Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Killing Floor 2

      • 2016
      • First person wave-based shooter than can be played solo or with up to 6 players cooperatively, it has you descending into continental Europe after it’s been overrun by murderous clones called Zeds
      • They also added an asymmetrical PVP mode that has one or more players taking on the role of the Zeds to kill the mercenaries
    • Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition

      • 2014
      • Adventure puzzle platformer that has you exploring an alien planet where you stumble upon a derelict Soviet Union science outpost and try to piece together how they got there and where they’ve gone now
      • The Premier Edition brings new content, improved graphics, new original music, and additional voice-acting
    • The Escapists 2

      • 2017
      • Top-down strategy RPG that has you playing an inmate in a prison, following daily routines, completing quests for fellow inmates, and seeking opportunities to escape
      • It also includes local and online multiplayer, either cooperative where two players help eachother break out or competitive where two teams see who can break out the fastest
  • Ubisoft is hosting their first all-digital conference streaming live on July 12, and if you log on to ubisoft.com/forward during the event you can get a free copy of Watch Dogs 2

Surprising completely no one, Google-backed groups are criticizing Apple’s warnings about user tracking

  • The next batch of updates coming to Apple software this fall have a lot to do with user tracking- specifically, giving you prompts when websites or apps are trying to track you across multiple services
  • Well a group of 16 marketing associations, many backed by Facebook and Google, are getting mad at Apple for not sticking to the existing ad-industry standard for getting user consent under European privacy rules, complaining that between the current adding a second layer of permissions increases the risk that users will refuse
  • Apple defended the move, and I believe rightfully so, by saying that the new feature is aimed at giving users greater transparency over how their info is being used and monetized
  • And really, if the best argument against giving users more opportunities to say no is that they might take them, you might have some predatory practices that need to be looked at

After allegations have been made about wildly inappropriate, unethical, and immoral behaviour in competitive Smash Bros communities, Nintendo has made a statement saying that they “condemn all acts of violence, harassment, and exploitation against anyone and that we stand with the victims.”

  • Apparently dozens of high-profile figures in the community have been accused of sexual misconduct, like harassment, assault, and grooming minors

In the latest of what I’m sure will be a long line of ass-coverings, LinkedIn says that their app reading iPhone clipboards after every keystroke is a bug and will be fixed soon

  • They’re blaming it on code that compares your clipboard contents with what has been typed in a textbox, which seems weird even on its own
  • iOS 14, now in beta, alerts users every time data they’ve copied is read by an app, and we’ve seen this catch out apps like TikTok, Twitter, Starbucks, and many more reading this information for no good reason
  • The Weather Network, also caught out by this, says that they only used the info if a user wished to share diagnostic information for troubleshooting and that they’ve reached out to Apple for guidance

Infinity Ward has quietly removed the OK gesture from Modern Warfare and Warzone

  • There hasn’t been any official statement about why, but this was likely in continuing support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • A while back 4Chan decided to help white supremacists appropriate the symbol (some claimed as a joke), saying that the three upraised fingers made a W and the circle made a P when you take the forearm into account
  • Regardless of their possible intentions, they have actually succeeded to the point that racists and terrorists have been sincerely using the symbol in dog-whistling photos and acts of terror against minorities and people of colour
  • The Anti-Defamation League even had to add it to their list of hate symbols in September of last year

SUPERHOT – MIND, CONTROL, DELETE is leaving Early access on July 16th after four years of development, and being given away free to anyone that purchased the original beforehand (free giveaways don’t count, though Kickstarter does)

  • The third game in the franchise, it’s bringing more immersion, more story, more characters, and more gameplay to the original SUPERHOT ‘first person shooter where time only moves when you do’ formula
  • The original is currently 60% off at get.superhotgame.com, so it’s a great time to get into it

Randonautica

  • Choose Your Own Adventure

  • Creepy findings

  • Randonaut Responsibly!

