it.
  • Internally, for the past two months, we changed the game to be based on 3-2-1 composition.
    • When we queue for our playtests, we only get 1 Tank per team for each match. We decided to “live with it” for December and January because we felt like the easy and natural thing for us all to do, is just say, “hey this is different and here are all the problems with it” and dismiss the system.
    • But by forcing the team to try it out and live with it for so long, it’s challenged us to try to solve some of the problems that have surfaced.
  • And there are a number of challenges.
    • First, there is the issue of what players have come to call “off tanks”. The biggest issues center around D.Va, Zarya and Roadhog. The current playstyle of those tanks (if you’re adhering to various metas that have existed) is to pair them with other “main tanks”.
    • Roadhog is a great example.
      • Is the correct thing to do for Roadhog under that design to try to make him more “main tanky” or is the correct thing to do to simply move him to the Damage role and balance him as a damage character?
      • We’ve tried both in our months of testing.
      • If you were to come and play Roadhog today with us in our 3-2-1 experiment, he’s moved from the Tank to the Damage category, he only has 400 health, Take a Breather only heals and does not do damage reduction and there were a bunch of DPS changes to his scrap gun.
      • Now, don’t freak out. We’re not doing this for 2-2-2… I am only sharing the design experiment that’s going on here. Maybe a better direction for Roadhog under 3-2-1 is some sort of team damage reduction ability?
      • How do you take what is essentially an “off tank” and make him a “main tank”? That is what we would have to explore with any of these tank characters.
      • Since the Tank roster is already one of the more limited character selections, we’re obviously not crazy about removing choice from Tank players. And if our stated goal is to improve queue times, did going to 1 tank actually remove a bunch of otherwise tank players from the queue?
      • Or were some of these “tank” players actually damage players who wanted a faster queue time so they picked Roadhog? Obviously, complicated questions and it is even more complicated to be confident in an answer.
  • The other fear around a 3-2-1 comp is the importance it places on the Tank player.
    • In our playtesting, this has manifested itself in two notable ways.
      • 1) Some players feel a lot of pressure to choose the “correct” tank. If there is only one tank, the team has a very strong opinion about who that tank should be. Another fear around this issue is that metas will be even more limited as players tend to take the “path of least resistance” towards their hero choices. If Reinhardt is deemed meta, do we only see Rein from now on? Are we all mad at our tank player if they play the hamster?
      • 2) Some tank players felt a tremendous anxiety about their performance in the match. They felt like being the lone tank put a lot of pressure on them and if they died, it was a really big deal.
    • Some of our tank/support players who would occasionally play tank stopped playing tank during 3-2-1 and only gravitated toward support because they felt intimidated to be “the main tank” and have so much focus on their play. Conversely, there are a number of main tank players on the team who actually enjoy the added spotlight.
    • Traditionally in video games there are different personas that are attracted to roles in games: Tank, Support, Damage etc. We saw this in WoW and we see it in OW.
    • While these are stereotypes (and you have to be really careful assuming too much here), there are many Tank players who love being the “lone tank” and carrying the team to glory. Watching this play out in our weird, internal experiment has been fascinating.
  • Our support players have given mixed feedback on the experiment as well.
    • On the negative side, people feel bad when the lone tank dies.
    • On the positive side, many support mains have commented that they feel like they have more freedom to focus on other players and not just “try to keep the big bags of hitpoints alive all match”.
    • In general, these matches are more chaotic and (I’ll touch on this later) feel “more FPS-y”.
    • The result is good or bad, depending on the type of player you are. For some of our support players, this makes matches more exciting.
    • EVERYONE is taking a lot more damage under 3-2-1. for some support players, the chaos causes negative anxiety and they prefer just healing tanks.
  • Speaking of Teamplay, one of our testers who did not like the experiment made a comment that he felt like 3-2-1 detracted from teamplay too much.
    • I found this fascinating because in 2013/2014 every decision we made was to embrace/encourage/force teamplay at all costs. We put so much effort into putting the focus on team victory/defeat rather than individual performance.
    • But in 2020, I feel like the over-emphasis on teamplay (while great for hyper competitive players and situations such as OWL), causes a lot of psychological pressure for your average player just looking to blow off steam in a video game.
    • I guess what I am saying is, that in 2020, feeling like you can deviate from teamplay a little bit in OW and have some success feels like a good thing, not a bad thing to me. The other analogy I’ve used (and I know you all hate my sports analogies) is that OW – in it’s current evolved form – feels like a football game (American) to me where every match is 4th down on the goal line.
    • The amount of team synergy and execution required to pull off a victory is exciting… but also a little intense.
    • There is something nice about a more loose/skirmishy version of the game – but again, it’s all opinion and perspective. Not everyone on my team agrees with me and that’s a good thing.

