Free games

  • Twitch

    • Tempest

      • 2016
      • Pirate-themed open world action RPG with hundreds of quests and countless ships to plunder. Customize your ship, trade, challenge fellow pirates and face terrible mythical monsters such as Kraken and Leviathan.
  • Epic Games

    • Hitman

      • 2016
      • Third person stealth assassination game in episodic form, taking Agent 47 all around the world to prove he is the ultimate silent assassin
    • Shadowrun Collection

      • Shadowrun Returns

        • 2013
        • Science fantasy cyberpunk turn based tactical RPG based on the tabletop RPG of the same name, with extra custom campaigns available from Steam or third-party websites
      • Shadowrun Dragonfall

        • Originally an expansion pack for Shadowrun Returns, it was released as its own game in 2015 with new missions and other content improvements
      • Shadowrun Hong Kong

        • Another expansion pack for Shadowrun, built on an improved engine and released for free for everyone that owned the original

Updates

  • In new court documents shown in the case between Epic Games and Apple, it looks like Epic has been angling for a special deal with Apple for months now
    • Emails from CEO Tim Sweeney show him asking for special considerations when it comes to the App Store’s 30%, and even going so far as to ask for the ability to make their own app store for iPhones completely separate from Apple’s
    • Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers is so far upholding Apple’s right to remove Fortnite from the App Store, leading Epic to incite their players by announcing how they’ll be missing out on new updates and events because of Apple, even though this entire crisis is all because of Epic Games and could be fixed by them just removing the direct payment option they’re trying to use to get around Apple’s payment system
      • And they are really working to incite their players. Their FAQ about the topic is full of rhetoric like accusing Apple of forcing Epic to collude to maintain their monopoly (read: making them follow the terms of their contract) and saying Apple “intentionally sabotages consumer iOS devices” to prevent them from installing apps directly from developers. Which is not sabotage so much as it is how iOS has been designed.
    • Judge Rogers has said that Apple can’t take actions that would affect the Unreal Engine though, so at the moment Epic’s developer accounts are safe since that is somewhat separate from the Fortnite app
    • A full hearing is set for September 28th, and the lawsuit is expected to run for months if not years

An ad agency decided to bypass proper sponsorships and go straight to Twitch stream text-to-speech donations to talk about Burger King

  • The agency Ogilvy tweeted a video showing the results of their campaign that had them donating the price of various Burger King menu items, never more than $5, and using the text-to-speech donation message to talk about the products
    • The streamers’ faces were blurred, and presumably for legal reasons their gameplay footage was replaced by fake games
  • One streamer hit the nail on the head when pointing out a problem with that- they asked “listen, are you gonna sponsor me or not?”, to which Ogilvy replied in the video “We gave you $5!”
    • Considering the advertising budgets that can go in to even something as small and simple as this, that’s complete bull
  • The video wraps up with streamers thanking the Twitch user for their donation, but mainly just because they’re being polite even though their platform was just taken advantage of
  • As stated by RubberNinja, it should probably be investigated by the FTC, because this was a blatant misuse of the stream footage and trying to sneak brand deals in for a pittance is just tacky and borderline illegal
    • Some of the streamers recognized themselves in the video, and have said that they were not approached for consent
    • And many have pointed out that not only does this seem to violate Twitch’s terms of service, it could also interfere with actual legitimate deals that streamers may have had with competing brands

DC and Warner Bros have announced a new Batman game coming in 2021, sans Batman

  • Gotham Knights will star Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, and Red Hood, all taking on the Court of Owls and stepping up to take care of Gotham with Batman out of the picture
  • The title will hit the PS4, PS5, PC, XBone, and Series X, and is being made by the team behind Arkham: Origins
  • Rocksteady, the developers that made the original Arkham titles, have apparently been working on a Suicide Squad adaptation

Bungie is making interesting choices with Destiny 2, vaulting content that people have paid for as part of the Beyond Light expansion

  • About two years worth of content, including campaigns, areas and story, totalling $95, will simply no longer exist
  • They will be offering new content, but to take away stuff that you’ve paid for and treat a video game like it’s Netflix is a disturbing precedent
    • When you’re playing an MMO you can expect some content will be event or season based, but in this case they’re taking away base Destiny 2 content, two DLC’s, three seasons of content, and two expansions. None of which was advertised as transient or limited-access
  • And on top of questions of ownership, it could also leave a pretty big gap for people looking for a narrative thread. It destroys any kind of cohesive experience in exchange for Fortnite-style seasons

Facebook is warning investors that Apple’s iOS 14 could shave more than half of its Audience Network revenue (and a chorus of angels sang out: “Good.”)