    • #1 Never, ever trespass onto private property.
      • We. Are. SERIOUS. Get as close to the point as you are comfortable without trespassing onto private property. Never enter someone’s backyard without permission. Never enter privately marked wooded or commercial areas. Trespassing onto private property is a direct violation of the user agreement for Randonautica. Owners and law enforcement will see the user as liable for trespassing or damages, not Randonautica. DO NOT TRESPASS.
    • #2 Stay totally clear of dangerous areas.
      • Never go near train tracks, railways or restricted electrical/power zones. Additionally, old structures, houses and buildings should be avoided entirely. The structural integrity could be jeopardized due to deterioration.
    • #3 Only adventure during the day.
      • The human mind is not trained for uncertainty and traveling to a totally randomized set of coordinates requires you to over-observe your surroundings and practice situational awareness. This is much easier to do while it is light outside. Randonauting at night is highly discouraged.
    • #4 Leave the environment better off than when you arrived.
      • Since the very beginning of the Randonaut community we’ve always said, Bring A Trashbag! Not only will you help mother nature by picking up litter, sometimes the trash can have unique and meaningful information to you!
    • #5 Always Randonaut with a charged phone.
      • Be smart and charge your phone or bring a car charger. GPS can drain your battery and you are very likely to be in an unfamiliar area.
    • #6 Keep a positive mindset!
      • What you think, you observe! Negative intentions are HIGHLY discouraged. The Randonautica app was created to bring joy, peace and love to curious explorers all over the world.
    • #7 Go on the journey with a friend or small group.
      • While Randonauting alone is entirely acceptable, beginners should start in a small group or with a friend. Uncertainty of where you are going (the randomness!) can cause a fear factor response and having a buddy helps!
    • #8 Do not venture into areas outside your comfort zone.
      • Only make the trip to areas and places you are comfortable exploring. If you feel unsafe, do not leave your vehicle or retreat from the point. Randonautica does not know anything about the area you live in. Use common sense.
    • #9 Always use common sense when it comes to your personal physical limitations.
      • Sometimes a point might be in an area that is inaccessible without climbing, hiking, etc. Know your limits. Always hydrate and do not overextend yourself.
    • #10 Enjoy the whole journey, not just the point!
      • Get as close to the point as you are comfortable with but know the journey is sometimes the more meaningful experience!

99% Invisible

Freedom House Ambulance Service

Tidbits

  • Twitch has managed to put their collective foot in their mouth twice, first with a video that included the line “The G in LGBTQIA+ also stands for gamer”, and then with a Black Lives Matter video that barely featured any non-white creators
    • Both videos have since been pulled down and Twitch has stated that though their goal was to demonstrate the importance of allyship, they didn’t make it clear.
  • Ireland has launched their contact tracing app this week, taking advantage of the Apple/Google exposure notification API
    • The app downloads a list of anonymous IDs every two hours from those who have tested positive for COVID, letting users get alerts a lot faster than with a manual phone interview system
    • It also have features for those that have tested positive to track their symptoms and how they’re feeling, and for those that aren’t it shows facts and figures for the virus inside Ireland
  • iPhone users have taken to support forums and reddit to report battery drain issues related to the Music app, citing large amounts of background activity even on new devices that haven’t launched the Music app before
    • People have reported things like the app using 95% of their device’s battery across 18 hours of background activity when they weren’t even listening to music
    • The only consistent fix has been to remove the Music app, but for many that’s not really an option
  • Epic Games has launched their new Live Link Face app that lets game developers using the Unreal Engine use their iPhones’ TrueDepth camera for facial motion capture
    • I’ve tried it out and it’s pretty slick from a recording and facial mesh perspective, but to actually see it in action and applying the movements to a 3D model you need to connect it to a computer or full motion capture rig
    • It will definitely open up motion capture prospects to many who wouldn’t otherwise have the tech for it
  • Halo 3 is finally coming to the Master Chief Collection for PC on July 14th, and with it many redditors are excited for all the custom game types they know and love from the Xbox

Homework

 

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PS2J 301 News – The Boy Who Cired YouTube

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Anna’s Quest

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

    • Grand Theft Auto 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Paper Mario on Switch!