 

Tidbits

  • It sounds like Apple’s latest AirPods Pro firmware has improved audio performance, but at the cost of noise cancelling quality
    • It’s so bad that Apple has since pulled the update, but many users likely already have it installed as the update is automatic with no way to opt out or even be notified
    • If you go to Settings > General > About > AirPods Pro, and see firmware 2C54, then you’re unfortunately already affected and there’s no way to roll back- you’re stuck until Apple releases a fixed version
  • Apple has launched a replacement program for their iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR Smart Battery Cases
    • Apparently cases manufactured between January and October 2019 are experiencing charging issues, including problems with the case itself charging or it not charging the iPhone properly, so if you’re seeing similar issues you should go to an Apple Store for a free replacement
  • Lawmakers in the EU are debating standardized portable device ports this week, after their relatively weak encouragement toward micro-USB back in 2014
    • This might even be a good time for it as well, with USB-C becoming the de-facto standard for a lot of phones, tablets, and even laptops already
  • Cyberpunk 2077, originally slated to be released on April 16th, has been pushed back to the 17th. Of September.
    • CD Projekt Red released a statement saying the game is playable but needs more testing and polish

Smash Bros Update

  • Smash director Masahiro Sakurai has announced that Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses will be the 5th DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros Ultimate!
  • Both male and female versions will be in the game. Byleth wields 4 weapons from the game including the Sword of the Creator.
  • Byleth comes with the Garreg Mach Monastery stage and several Fire Emblem: Three Houses tracks.

Who is Byleth?

  • Byleth is a playable character and the main protagonist in Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
  • As an Avatar, their name, gender, and birthday are customizable.
  • Byleth serves as a professor at Garreg Mach Monastery.
  • They possess the mysterious Crest of Flames and can wield the Sword of the Creator.

With Fighter Pack 2 on the horizon

Who would you love to see in Smash Ultimate?
Both realistically and fantasy?

 

 

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

A huge thanks to Dalton, for supporting us for so long. We really appreciate his support over the years.

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 275 News – Bushel of Apple

Security alert

  • Google’s October 2019 Android security fix is here for the majority of Android devices and has a fix for a major vulnerability present on a bunch of different phones
    • The bug allows a hacker to remotely root and take complete control of the device if an infected app has been installed or if a Chrome-based loophole is used
    • If you have an Android device you should go into your Settings app and search for System Update to download and install it as soon as possible

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Surviving Mars

      • 2018
      • City building simulation from the developers of the Tropico series modeled after real Martian data that has you building a colony on Mars by manufacturing resources and constructing buildings to ensure the survival of the colonists

Apple’s under fire this week for their wishy-washy capitulation to the Chinese government during the Hong Kong protests

  • Most of the controversy, involving Apple at least, revolves around an app called HKMap.Live that allows users to flag locations on a map. It’s being used to warn the public about things like concentrations of riot police, tear gas, and zones that are currently being locked down
    • According to people within Hong Kong, tear gas is routinely being deployed without warning in densely populated neighbourhoods just because the cops were being verbally taunted, and the police are firing bean bag rounds without warning at people that, for example, walk out of a subway station in a locked-down area
  • It originally hit headlines because Apple rejected the app, saying that it facilitates, enables, and encourages the evasion of law enforcement. Which is no more true that being able to flag speedtraps on Waze- it’s not like the app has GPS on every cop in the region
  • The app eventually did get approved and released, so people chalked it up to an overzealous App Store reviewer and left it at that
  • Then Apple came under fire in the Chinese state media, being accused of protecting “rioters” and enabling illegal behaviour
    • Interestingly enough, the same story made no mention of the fact that it’s also a web app and available on the Google Play store- it completely targeted Apple
  • In response to those stories, and presumably pressure from Chinese officials, Apple then removed the app from the App Store citing claims that it was used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and that criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.
    • They went on to say that the app violates Apple guidlines and local laws, but despite many inquiries neither Apple nor Chinese officials seem to be able to point those laws out
      • The Secretary for Transport and Housing laid the decision solely at Apple’s feet, saying to ask them for the reasons why
      • Tim Cook released a company-wide email talking about the situation, but still didn’t or couldn’t back up the claims that it was used to target individual officers for violence, or to victimize people or property where no police were present. And no one at any point has said what local laws in Hong Kong this app is violating.
  • At this point the app remains available Google Play and its webapp, and anyone that already installed it on their iDevices can still use it, but it’s not available for purchase or download any longer
  • For all Tim Cook’s talk of free speech and human rights, this really seems like a failure to stand up for what’s right. They’re just 100% buckling under the pressure of the Chinese government

