PS2J 307 News – Ransomware Quality Control

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Melbits World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • WRC 8 World Rally Championship

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

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

    • NBA 2k20

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

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

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

    • Hue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clone High is coming back!?!

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

Tidbits

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

 

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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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Free games

– Epic Games

    – Close to the Sun

        – 2019
        – First-person horror adventure similar to Bioshock that puts you in the role of Rose Archer, trying to save her sister Ada in an alternate 1897 that has Tesla and Edison fighting for technological dominance around the world

    – Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments

        – 2014
        – Adventure mystery game in the same series as The Devil’s Daughter, that has you exploring crime scenes and examining clues to link deductions and attempt to find the culprit in six different mysteries

Update to last week’s PSA- Apple has released iOS, macOS, and watchOS updates that fix the issue with FaceTiming older devices, so if you’re using FaceTime to keep in touch with people still using systems that don’t support the latest software you’ll want to prioritize updating

Continuing their past security and privacy shenanigans, Zoom is really cementing why they shouldn’t be used if you can avoid it
– Their latest mistakes include “accidentally” routing calls through China, which is the last place on earth you’d want your poorly encrypted video chats routed through, and exposing thousands of videos online because the file names are easily accessible
    – The Washington Post found that, because Zoom names every video recording with the same format, a simple online search can reveal a long stream of videos that anyone can download and watch.
    – Reporters found things like one-on-one therapy sessions, training orientation for healthcare that included private names and phone numbers, meetings including financial information, and elementary school classes in which children’s faces and personal details were exposed
– Zoom has really been playing fast and loose with security and privacy, and it’s time that we let them know that’s not okay

Researchers are now calling on people to wear cloth masks when leaving their homes for essential reasons

– One big thing to note is that they’re not saying physical interaction is okay if you wear a mask, but that if you have to go out anyway a cloth mask has a chance to improve risks of transmission
– Using cloth masks will free up stock of medical-grade equipment for those who need it on the frontline of healthcare (seriously, if you have any paper or N95 masks please donate them to a hospital. Medical professionals need them more than you do), and professors at Yale say that even if cloth masks reduce transmission by 10% (and that’s likely a very conservative number) each one could have a value of $3000-$6000 due to their impact in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
    – Best estimates say that their protective value is even closer to 40-50%
– You can find plenty of cloth masks online nowadays, and if you’re feeling crafty the CDC has released guidelines on how to make your own with a few different methods suggested for all skill levels, from sewing a fancy one to cutting one out of a t-shirt to just folding a bandana around a coffee filter- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
– The biggest thing though is to make sure you’re practising good hand hygiene, washing them frequently, and not touching your face.
    – Be conscious of your mask and hands, because you may end up wanting to touch your face more to adjust and position your mask while wearing it
    – Make sure you have one that fits comfortably, don’t touch it, and if you do make sure to immediately wash your hands
    – Also note that once you’ve worn your mask it’s contaminated- don’t just throw it in your pocket for later use. Make sure to wash it frequently and be aware that it can contaminate whatever it comes into contact with before you do so

Sony has unveiled their new DualSense controllers for the upcoming PS5, and they’re very pretty

– It looks like they’ve taken cues from the Xbox One and Switch Pro controllers in making things a little more rounded and smooth, continuing the evolution of the classic Playstation controller mold that the PS4 revamped
– They’ve also added haptic feedback for more meaningful vibration, similar to Nintendo’s Joy-cons, and adaptive triggers so that they can dynamically change the resistance of the pull depending on context (like drawing a bowstring)
– The controller also has a built-in microphone array for quick conversations so you don’t need a headset
– All in all this seems like a great improvement of the DualShock 4, and I’m really looking forward to using one

In a move with some great timing, Google’s Stadia is now free for anyone with a Gmail address

– And the cherry on top is that Stadia Pro, including access to nine games, is free for the next two months
    – Destiny 2: The Collection
    – Grid
    – Gylt
    – SteamWorld Dig 2
    – SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
    – Serious Sam Collection
    – Spitlings
    – Stacks on Stacks (on Stacks)
    – and Thumper
– You’ll be able to play games on a computer, Chrome tablet, Pixel phone, and other supported Android devices including the Chromecast Ultra
    – You can also play with any supported USB or Bluetooth controller, or your mouse and keyboard
– After the two month free trial you’ll be charged $9.99/month, but you can cancel your subscription online if you choose