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

Tidbits

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

 

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Free games

– Epic Games

    – 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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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

 

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

Thank you to Darren, we want to make things you’ll find interesting!

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 287 News – Who Knows What We’ll Name It

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Desert Child

      • 2018
      • An indie racing RPG that throws you into the role of a hungry, young hoverbike racer who needs to get off Earth before it explodes- hunt bounties, throw races, get to Mars, and win the Grand Prix
    • American Fugitive

      • 2019
      • Top-down open world sandbox that has you framed for your father’s murder, you’ll need to do whatever it takes to unveil the real culprit while evading the police at every turn
    • Steredenn

      • 2015
      • Side-scrolling rogue-like shoot-em-up in space, with sharp pixel graphics and chaotic boss battles in a never-ending combat for survival
    • Narcos: Rise of the Cartels

      • 2019
      • Turn-based action strategy based on the Netflix TV series, it has you exploring the first season from two sides with two unique stories
      • Unfortunately it seems to take the XCOM formula and water it way down, so while it seems tactical you can only move one person on each turn
    • White Night

      • 2015
      • Survival horror puzzle game where you explore the past of an old mansion in the 1930’s and solve puzzles of light and shadows in an entirely black and white setting.
  • Epic

    • Carcassonne

      • 2017
      • A competitive tile placement game of creating landscapes, claiming areas, and gaining points, with online play and a ton of replayability
    • Ticket to Ride

      • 2008
      • Another classic European-style board game that has you racing other players to build up your rail routes and reach your destinations
    • Pandemic was initially supposed to be included as well, but has actually been completely pulled from the Epic Games store. A statement from Epic said only that they’re shifting it to be free at a later date

Russia’s law against Apple devices seems to be proceeding according to plan, with the July 2020 deadline looming ever-closer

  • Back in episode 283 we talked about the new legislation passed in Russia by Vladimir Putin that would ban the sale of devices that don’t have a specific list of Russian apps pre-installed
  • This soon became known online as Russia’s law against Apple, as Apple has historically never allowed carrier bloatware or other apps to be bundled onto their devices- you get the same iOS experience regardless of where you buy your device
  • Well the list of required apps has finally been released and among them are government-produced apps for paying taxes and fines, as well as some banking, navigation, and social medial platforms with links to official government bodies
    • All of these apps have the potential to collect and send data related to finances, location, communications, and more, all without direct user permission
  • All in, it seems like a terrible idea for the privacy of any citizen of the world, and especially when Russia is behind it. If we see tech companies allowing this to go through I’m sure China won’t be too far behind
    • While Apple could leave the $3B market in Russia, and I’m sure a healthy grey or black market would crop up in the meantime, the $13B China would be a tougher proposition. We’ll just have to hope that companies don’t put a price tag on our privacy

Blizzard’s new Warcraft 3 remaster is so unpopular that they’re now offering instant refunds, but that’s still not enough for many players

  • The remastered Warcraft 3: Reforged launched late last week, meant to be a remake of Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne expansion, introducing a revamped user interface and enhanced cutscenes, along with more dialogue and tweaks to the campaign to align it with the lore of WoW
  • Unfortunately the plans seem to have changed, with the UI almost identical to the old version, and though some voice lines have been tweaked there aren’t any massive changes. Even the cutscene updates are lackluster
  • Basically the only real update are the graphics- the visuals are sharper, more detailed, and more fluidly animated, but most of the improvements don’t make much difference unless you zoom too far in to be useful in an RTS setting
  • The biggest problem is that they didn’t introduce the game as a new version, but rather replaced the old version with a new client and game whether you own Reforged or not, just presenting a toggle in the settings to switch between the two
    • This wouldn’t be a big deal were it not for all the issues that come with the new client- connectivity problems, trouble getting into custom games, and a complete lack of competitive ranked game modes
    • Not to mention that the download now includes a ton of extra resources, totalling 27GB compared to the original sitting at just over 1GB, even if you don’t own Reforged
    • They even implemented a live public chat room that you get dumped in to at launch, similar to Overwatch, but with no option to report or mute users
      • Loading up custom maps just merges its chat in with the main open channel, so good luck coordinating with anyone
      • There’s also no native LAN support, so you’re stuck online even if you’re in the same room
    • Speaking of custom, custom campaigns are entirely gone
    • Oh, and if the game can’t get an online connection to Blizzard you can play single player, but it won’t save your progress even though the save files are all local anyway
  • The backlash has gotten to the point where, instead of the normal process of Blizzard looking in to what was wrong with your purchase and denying the refund if you’ve had the game for a while and been playing it, refunds are now being automatically and immediately approved
  • This doesn’t help users unable to get back to the old client through official means, but it at least offers players dissatisfied with Reforged a way to get their money back
    • For really dedicated players that want their old client back  there are a bunch of guides and videos details steps online, and they even support internet connectivity, but in the meantime they’ve actively removed features and made unwanted changes to an 18 year old game with no way to officially opt out