In related news, Blizzard is in a similar situation but they’ve 100% embraced their Chinese overlords

  • After a professional Hearthstone player declared his support for the Hong Kong protest movement Blizzard handed him a one year suspension and rescinded his $10,000 tournament prize
  • This has even caught the attention of American senators, with Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden both calling Blizzard out for the censorship
  • This is a really bad look for a company with supposed values like “Think globally” and “Every voice matters”
  • Many are boycotting Blizzard games in protest, to the point where they have basically crashed the account deletion part of the Blizzard site
    • Early reports were suspicious of them trying to prevent a mass exodus by changing the requirements (ie needing photo ID to close the account, instead of the usual authenticator, sms, email, or secret question), but further testing has shown that they’ve either backpedaled on that strategy or, more likely, gotten a little-used part of their website some more resources
      • Interesting part there is that you don’t need to send in your id to make the account in the first place, so what exactly would they be verifying?

The latest iOS may be a bit of a mess, but it at least has a couple of new privacy features to go with it

  • If you’ve already updated you might have noticed a new security prompt when using some apps, asking if you want to allow them to use Bluetooth
  • It mentions that it’s used to connect to Bluetooth accessories, which makes sense, but also says apps can use it to know when you’re nearby
  • Apparently some retailers were using bluetooth beacons to track customers that had their app open, since they previously by default had the ability to see nearby Bluetooth devices without a prompt
  • They could also learn your location if you were near a public WiFi hotspot, but Apple now has things locked down so that’s no longer possible
  • The worst part about that tracking was that it wasn’t limited to apps you might expect like Best Buy, but also things like games, flashlights, or other one-off apps from sketchy developers
  • So now with the additional prompts users can basically deny everything that doesn’t make sense, and then if they notice that actual functions within the app are affected they can look at allowing the needed access
  • The next challenge will be apps from companies like X-Mode, which get permission to collect location data by plugging in to apps that actually do need your location
    • For instance they have an earthquake alert app, which would make sense to let track your location, but buried in the ToS is language that says they can use that location data for other means
  • End of the day it looks like we still need to be conscious of what apps we’re installing, but at least now iOS lets us know if that wallpaper app you downloaded is secretly trying to get your location data

macOS Catalina is here, and because I haven’t learned my lesson from installing iOS 13 on day 1 yet we’ve got the full scoop

  • One thing to note is that they’ve drawn a line in the sand and you can no longer run 32 bit apps. That should be limited to older software, but even some newer 64 bit apps may rely on 32 bit plugins
    • There’s a free download available called Go64 that will flag the applications on your system that won’t work after the update, as well as let you know when they were last used, and it was a handy way to make sure I was ready
      • I actually found you need to delete/reinstall Steam to get the new 64 bit version, even though the Blizzard launcher updated itself smoothly
  • iTunes has been split into three separate apps- Music, TV, and Podcasts. Gone are the days of a single bloated hub for all your media, but it’s shifted iPhone and iPad syncing to an unlikely new home- Finder
    • Once your device is plugged in you should see your phone near the bottom of the navigation bar on the left side of Finder. You can click on that to see the familiar sync and update options that used to live in iTunes
    • You’ll also see an option for “Show this device when on Wi-Fi”, which you’ll need to manually enable to get WiFi sync back the way it’s been for the last few years
    • Apple notes in their support documentation that things set to sync with the cloud, like Apple Music, may not be available through the new Finder sync, possibly in a move to push more people into the iCloud and away from local syncing and backups
    • Also, despite its name, TV is the new home for all the video content including movies
  • They’ve also released Mac Catalyst, allowing developers to port iPad apps directly to macOS with the addition of multiple windows, drag/drop, and keyboard shortcuts
  • Photos has been updated with more sorting/filtering options and some automatic curation similar to Facebook, highlighting important moments like birthdays and vacations
  • Notes and Reminders have also been updated with the new iOS 13 features and finally sync properly across all your updated devices! And there was much rejoicing
  • Apple Arcade is now up on Mac in addition to iOS and AppleTV, meaning you can really take your game subscription anywhere
    • I’ve been itching to give it all a try, so expect my impressions in the coming weeks
  • Sidecar is brand new in Catalina, letting you use your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac. You can even use your Apple Pencil to control things, giving you a solid tablet interface for your computer for things like Adobe Creative Cloud, Maya, ZBrush, and more
  • Screen Time has come to the Mac, giving you insight into how you’re spending your time and allowing you to monitor usage, schedule downtime, and set limits for apps and websites across all your devices for yourself or your family
    • You’ll even be able to set communication limits as of this spring, if you want to limit who your kids can contact at certain times of the day (or night) without blocking their ability to contact you if they need to
  • On top of all that we also got a bunch of new security features, like better encryption, activation lock for lost or stolen hardware so only you can erase and reactivate your Mac, better controls to prevent accidental overwrites of system files (I’m looking at you, Chrome update we discussed in 273), and permissions prompts before apps get access to your files, keyboard activity, or images of your screen.
    • They’ve also set up the new Find My app with a couple tweaks to help locate a missing Mac, even if it’s offline and sleeping, by sending out Bluetooth signals that can be detected by Apple devices in use nearby so they can then relay the location so you can find it. And it’s all encrypted end-to-end so not even Apple knows the identity of the reporting device or the location of your hardware
  • Plus some great new accessibility features that let users control their Mac, iPhone, or iPad entirely with their voice, and tools to let users with low vision adjust magnification or visiblity on the fly
  • All that is available now, free, for most Mac hardware from 2012 or later.