Tidbits

– Apple has purchased the popular weather app Dark Sky this week, announcing that while there will be no changes to the app itself they will be ending Android support this July. They’ll also be shutting down the API at the end of 2021, affecting other popular apps like Carrot Weather that use them as a data source
– Users of the digital wallet app Key Ring will want to update as soon as possible due to a large security breach
    – Security researchers have found that the app accidentally exposed personal info for over 44M users due to misconfigured cloud servers
        – The potentially compromised data includes names, birthdates, emails, addresses, and loyalty card info
    – Key Ring hasn’t made a public statement so we don’t know how long the data’s been out there, so anyone using it will want to update the security settings for anything linked to it and perhaps rethink continuing to use it at all
– Apple’s had a tough time with AirPod replacements, with many individual AirPods being shipped to customers with an unreleased firmware preventing them from being used
    – In order to have both AirPods synced to your phone at once they need to have matching firmware. The problem here is that they can’t be downgraded to the current version, and the newer firmware hasn’t been released to the public, so users are having to work back and forth with Apple trying to get AirPods that will actually work together with varying amounts of success
    – The hardest part is that this all has to occur through the mail, since Apple Stores are now slated to be closed until at least May

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Top story this week, two college students stand accused of costing Apple nearly $900,000 in losses with their creative counterfeiting scheme

  • The scam had the students ordering large amounts of fake, unusable iPhones from China, and then sending them in to Apple while claiming they were under warranty
  • All the claims indicated “No power/wired charging issues” as the reason, to explain why they wouldn’t start up, and then they just needed to get lucky and have Apple employees send a replacement before the fakes were found out
  • All told they sent in over 3000 warranty claims, and while about half of them were rejected the other 1500 phones were replaced by Apple no questions asked
  • The real phones were then sent back to China and sold to bargain-hunting consumers
  • The worst part here is if they’d operated on a smaller scale they might not have even gotten caught- Apple seemed content with sending hundreds of warranty replacements to a random person’s home address, and the only reason they were caught was because Hong Kong customs officials seized several shipments of the fake iPhones after noticing the shipping methods and packaging didn’t match Apple’s usual standards
 

The Switch is getting VR support on some major titles this month

  • You might recall us talking about Nintendo’s Labo VR headset back in episode 240
  • First, Super Mario Odyssey is getting a bite-sized bonus experience with mini missions set in the Cap, Seaside, and Luncheon Kingdoms
  • Then, from what I’ve read, Breath of the Wild is getting full VR support!
    • It doesn’t convert the game into first person, but rather makes your head the camera for more fine-tuned control and immersion
    • According to Nintendo, “turning the feature on and off is a snap”
  • It’ll be interesting to see how the graphics change in these modes to get the framerates that VR really needs, plus there aren’t any details yet on how exactly the cardboard headset will strap on, or if you have to just hold it the whole time
  • Both experiences require free software updates, coming on April 25th
 

Sony’s PlayStation Network ID change system is finally live this week, but it hasn’t really improved much since we talked about the beta release back in episode 221

  • The name change is only supported by games originally published on or after April 1, 2018
  • At least 10 games have known “critical issues” , including Everbody’s Golf and Little Big Planet 3, that can have users losing ingame progress, progress toward trophies, and in-game currency either earned or paid
  • There are also a bunch of games like Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, GTA V, The Last of Us, and Warframe that have problems ranging from just displaying your old ID to reverting all settings back to their defaults
  • There’s a list of games that Sony has tested available on the PlayStation website, and if that all sounds good you can get your first name change for free and then future changes are $10 (or $5 for PS+ subscribers)
 

Third party controller company PDP is bringing a basic missing feature to the Switch

  • Their new wired controller coming in June will include a headset port for any games using Vivox in-game chat (like Fortnite)
    • Currently the Switch has very limited voice chat support, so games like Splatoon require you run a separate app on your phone and use a splitter to combine the audio manually
  • Potentially the hardware could work with any in-game chat, but it will be up to game developers to decide how they want to proceed with support
 

Amazon’s coming under fire this week after Bloomberg reported on their Alexa Improvement facilities, where thousands of employees listen to voice recordings captured whenever Alexa thinks it hears a trigger word