  • The Facebook Audience Network lets advertisers track mobile users with a unique device ID to target ads and measure their effectiveness, but where it’s currently a manual opt-out process if you wanted to keep a semblance of privacy, on iOS 14 users will now see a prompt when they first open an app that wants to track them
    • And of course if given a popup that says “Hey, can we sell your information for advertising?”, most people will click no. And that makes Mark Zuckerberg sad. And it makes me very happy.

This Week In Gaming History

August 22 – 1987 – The Legend Of Zelda – NES

  • The start of one of the most prolific adventure series
  • The game was the first to have an open world where the player had to explore the world and learn the best route to complete the game.
  • The theme, composed by Koji Kondo, is synonyms with adventure to gamers everywhere.

August 23 – 2011 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution – PS3, Xbox 360, Windows

  • Set in the year 2027, Human Revolution focuses on ex-SWAT officer Adam Jensen, who is employed as a security officer for Sarif Industries, a company on the leading edge of advanced and controversial artificial organs dubbed “augmentations”.
    • An attack on Sarif Industries that apparently kills researcher and Adam’s ex-girlfriend Megan Reed also leaves Adam critically injured. To save him, company CEO David Sarif subjects him to an extensive augmentation procedure: six months later, now recovered and possessing advanced augmentations, Adam sets out to pursue his attackers and the shadowy organization behind them.
    • The story explores themes of transhumanism, the growing power of megacorporations, and their impact on social class.
    • It also uses the series’ recurring cyberpunk setting and conspiracy theory motif.
  • Development of Human Revolution began in 2007 with a small team within the fledgling Eidos Montréal studio, after multiple aborted attempts to create a sequel at original developer Ion Storm following the 2003 release of Deus Ex: Invisible War.
    • The two key influences were the myth of Icarus, a thematic element carried over from Deus Ex; and the artwork and ideas of the Renaissance, which influenced the story, graphics, and music, while combining with the series’ typical cyberpunk elements.
    • The open-ended nature of the gameplay was tricky for the team to achieve; as a result, the boss battles were outsourced to another developer due to time constraints.
    • The music, composed by Michael McCann, focused on ambiance and three-layered compositions over character themes and overt melodies.

August 24 – 2020 – No Straight Roads – Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Windows

  • Start a rock band & end the EDM empire in NO STRAIGHT ROADS, a rockin’ action-adventure from the minds of Wan Hazmer (Final Fantasy XV) and Daim Dziauddin (Street Fighter V).
  • Explore Vinyl City & fight musical megastars on your journey to defeat oppressive EDM empire ‘NSR’, in an action-packed adventure that mashes together rhythm-infused third-person combat with a kick-ass soundtrack!
  • Key Features:
    • Discover the world of Vinyl City, meet larger-than-life characters and lead a musical revolution to end the EDM empire.
    • Rock out solo in an action-packed single-player campaign or band up with a friend in couch co-op.
    • Master rhythm-infused third-person combat as Mayday & Zuke, members of indie rock band Bunk Bed Junction, each with their own music-based weapons and attacks.
    • Defeat musical megastars from a range of genres, including a pop-tastic boy band, a globe-spinning DJ, a child prodigy pianist and more on your journey to bring back rock.
    • Fight for your right to rock! Learn awesome new moves, upgrade your abilities and use the power of music to transform props into weapons.
    • Experience an awesome dynamic soundtrack from a line-up of musical talent, including Falk Au Yeong, Andy Tunstall, Funk Fiction, James Landino, Masahiro “Godspeed” Aoki, Az Samad, Clyde Rabatel and the Video Game Orchestra.
    • Partner up with an additional local player to take control of the Elliegator, a secret alligator assistant who can help players in battle by picking up items, transforming props and calling in useful bonuses.
    • Assist Mode lets up to three local players experience No Straight Roads’ music-based action together, only on Nintendo Switch™.
    • Touchscreen Support – Use the Nintendo Switch™ system’s touch screen to transform props and pick up items.