The internet has found a way to get official Google apps back on Huawei phones, and you definitely shouldn’t do it

  • Recently the Trump administration banned US companies from doing business with Huawei as part of the trade war between the US and China
  • This has made their latest phone, the Mate 30 Pro, the first to launch without Google apps even though it uses the Android operating system
    • So it can’t access apps like the Play Store, YouTube, Chrome, Google Assistant, and more
  • Generally this wouldn’t be a big deal- gray market distribution of Google apps is something the modding community has been doing for years, but the Mate 30 has locked down the loopholes that are normally used for devices like the Kindle Fire
  • Instead the new method is to install them through a website called Lzplay.net, which has been promoted by many major Android news sites and is very easily searchable
    • It’s easy to see why it’s so popular too- you just go to the website, install the app, hit ‘next’ a few times, and it installs a batch of Google system apps in the blink of an eye
  • Unfortunately the method it uses to do so is suspect at best and a security nightmare at worst
    • The website plugs in the Android’s Mobile Device Management framework, usually meant to give your IT department full control over a company-issued device. The goal there being that they have as much control remotely as you do physically- they can install/uninstall apps, change passwords, wipe lost or stolen devices, and all kinds of other things
    • These are permissions that should only ever be given to someone you 100% trust- I don’t even like giving that access to my employer, even though they pay my phone bill
  • The big problem here is that no one knows who or what owns Lzplay.net, so you’re essentially giving full ownership of your phone and its data to a random website registered somewhere in mainland China, which historically doesn’t sound like a great idea
  • On top of that, a lot of the write-ups and video guides out there really gloss over how it works and just how many permissions you’re granting. Almost none of them mention the fact that you’re left with this massive backdoor to your phone, and removing the app as your device administrator requires digging through a lot of settings
  • Lzplay might not do anything malicious today, but tomorrow it could fill your phone with bitcoin miners, install ransomware, or brick your phone
  • If you want more details on just how suspicious the site’s background is, like how it uses secret Huawei code and launched three days before the phone even came out, check out ArsTechnica’s article on the whole debacle

Watch out, there’s a new sneaky phone scam making the rounds that looks like one of the most credible phishing attempts out there at the moment

  • Twitter user Pieter Gunst reported that he got a call from someone claiming to be his bank, asking if he’d used his card in another city. When he said no, the caller apparently blocked the transaction and asked for his customer number to verify his identity (red flag number 1)
  • Not realizing things weren’t on the up and up quite yet Gunst gave it, and the person on the phone then said they were sending a verification PIN for him to read back (red flag number 2). He later realized the scammer was resetting his online banking password through the Forgotten Password link, and used that verification number to do so
  • The scammer then read off a few other charges to sound legitimate, now that they’d gotten access to his online statements, and after he’d confirmed he made them the scammer said they then wanted “to block the PIN on your account, so you get a fraud alert when it is used again.”, and asked for his current PIN (at this point dozens of red flags were raining from the heavens and luckily Gunst realized something was up)
  • He hung up on the scammer and called his bank’s actual fraud department, as well as his local police department to file a report on the number that called
  • Based on my experience, as well as common sense if you think about it, if the bank is calling you then they know who you are. When my card was compromised the fraud department called me, verified which charges were legit, and then cancelled/reissued my credit card without ever asking me for passwords, or my PIN
    • If you ever do get a call and they start asking weird questions or you’re at all worried about its legitimacy, let them know you want to call them back and then get the number either from the back of your card or your bank’s website (don’t use any phone numbers they give you). That way you can be sure who you’re talking to, even if you have to jump through a couple extra hoops to do so