  • Even more damning, rather than scrambling identifiers and distorting audio, they actually link your first name, account number, and serial number to the recording
  • There is a way to turn off the feature, but it’s on by default and not immediately apparent when you’re setting up a new device
  • If you’re concerned about privacy you should absolutely go through your Alexa settings and review exactly what’s getting sent where
 
 

Design and Game Awards

 

Tidbits

  • Netflix has removed the ability to AirPlay videos from your phone to other devices, which has been a feature for the last 6 years, citing technical limitations
    • A spokesperson provided some more details later, saying that because AirPlay support is rolling out for third-party devices they’re taking their ball and going home
      • I mean, they’re saying there isn’t a way to tell what device is being streamed to or to certify the experiences, which is kind of a non-answer considering they already couldn’t tell what TV you’re using so…
  • A new ad for Smash Bros Ultimate on Nintendo’s YouTube channel may have accidentally spoiled a Stage Builder mode coming soon
    • Within the first couple seconds of the video you can see the Smash Ultimate menu including an icon for Stage Builder in the bottom corner, so it’ll be interesting to see if they announce that update in the next Nintendo Direct
  • Using 10 radio telescopes working in parallel to act as a giant telescope the size of Earth, astronomers have put together the first-ever picture of a black hole
    • It’s an amazing feat of technology and programming years in the making, and we’ve gotten our first good look at this super massive black hole that’s 55M light-years away and about the size of our entire solar system
 

Recommend The Academy by Bentley Little

  • It’s an paranormal horror/thriller that’s centred around a high school that suddenly starts going through some unsettling changes
  • It does a great job of building an atmosphere of dread and unease
  • If you’re looking for a creepy slow burn with moments of solid wtf, you’ll probably like it

 

Literally Misleading

MOVIE – Brothers party their way all the way to success!

 

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Patreon is back at it again, ruining their perfectly good business model because investors are annoyed they’re not getting more money for less work

  • Under the existing setup they’re basically just a transaction processor, allowing creators to receive a little support from a lot of people more effectively than users could on their own
    • Creators currently get 90% of pledges, with 5% going to transaction fees and the other 5% padding Patreon’s pockets
    • Considering they just announced they’ve payed out over $1B in payments, that 5% is pretty sizeable
    • Especially because the business scales indefinitely- adding more users doesn’t really add to their overhead or staffing needs
      • Compare that to a service like YouTube where a channel could upload hours of video a day, taking up a ton of storage and processing, but if no one watches them then there’s no return on that investment
  • Unfortunately under the guise of “building a sustainable business”, aka their investors (who they didn’t need) want all of the money forever, they’re moving to creator membership tiers with higher costs and mucking with features that everyone uses
    • Keep in mind, their business is kind of the definition of sustainable
  • So, what does this mean for creators? Well the plus side is they say current accounts won’t see any changes (though they’ve sprung changes on us without warning before, so that could change)
  • New creators will get to choose between Patreon Lite, Patreon Pro, and Patreon Premium
    • Lite gets you a basic creator page with no membership tiers, and Patreon keeps 5%
    • Pro gets you basically what they’re offering now, with membership tiers, analytics, and promo tools. This is the one they’re grandfathering existing accounts into at no extra charge, but new accounts will pay Patreon 8%
    • Premium has all that plus a “dedicated partner manager”, team accounts, merch for membership, and the privilege of giving up 12% of their income with a minimum $300 fee
  • All in all they’re charging more for the same features, and adding on new features that, from what I’ve seen, current Patreon creators don’t care about
 

Nintendo’s Nindies Showcase was this week, and here are some of the highlights

  • Cuphead is coming to the Switch on April 18 with Xbox Live support (so presumably trophies?)
  • My Friend Pedro, a 2.5D run and gun you’ve probably seen gifs of on Reddit with its ridiculously stylish and acrobatic gunplay, it hitting the Switch this June
  • The creators of Crypt of the NecroDancer are bringing us a Zelda themed adventure this spring in Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda
    • Uses an art style reminiscent of portable Zelda games and features 25 remixed songs from the franchise
  • Those are some of the bigger ones announced, but it’s definitely worth your time to check out the other trailers as well
 

We also saw some details on Google’s new Stadia game streaming service, and it looks interesting