Amazon’s Ring home surveillance equipment is getting an update this week to address some, but not all, privacy concerns

  • The update creates a new control center in the app, adding options for two-factor authentication (which it now prompts for by default) and letting you see a list of all devices connected to your account
  • It also lets you opt out of receiving any requests from police for camera footage as a blanket setting, instead of having to refuse each request individually
    • This is a solid win for privacy with 897 police and sheriff departments listed as Ring partners with the ability to request those files
  • Unfortunately this still doesn’t fix everything, as footage uploaded to the Neighbors app has geographic info that lets you pinpoint a camera to the square inch, and they haven’t addressed the EFF report we talked about two weeks ago wherein they share a ton of information with marketing and analytics companies

Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service has left beta this week, and seems to actually fulfill many of the promises Google’s Stadia didn’t

  • All you have to do is download the app on a supported device, hook up your preferred controls, and connect to the servers. Then you can connect to a PC on the cloud and play one of hundreds of supported games from Steam, Epic Games, Battle.net, uPlay, Bethesda, and Origin (including many free to play titles)
    • The best part? They actually have a free tier right at launch!
  • Reporters at arsTechnica saw solid performance with minimal latency, to the point where they could play Sonic Mania without missing a jump or dash.
  • Whats more, because they basically just give you a virtual gaming PC you can go into a game’s full settings and tweak whatever settings you want to optimize the look and performance to wherever you want them
  • It’s never going to beat owning a gaming PC, but the ability to play these high-end PC games on a low-end Mac laptop is kind of bananas
    • It also supports Windows, mobile, and some smart TV’s, with eventual support for Chromebook coming later this year
  • Right now they’re offering two tiers:
    • Free, which gives you standard access and maximum one hour sessions (though you can immediately reconnect, you just might hit a queue depending on activity)
    • Founders, which is $5/month ($6.50 CAD) for priority access, extended sessions, ray-tracing gorgeousness, and a free three-month intro period
    • General streaming performance and game selection are the same between the two tiers, but the priority access will skip you to the head of the queue if the servers fill up
  • One big note on the game selection though is you don’t just load your existing game libraries to the service and to go town- you need to connect your other game store account, manually search for the game you want to play in GeoForce Now’s library tab, and add it to your account. Then you can launch those supported games through the GeForce Now app
    • There are also some loopholes where you can launch their Steam app and try starting games they don’t officially support, but for many games will hit errors when trying to run
    • There are even a bunch of supported games available through both Steam and Epic that can’t run from your Epic license, only Steam
  • All in all this is a pretty exciting time in gaming, with unparalleled access to this sort of thing as long as you have the internet connection to support it
    • Nvidia says that playing games will use about 15GB/hour, so be wary of your data caps!