The LEGO Group is putting old bricks to use

  • The LEGO Group announced the start of LEGO Replay.
    • This pilot program will accept old bricks, wash them and donate them to children’s non-profit charities
    • its a collaboration with Give Back Box, Teach for America, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston
  • They made it easy to donate as well
    • collect any bricks, sets, lego figures you’re not using in a cardboard box
    • Vist Lego.com/replay to get a free UPS shipping label
    • Ship it, Lego takes care of the rest!
  • Your package is sent to the Give Back Box facility
    • They will sort the Lego
    • Inspect for damage
    • And clean it thouroughly
  • Tim Brooks, Vice President of Environmental Responsibility at the Lego Group had this to say:
    • We know people don’t throw away their LEGO bricks
    • The vast majority hand them down to their children or grandchildren.
    • But others have asked us for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks
    • With replay, they have an easy option that’s both sustainable and socially impactful
  • The founder of Give Back Box, Monika Wiela, also said:
    • I am excited to join the LEGO group in this pilot program
    • Growing up in Poland, I didn’t have many toys as a child, so this collaboration is rather personal for me
    • What’s better than giving a child the gift of play?
    • For us, the number of donations we receive is critical to a successful campaign, so we’ve made it as easy as possible for folks at home to send in their idle bricks
  • Among the bricks sent out
    • There is a portion going to Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston for thier after-school programs
    • First shipments in November 2019.
    • Once the pilot is complete in Spring 2020, the LEGO group will evaluate a possible expansion of the program
  • LEGO replay is one of the many sustainable and philanthropic efforts the LEGO group has announced in the past year
    • Recent efforts include bricks made from plants, braille bricks and audio & braille instructions.

Josh wants to get into Streaming

Trying XSplit Gamecaster
They have a camera app that can capture just you with, I dunno, machine learning?
I want to stream Overwatch, HotS, and whatever I play. Like Sims 4, Rollercoaster Tycoon, any whatever free game I get from Alan’s free games list.

Tidbits

  • Bose has discontinued their noise-masking Sleepbuds earbuds due to battery and charging issues, and are offering full refunds as long as you put in your request by the end of the year
    • They also note that if you want to keep using them their newer Sleepbuds are less likely to see problems, and they’ll continue replacing them while supplies last
  • PS4 remote play has gotten amped up on iOS with the ability to connect your Dualshock 4 controller to iPhones and iPads
    • Previously we were stuck with on-screen controls, which aren’t great for the sheer number of buttons involved, but with an actual controller it makes remote place a lot more useful
  • Spotify has been updated on iPhone to include Siri support, and it works almost exactly how I’d hoped- you just ask it to play a song, artist, or playlist followed by “with Spotify” or “on Spotify” and it picks up the command easily
    • One annoying nitpick though, it doesn’t play nice with Siri on my watch so changing music while driving continues to be slightly more awkward than it needs to be
  • Steam has announced their Remote Play Together feature coming near the end of this month, giving a couch-coop experience online
    • The idea is that the host computer runs as if it was a local multiplayer session, split screen and all, then streams the video to your remote friends while they stream their controller inputs back

Recommend The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad from 1949

  • Especially the second half, where it does a full Disney take on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow narrated and voiced by Bing Crosby
  • It’s charming and just a real treat in the fall season to hear more of Bing not limited to Christmas carols, and it’s a solid delivery of the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman
  • Plus as a bonus you also get The Wind in the Willows, narrated by Basil Rathbone, which is another excellent example of Disney animation at its finest
  • Each segment is about half an hour, which leaves neither of them feeling padded or cut short. Just the right amount of two great Disney films

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Movie – A typical cowboy saves the princess tale.  (Shanghai Noon, Movie)

This Week:

Game – Sadistic architect values efficiency over safety.

 

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A huge thanks to Dalton, for supporting us for so long.

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
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A Facebook Page exists as well.