  • One of the biggest pieces to it is being able to play a game within seconds of seeing the trailer on YouTube
    • Official trailers could add a Play Now button, launching the game directly within your browser and letting you play immediately
    • They say as long as you have a stable internet connection, you can play modern games without hitches even on phones, tablets, or chromebooks
  • You can play with whatever you have connected to the device you’re streaming on- controller or mouse/keyboard, or you can use their fancy Stadia controller that actually connects directly to the cloud via wifi
    • Plus it’s got built-in integration with Google Assistant- with the press of a single button it will automatically detect where in the game you are and show you the most relevant YouTube video to help out
  • They also say that, because the processing is all done in the cloud, developers won’t have to worry about performance when it comes to couch co-op and dealing with rendering a split screen
  • id Software has even announced that Doom Eternal, the sequel to Doom’s 2016 reboot, will be playable on Stadia in 4K at 60fps
  • There are still a lot of questions, like latency and costs, not to mention how developers can expect to get paid, but if nothing else this will continue to push the cloud gaming conversation forward
  • Fingers crossed this doesn’t mark the beginning of the end of offline gaming, especially since I don’t really want me gaming completely controlled by Google
 

After Disney fired James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 over some decade-old tweets dug up by right-wing personalities, they’ve finally decided on a new director- James Gunn!

  • Apparently while the film was on hold they never started searching for a new director, and instead became convinced he should be given a second chance
  • He’s still making The Suicide Squad, so Guardians 3 won’t be coming out for a couple more years yet
  • As fellow APN member I Have Some Notes said on Twitter, “People who say terrible things should be admonished, people who say terrible things but apologize and learn should be encouraged”
 

Netflix is getting back in the interactive adventure game with You vs Wild

  • The show will star Bear Grylls across 8 episodes as he attempts to survive extreme conditions and climates, and ask viewers to decide what he does and whether he succeeds or fails
  • All 8 episodes are hitting Netflix on April 10
 

For more proof that we’re in the darkest timeline, NASA has issued a warning about space herpes after the virus was found reactivating in crew aboard the shuttle and ISS

  • Apparently spaceflight increases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can suppress the immune system
  • The worst parts are, the longer the mission the more it seemed the viruses were reactivating, and it can have lasting effects up to 60 days after landing
 

Tidbits

  • Apple’s released new second-gen AirPods with their usual speed improvements, plus they’ve added Hey Siri functionality and a fancy new optional wireless charging case
    • AirPower is still nowhere to be found, but apparently Apple just recently got their hands on that trademark so it could be here next year for gen3
    • Either way, the new ones have launched at exactly the same price as the old ones with some extra features so I’d call that a win
    • We also saw some low-key updated to the iMac and iPad lines, with the new iPad mini finally getting a retina display and Apple Pencil support
  • A fancy new Oculus headset, the Rift S, is coming this spring with higher-resolution screens and a PSVR-like headband
    • It also comes with Oculus Touch controllers and not require any external tracking sensors, all for $399 USD
  • Hello Games continues to revamp No Man’s Sky with this summer’s Beyond update, bringing “radical new” multiplayer components
    • The new No Man’s Sky Online will specifically avoid subscription fees and microtransactions, and will be free for all existing players
 
 
Recommend The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut series) by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Really interesting, entertaining, and human alternate history set in a world that a large scale disaster in 1952 has humanity accelerate space programs to create colonies on other planets
  • This is a series where I find myself really reading the acknowledgements, because it’s so cool how many scientists, astronauts, and pilots contributed to the accuracy
  • You don’t often see fiction novels with a bibliography

Literally Misleading

From our lovely Family member Scott.

Check out his twitter @scottybomb and his podcast The Read-Along, its a weekly book club for where you can follow along with Scott and Anita!

(Movie) “A father’s present to his son goes awry when the instructions aren’t correctly followed.”

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A huge thanks to Dalton, for believing in us for so long. 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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Blizzard hit an usual low, whats Diablo Immortal? Two tough ladies are added to Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm. Alan recommends peak a Nick Cage movie, and Josh suggests a local Alberta Podcast.

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PS2J 212 News – Same But More Secure

New update to the Master Chief collection. Josh thanks a listener and gives a site update. Alan recommends a cute indie game, and Josh has a free boadgame app to check out.

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A huge thanks to Dalton, our favourite fan. And thanks to all our Official Fans that support us.
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The wrestling event of the year comes to Heroes of the Storm. A local comic shop falls victim to an awful movement. Josh recommends a board game and Alan shares a manga.

Thanks @vanillabeanpuff for the suggestion, we will try it out!

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.
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