Square Enix is releasing a brand new bundle-game this March called Kingdom Hearts All-in-One Package to bring together every game in the series up to KH3

  • The release history of this series is bonkers though. The All-in-One Package is pretty much just KH3 bundled with Kingdom Hearts: The Story So far
    • Which was Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
    • Which is made up of Final Mix, Re: Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days, 2 FInal Mix, Birth By Sleep Final Mix, and Re:code
  • It also includes 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, which itself is
    • Dream Drop Distance HD
    • 0.2 Birth by Sleep – a fragmentary passage
    • X Back Cover
  • But even with all that it’s still not a complete version, with the DLC for the third game, Re:Mind, still being sold separately

Here is a response to our call out for peoples Top 10 Games
I am going to try for the rest of the year to get everyone’s list!

Adam Blank (Remember the Game and Wrestling with Wrestling podcasts)
  • Super Mario World
  • Link to the Past
  • Mario Kart 8
  • Shovel Knight
  • Tetris
  • Donkey Kong County
  • Earthbound
  • Final Fantasy IV
  • Last of Us
  • Super Punch Out

Fake Magic card

  • Posted by Owner of Stony Plain Games & Collectibles, Lance
  • Lesson of the day!
    • You got to get up pretty early to fool this gaming shop owner!
  • Guy called me last night, want’s to know if I’ll trade in some expensive Magic the Gathering cards?
    • I ask him to come see me about it.
  • So today, said dude and his friend came in, looking to trade two MtG revised edition duel lands for shop credit?
    • (red flag-cash is king)
  • Right the way I could tell the cards looked ‘wrong’ in some way? I thought “these are proxies!” in my head.
    • (‘homemade’ copy of original version of an actual Magic card, used for gaming when one can’t afford the real thing. The guys that do proxies are getting VERY GOOD at it!)
  • They were pretty well done as the ‘rosette’ effect on the cards print when looked at under a x20 magnifier wasn’t far off an original, though of course there were differences enough even then to indicate it was a proxie.
    • (red flag 2)
      • A rosette effect is when in print, an image magnified looks like coloured dots in a flower pattern, and when observed nomally, look like a normal image. Its so the print colours of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, are printed in grids at different screen angles.
  • The print was too dark and that was the first thing to alert me as I first checked them out but one has to be sure!
    • (red flag 3)
  • Some incredible proxy cards come in from China that are quite hard to tell the difference unless, you know what you’re looking for! If you have old MtG cards you need verifying, bring them into me!
    • Nothing worse having a fraud version of an expensive card. In this instance the real version of this card was $375! Each! Did the dude know they were fake? IMO I’d say so.
    • He listed off the good stores in the city to buy singles, with their owners names, as well as the formats he played of the game, some of which are very expensive to play! (unless you use proxies lol!) So he had some pretty good knowledge of the game and community around Edmonton and surrounding area. When I eventually said these are proxies pal, he was ready with a slack apology but really didn’t seem surprised at all?
  • Which if you just lost $750 bucks worth of cards, you’d be a little more pissed than anything else. Wouldn’t you? Just be aware that there is an industry for printing proxy cards that are very close to the real thing except,….they are not! Fraud is fraud so don’t get ripped off if you happen to be in the market for some high end MtG cards!

     

Surveillance of UK citizens by private companies embedded on UK council websites

  • Article by Brave
  • A new report from Brave reveals that people seeking help for addiction, disability, and poverty on council websites are profiled by private companies in the UK
    • What is a council?
    • Councils provide a wide variety of services to their municipalities and enforce various federal, state and local laws for their communities. These services include public health, traffic, parking and animal management
  • Brave has uncovered widespread surveillance of UK citizens by private companies embedded on UK council websites.
    • None of the data collecting companies recorded in this study had received consent from the website visitor to lawfully process data.
  • These are the Quick Facts, that Brave provides:
    • Nearly all councils in the UK permit at least one company to learn about the behaviour of people visiting their websites.
    • People seeking information about disability, poverty, drugs and alcoholism services are profiled by data brokers on some council websites.
    • 198 council websites in the UK use the “real-time bidding” (RTB) form of advertising. Real-time bidding is the biggest data breach ever recorded in the UK. Though illegality is not in dispute, the UK Information Commissioner (ICO) has failed to act.
    • Google owns all five of the top embedded elements loaded by UK council websites, giving it the power to know what virtually anyone in the UK views on council sites.
    • Over of a quarter of the UK population is served by councils that embed Twitter, Facebook, and others on their websites, leaking data about what sensitive issues people read about to these companies.
    • 6.9 million people are served by councils that allow data broker LiveRamp to track people on their sites. Until recently, LiveRamp was part of the Acxiom Group, which sold data to Cambridge Analytica.
    • None of the data collecting companies recorded in this study had received consent from the website visitor to lawfully process data.
    • This report should spur Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, to finally enforce the GDPR. It is 17 months since formal evidence from Brave and complaints about breaches of data protection laws were filed before the ICO.
  • About Brave:

    • Brave is a new, private web browser. It has unmatched speed and battery life. And it also blocks data-grabbing ads and trackers.
    • 10 million people use Brave to make the web quicker and safer. You can download it for your phone or computer and browse the web with confidence.
    • Brave’s CEO is Brendan Eich, inventor of JavaScript, and co-founder of Mozilla/Firefox.

Google Maps Fooled by Man Who Used 99 Smartphones to Create a Fake Traffic Jam: Video

  • Article on Gadgets 360
  • Simon Weckert, a Berlin-based artist, used 99 smartphones and a hand cart to create ‘fake’ traffic jams in the German capital.
  • The slow pace of the hand cart and the fact that 99 phones were used caused Google Maps to believe that there were a lot of vehicles using a street that was actually empty.
    • Google uses this method to crowdsource traffic data the world over; smartphones in cars provide information to Google, including the speed at which they are moving, and how many smartphones are on that particular street.
  • If the pace is low and number is high, Google would show that segment of the street as red or maroon, suggesting that there is a traffic jam.
    • The video, that will be in the show notes on our website,  shows the streets on Google Maps gradually turning from green to maroon, suggesting that there was a traffic pileup on those streets.
    • Google’s navigation suggestions would then recommend that users avoid those streets, even though they were actually clear to drive on, apart from having to watch out for Weckert and his handcart.
  • Weckert hasn’t shared any further details, so it’s possible that this could have been faked entirely.
    • If it is authentic, Google should ideally be looking at ways to prevent such an exploit from being used, since this could have very real and physical implications on traffic movement.
    • In any case, don’t stop trusting Google Maps entirely; it’s not often that you have artists with 99 smartphones on a hand cart wandering around.

Tidbits

  • In an interesting prank / hack of Google Maps and their traffic data, Simon Weckert carted a wagon filled with 99 phones around simulating a traffic jam in the navigation app
    • One neat thing to note is the filtering Google uses for the data- if the phones all stopped moving entirely the traffic jam wouldn’t appear, and once a car using Google Maps drove past Google would see there was no jam and set it back to normal
  • Software engineer and blogger Robert Heaton took a trip down the rabbit hole recently and discovered that Wacom tablet drivers send a ton of identifying data when you use them, including details about every application you use and when you use them
    • Apparently the data is gathered for development purposes, but if you’re concerned about privacy and want to disable that you’ll need to open up the Wacom Desktop Center and disable the Wacom Experience Program
  • Allegedly leaked footage of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Z Flip hit Twitter this week, showing the clamshell device in action for the first time
    • Size-wise it reminds me of the Gameboy Advance SP, though flatter and wider, and fits better with what we’re expecting a folding screen on a smart phone to do- close and protect the screen
    • It also is rumoured to use special ultra-thin glass instead of the plastic used by the Galaxy Fold, which could prevent some of the display issues the Fold saw
  • Nintendo has announced that there won’t be any new Switch systems coming this year, quashing some rumours of the hoped for Switch Pro with increased power and improved performance
    • This is just going to widen the power gap already existing between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, and perhaps prevent ports of newer titles to the Switch, with the PS5 and Xbox Series X due out later this year

We want to know

What video game soundtrack would you like to soundtrack your life?

 

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

Thank you to Darren, thank you for believing in us!