August 25 – 1997 – GoldenEye 007 – N64

  • This game introduced the first person shooter genre to many people
  • It was thought that FPS would never work off of PC, and this was a huge step forward for console gaming.
  • I’ve seen the game many times, and never the movie.

August 26 – 1989 – Game & Watch Multi Screen: Zelda – Dedicated Handheld

  • Game & Watch Multi Screen: Zelda is the fifteenth and last game in the fourth (and biggest) series of Game & Watch games published by Nintendo, also known as the Multi Screen Series, consisting of 15 titles.
    • Unreleased in Japan.
  • The G&W Zelda game mixes the exploration part of the first Zelda game with the combat gameplay of Zelda II.
    • The goal of your quest is to save Princess Zelda by gathering pieces of the Triforce, each hidden in one of the eight dungeons of the Hyrule Kingdom.
    • Each dungeon is crowded with monsters and ghosts.
    • To go from one room to the next you’ll have to choose between two paths, but only after defeating an armed Goblin.
    • When defeated you’ll get an randomized item: the dungeon map, extra hearts, an axe or magic potions.
    • After defeating the dragon in the last room the piece of Triforce is awarded to Link.
  • The upper screen shows all the useful information: the items you own, the dungeon map, pieces of Triforce gathered and the boss location. The lower screen shows all the action that is happening.

August 27 – 2015 – Pixel Slime U – Wii U

  • PIXEL SLIME U is a unique auto-platformer that challenges you to get the LOWEST score possible.
  • Jump, twist, and glide your way through 40 challenging levels while trying to avoid death.
  • This game will keep you coming back while you compete with others on Miiverse™ to have the LOWEST score.m

August 28 – 2000 – Mario Tennis – N64

  • My favorite Mario sports spinoff
  • Choose your favourite Nintendo character and take to the world of tennis.
    • Game types include ring shot (where you must shoot the ball through golden hoops that are suspended above the play area, gaining bonus points as you play), bomb tennis (simply put Tennis with Bombs) and Piranha Challenge (much like the tennis machines which chuck balls at you, but in this case they are replaced with Piranha plants).
    • Of course, there is your normal tournament mode, with up to 4 players in on the action, and some crazy arenas, especially Bowser’s Castle, which is suspended above a lava pit!
  • I was hoping for something more like this game with Aces, but I was sorely disappointed with how Aces felt to me.

Tidbits

  • The debut trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has been blocked in China and subsequently edited everywhere else, because it used about a second’s worth of footage from the famous Tiananmen Square protest
    • But I’m sure this has nothing to do with Chinese company Tencent’s stake in Call of Duty owner Activision
  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is now officially the most downloaded PS Plus game of all time world-wide
    • The game is a fair bit of fun, too, taking the Takeshi’s Castle and Wipeout formulas and turning them into quick little 60 person battle-royales
  • TikTok parent company ByteDance is suing the US government over Trump’s executive order demanding the sale of TikTok to an American company under threat of being banned from the US
    • It seems kind of ironic that they’re suing a national government because of accusations of not being able to stand up to another national government, but it is what it is
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is apparently next-gen Prince of Persia-like stealth game coming in 2021
    • The game will feature a branching narrative, which could get interesting considering we all know how the story ends for Gollum, but it aims to expand on hints given by J.R.R. Tolkien about Sméagol to make a story that fits along with the books and works in aspects of his warring personalities

 

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PS2J 297 News – Soylent Strikes Back

Free Games

  • Epic

    • Just Cause 4

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

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

    • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Fantasy VII Remake mini-review

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

Soylent is back baby!