The Supers: 3rd Best Super-team in the World
http://thesuperscomicbook.com

The Supers #1 Credits:
The Supers Main Story/Character Designs
Propaganda
Fridging
Coming Soon
Art by Ricky Gunawan
Written by Chris Morris

The Incident
Written by Chris Morris & Chelsea Crutchley
Drawn by Chelsea Crutchley

Side Projects
Anti-Bullying PSA
Fun with Magnets
Written by Chris Morris
Art by Jeff Martin

Ailing’s Problem
Written by Chris Morris
Art by Elaine Will

The Eagle’s Whom’s Who
Written by Chris Morris
Art by Ricky Gunawan
Graphic Design by Ivan Sampson

Starka Pinup by Sabrina O’Donnell
Outback Pinup by Elaine Will
Celsius Pinup by Jeff Martin
Inferno Pinup by Christopher Eric Petersen
Wisp Pinup by Daniel Schneider
The Eagle pinup by Kyle Charles

Wisp’s Coming Out Party
Written by Chris Morris
Art by Catherine Dubois

The Adoption
Written by Chris Morris
Art by Steven Charles Rosia

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-supers-3rd-best-super-team-in-the-world-2#/

Free Games

  • Twitch
    • Final Fantasy XIV (base game + 30 days playtime)
      • Initially released in 2010, it was later completely revamped and rebranded as A Realm Reborn in 2013
      • It’s a lot of fun, and you might recall I got pretty into it about a year and a half ago
      • If you’re a Final Fantasy fan and looking to get into an MMO, it’ll 100% scratch that itch
  • Epic Games
    • Axiom Verge
      • 2015
      • Side-scrolling metroidvania game with great reviews where you play a scientist that, after suffering a crippling injury, wakes up in an ancient and high-tech world

News

Xbox Live will soon be spreading its wings and getting on iOS, Android, and Switch

  • A session description from the 2019 Game Developers Conference seems to have blown a big reveal- that Microsoft is releasing a new cross-platform developer kit for mobile gaming
  • There’s no mention of a launch window, but it appears to be a first-look at connecting players between iOS, Android, Switch, XBox, and Windows
  • This is really cool news, and perhaps not a huge surprise after their cross-platform Minecraft ads with Nintendo
  • When asked for comment a Microsoft spokesperson told Polygon the company has “nothing additional to share at this time”

Biohackers, which is now added to Teledildonics on my list of favourite words, have encoded malware into a strand of DNA

  • It was just a proof of concept, but they’ve shown it’s possible to encode software into physical strands of DNA so that when a sequencer analyzes it the resulting data becomes a program that takes control of the underlying computer
  • In this case they managed to write code into physical DNA that, when compressed with industry-standard software, hacks that software and breaks out into the memory of the computer to run its own arbitrary commands
  • It seems pretty far out, but a lot of these programs weren’t written with security in mind. No one was expecting they’d need an anti-virus on a gene sequencer
  • As sequencing becomes more commonplace it may eventually become a real vector for attacks
  • Companies could even put malicious code in the DNA of genetically modified products to protect trade secrets
  • It’s something that we won’t need to work with for quite some time, but when it does arrive we’ll be glad we started thinking about it now

We’ve reached peak crypto-currency

Canadian exchange QuadrigaCX can’t repay $190M to clients after its founder, the only person who knew the passwords to its cold storage, unexpectedly died overseas.

  • Crypto currency exchanges are uniquely vulnerable to this kind of thing since they actually store the cryptocurrencies for their customers, but the threats are usually hackers and malware rather than lost passwords

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

A huge thanks to Dalton, our favourite fan. And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!

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Alan has highlights from E3 2018, and Josh has his soft to talk about Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Then Josh recommends an older game and Alan has a less guilty, guilty pleasure to share.

For more info, Patreon supports get access to our show notes!

A huge thanks to Dalton, our favourite fan. And thanks to all our Official Fans that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!

Also, make sure to check out RIPT Apparel for sweet 24 tee shirt designs. And don’t forget to use the coupon code PS2JSHOW for 10% off!

We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB

And talk to us in the comments!
Or…

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Nintendo has redefined what a game console is. Street Fighter gets a full game. Josh wants you to check out something that Alans recommendation warns you about.

For more info, Patreon supports get access to our show notes!

A huge thanks to Dalton, our favourite fan. And thanks to all our Official Fans that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!

Also, make sure to check out RIPT Apparel for sweet 24 tee shirt designs. And don’t forget to use the coupon code PS2JSHOW for 10% off!

We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB

And talk to us in the comments!
Or…

Discord Server
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
Facebook