  • Soylent.ca is where to get it

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

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

 

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

Tidbits

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

 

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PS2J 293 News – Ctrl Alt Leak All Your Data

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • The Stanley Parable

      • Started life as a Half-Life 2 mod in 2011, it became a standalone game in 2013
      • You play as the titular Stanley, and going through an office building in first person perspective, with everything that happens being narrated by the lovely British voice actor Kevan Brighting. You end up finding a bunch of diverging pathways, with options to disobey the narrator, that all get incorporated into the story with many different endings.
    • Watch Dogs

      • 2014
      • Third-person action-adventure game that follows hacker Aiden Pearce’s search for revenge after the killing of his niece, set in an open-world version of Chicago that has you going through different puzzles to hack a ton of different technology. There are also RPG mechanics with a reputation system and skill trees for hacking, crafting, combat, and driving
  • App Store

    • Alto’s Adventure

      • Join Alto and his friends as they embark on an endless snowboarding odyssey. Journey across the beautiful alpine hills of their native wilderness, through neighbouring villages, ancient woodlands, and long-abandoned ruins.
    • Alto’s Odyssey

      • Join Alto and his friends and set off on an endless sandboarding journey to discover its secrets. Soar above windswept dunes, traverse thrilling canyons, and explore long-hidden temples in a fantastical place far from home.
    • Kingdom Rush

      • Original, Frontiers, and Origins
      • Highly rated tower defence games
      • Get ready for an epic journey to defend your kingdom against hordes of orcs, trolls, evil wizards and other nasty fiends using a vast arsenal of towers and spells at your command!

COVID-19

  • According to the CDC, water temperature doesn’t matter at all when washing your hands
    • Hot or cold, the important factors are to use soap for at least 20 seconds and to use clean, running water. Standing water in a basin could be contaminated
    • They also mention turning off the faucet after wetting your hands to save water while you soap up, saying there is little data to prove significant numbers of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet
    • And also remember that while hand sanitizer also does the job, you’ll want to use soap and water if there is any visible dirt or grime to clean off. The best approach is to use both tools frequently
  • In some solid marketing spin, Apple is kicking off WWDC 2020 in June with an all new online format
    • Though it’s clearly a cancellation of the in-person sessions due to COVID-19, the way they’ve phrased it, and indeed the way it will exist this year, is an online format equally accessible to all developers no matter their location
    • They gave brief mention to the “current health situation”, but never actually mentioned COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Many internet companies like TekSavvy and Shaw are making changes to remove data caps, offer flexible billing, and open up access points like Shaw Go WiFi to the general public
    • The FCC in the US is left scrambling to protect consumers though, after aggressively deregulating and removing their own power
      • They’ve convinced many ISP’s to waive late fees and not terminate services due to unpaid bill during this crisis, but glaringly omitted is any mention of removing data caps and overage fees
      • Ajit Pai arguing that ISP’s shouldn’t disconnect people in a time of emergency is making many wonder- isn’t this an admission that the internet is a utility, a basic service nowadays like power and water, and thus should be regulated as such?
  • The vast majority of business are either closing down completely or transitioning to online-only or limited delivery/takeout options to limit personal contact
    • Apple is even offering returns up to 14 days after they re-open their retail stores, as long as it’s not a phone bought on contract
    • Gamestop, though, has made the controversial decision to stay open in the US. They’re limiting the number of customers allowed in and cancelling midnight releases, but it’s still not a great situation
      • Many staff have reported on reddit that they haven’t even received disinfectant cleaners from corporate, instead being expected to provide their own and request reimbursement
      • Gamestop also still appears to be accepting trade-ins. Workers have apparently been told they can use gloves when accepting them, but they again have to buy their own
  • With movie theatres closing to keep up social distancing, Universal is releasing new movies as 48-hour rentals on the same day as their planned theatrical release. Current options include Trolls World Tour, The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma, which cost $20 to rent (about two movie tickets)
    • I can see a lot of other studios doing the same, if they haven’t already, to try and keep up their revenue on new releases
  • Conan O’Brien is taking an interesting route in sorting this out, allowing his crew to work from home while he shoots his show from his house on his iPhone
  • The WWE is still going strong, performing their hearts out to completely empty stadiums and arenas in some entertaining and somewhat surreal Twitter videos I’ve seen
  • The European Union is calling on Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services to temporarily reduce video quality to ease the strain on broadband networks while many work from home
    • Italy, one of the countries hit worst by the pandemic, saw a 75% rise in broadband and mobile network traffic over the weekend
  • Israel has passed an emergency law allowing them to track the smartphone data of people with suspected COVID-19 and others they come into contact with to make sure they follow quarantine rules, which is kind of terrifying when you think of the ramifications

Apple has announced a bunch of new hardware coming down the pipe, and DaringFireball has a solid breakdown of what we can expect

  • New iPad Pro models are coming with faster CPUs and GPUs
    • They also come with more storage, with the base model up to 128GB from 64GB, all for the same prices
    • They’ve also added a LiDAR sensor (basically a laser range-finder) which could mean much faster and more effective augmented reality apps
  • iPadOS 13.4 is coming this Tuesday and will include full system-wide pointer support for mice and trackpads
    • This looks pretty slick, being a round cursor when mousing around and then disappearing and highlighting buttons and controls when hovering over them
  • There will be a new Magic Keyboard iPad case coming in May with an integrated trackpad and backlit keys
    • It looks pretty powerful with no kickstand and adjustable angles, converting the iPad Pro into an actual , albeit topheavy, clamshell laptop
  • And the new MacBook Air has double the storage, greatly improved performance, and the prices have dropped significantly
    • With the price drops and storage increases, you can compare the previous generation’s slower 256GB model costing $1299USD to the brand new faster equivalent at $999
      • If you do want to spend $1299, you end up with a much beefier processor and double the storage
    • And as a bonus, they now have the new scissor-switch keyboard that solves many of the issues with Apple’s butterfly mechanism

China deploys a ton of ‘No touch’ Hologram elevator buttons

http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/demand-china-surges-no-touch-hologram-buttons/
  • A technology company in the city of Hefei, west of Shanghai, has attracted more than 100 orders for its holographic lift buttons as Chinese look for ways to avoid touching surfaces that may harbour the Covid-19 virus.
  • The device works by projecting an image of buttons in the air, and allowing users to “touch” them. The maker, Easpeed, says it can be fitted to all elevators, and has a response time of less than 30 milliseconds.
  • The system is relatively expensive, at about $2,000, prompting some building owners to opt for retrofitted voice controls, at a cost of around $500.
  • This has been done in hospitals in Yichang, Hubei Province, and Beijing’s Xiaotangshan Hospital.
  • Zhu Yongzhi, vice president Easpeed, told Global Times that the accuracy of voice control varied depending on noise levels, and the languages and dialects of the speaker.
  • He added that his company had received orders from Shanghai, Beijing, and Hangzhou in east China’s Zhejiang Province, and that the price may fall once Easpeed begins mass production.
  • Another approach has been taken by Huawei, which has developed an app that allows users to use a mobile phone to call elevators and select levels.
  • Meanwhile, those Chinese citizens who find themselves in unimproved lifts have taken their own measures, by using pens, toothpicks and keys to call their transport. Some may even have taken the stairs …

Watch Netflix with friends all from the comfort of you own homes!

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/netflix-party-lets-you-watch-movies-online-togethe/1100-6474858/
  • Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with your friends online.
    • Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows.
  • How it works.
    • Install Netflix Party
    • Clicking the “Install Netflix Party” button on this page. Once you are redirected to the Chrome Web Store, click “Add to Chrome” to finish installing Netflix Party.
  • Open a Video in Netflix
    • Go to Netflix’s website. Choose any show you would like to watch and start playing the video.
  • Create your party
    • To create your party, click on the red “NP” icon located next to the address bar. Then click “Start Party” to get the party started, and share the party URL to invite friends.
  • Join a Netflix Party
    • To join a party click on the party URL, which will redirect to Netflix’s website. Then click on the “NP” button next to the address bar, and you should automatically join the party.
  • Has some customization options
    • User icon and nickname
    • Upload screenshots, emojis and GIFs
  • Netflix Party claims they have over 500 thousand users already
    • Is is not clear is they are affiliated with Netflix
    • Since they have a Patreon of $5 a month, I feel they are not
    • And with all participants needing their own access to Netflix
      • I doubt this will be taken down
      • But we never know

Tidbits

  • Microsoft’s been confirming the nuts and bolts of the Xbox Series X this last week, including a fancy solid-state drive, but they’ve made a bit of a misstep when it comes to expansion
    • They’re going to be selling the Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card, a proprietary mcguffin developed with Seagate that you’ll need if you want to install more games than the internal storage allows. USB is allowed for backup, but not for gameplay
      • The cards will apparently offer some portability though, letting players bring a card loaded with games to a friend’s Xbox and play them there
    • Almost in response, Sony announced that the PS5 will have an expansion bay for an off-the-shelf solid-state drive, though they will be certifying specific drives to meet the new PCI Express 4.0 standard
  • After founding Microsoft in 1975, Bill Gates has left the its board entirely last week to dedicate more time to his philanthropic endeavours
    • It was a surprisingly quiet announcement, snuck in on a Friday under the headline “Microsoft announces change to its board of directors”
  • Apple has been fined a record $1.23B in France for price-fixing with their Apple Premium Reseller program
    • The French competition agency said that under the program, Apple published recommended prices and tightly restricted promotional materials distributors could use. One distributor said that if it ran a promotion Apple didn’t like, the company would retaliate by limiting product supply
    • The agency also found that Apple limited supplies to partners during moments of heavy demand around new product launches, to steer customers to its own stores
    • All in all some pretty nasty business practices that don’t sound very legal at all
  • Comcast has mistakenly published the names, phone numbers, and addresses of nearly 200,000 customers that pay monthly fees to remain unlisted
    • The information was made available on Ecolisting, a directory run by Comcast, and shortly thereafter picked up by third party directories
    • Comcast has shut that directory down, paid each customer $100 in credits, and offered free number changes, but the last time something like this happened in 2015 it resulted in a $33M settlement
    • This could be a very big deal for people that need to stay anonymous online for things like personal safety reasons, as even though they can change their phone numbers their names and addresses are out there now

New Overwatch Character #32, Echo

Backstory

  • Dr Mina Liao, Expert in robotics and artificial intelligence
    • Joined the Omnica Corporation and helped create the omnic race
    • During the Omnic Crisis, she was enlisted by Commander Morrison to join Overwatch
    • Mina created the Echo Project, to create an adaptive AI highly advanced robot to help with her vision of the future

Abilities

  • Primary attack
    • Tri-Shot – 15 shots before relead
    • Shoots 3 projectiles in a triangle pattern
  • Secondary Attack
    • Sticky Bombs – 5 second cooldown
    • Shoots a volley of bombs that stick to enemies and detonates after a short time
    • can be combined with Primary attack
      • Unlike Zenyatta’s charge attack
  • Primary Ability
    • Flight
    • Initial boost forward
    • Followed by a short time of free flight
    • She can also glide
      • Faster falling than Mercy’s similar ability, but more maneuverability
  • Alternate Ability
    • Focusing Beam
    • Deals significantly more damage to characters that are under 50% health
    • Also deals more damage to Barriers that are below 50%
      • Funfact – The first cracks on a barrier are when it falls to 50%
  • Ultimate
    • Duplicate
    • Echo will duplicate an enemy character for 15 seconds
    • Echo replicates the appearance of the hero and gains all their abilities
    • Damage done or healed, in this transformed state will accumulate more Ult charge than in regular gameplay
    • If you are defeated, you lose your transformation, and become Echo again
    • Quality of life enhancement added to confirm the character selected before transforming
      • It is also added to Ana’s Ultimate, to confirm the character you will be boosting
  • She is a very advanced character and will have a long time on the PTR

 

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