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!

Free game

  • Epic Games

    • The Bridge

      • 2013
      • Winner of the 2012 Indie Game Challenge awards for Achievement in Art Direction and Achievement in Gameplay
      • Billed as Isaac Newton meets M.C. Escher, The Bridge is a logic puzzle game that has you manipulating gravity and exploring impossible architectures

More details on the FBI/Apple encryption argument, courtesy of Daring Fireball

  • The GrayKey device doesn’t actually break an iPhone’s encryption, it just exploits software flaws to remove the password attempt limit and then brute-forces it
  • That does mean that it will depend on the passcode used on the devices
    • A four digit passcode would take about 7 minutes
    • Six digits takes on average 11 hours
    • Eight is 46 days
    • Ten would take 12.5 years
    • If the passcode uses numbers and letters, then a six character passcode would take about 72 years to guess
  • So it’s a little unfair of us to say that the FBI can definitely crack the devices involved in crimes. On the plus side, that means if you use a passcode with both numbers and letters your data remains safe while Apple refuses to hand over a back door

Early adopters of Google’s Stadia platform, that paid $170 plus a monthly subscription for the privilege of testing the service, are starting to get chapped with the lack of updates

  • The service has been out for two months and still falls short of many of Google’s promises
  • The idea was that you could pay a subscription to play triple-A games in your browser, but at the moment the only access is available by buying the Premiere Edition which uses a special controller and a Chromecast Ultra
  • Meanwhile Google has gone largely silent, giving no word on when people can expect some of the promised features or highly anticipated releases
    • The Stadia doesn’t have voice chat, which even the Switch has an attempt at
    • Games promising 4K resolutions still aren’t hitting that target
    • Integration with YouTube doesn’t have a date for release
    • No word on when players can expect cross-platform gaming, either
    • And the big one, the promised free base version of the service, is still completely uncertain
      • This is the big sore spot, with a lot of people saying that the service could work really well for demo or trial versions if they didn’t have to pay a premium for access
  • So far it’s a subscription-based digital storefront with 26 games, only one of which is an exclusive- the other 25 are already available for other consoles, in many cases for less money
  • It really hammers home the Google philosophy- release services in beta, let them simmer for a few years, and then see if you still have a userbase. Then flip a coin on whether or not to shut it down anyway

Sony’s quietly launched a $40 controller attachment that turns any Dualshock 4 into a pro controller

  • The DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment plugs in to the bottom of the controller and, adding only a little weight, gives you two paddles on the back sitting naturally under your middle or ring fingers, so that you can press buttons without having your thumbs leave the analog sticks
  • One really nice thing about the added device is it works with no extra configuration or drivers- on your PS4, PC, wherever, the controller just now has two extra programmable buttons that can act as any of the other buttons on the controller
  • And the easiest part is that it actually has an OLED touchscreen on the back of the device where you can assign the buttons and save up to three profiles, all configurable on the device itself
  • Unfortunately it’s proven to be very popular- it was released the day of recording and it’s already sold out at multiple stores, with Amazon’s only remaining offering being sold at an extra $10 premium
  • All in all it sounds like a pretty slick device, and though it’s coming kind of late in the PS4’s lifespan there’s speculation that the DualShock 5 will have extra buttons and Sony has said the PS5 will be backward-compatible with all the PS4’s accessories

According to their latest app updates, EA is fully retiring their Tetris apps for iOS and Android

  • As of April 21, 2020, they’re shutting things down so that, from the sounds of it, even people who have kept the apps installed won’t be able to run them
  • People looking for their Tetris fix won’t have to look far though- The Tetris Co. announced that they have a new version available as a free download on both the App Store and Google Play
    • It’s pretty bare bones, with one game mode and control scheme compared to EA’s three modes and two methods of control, but they promise that this is just a foundation for much more to come
    • They also have plans to bring Tetris Royale, a mobile adaptation of the Switch’s Tetris 99, out of beta and into full release
    • Unfortunately at the moment the new core game developed by N3twork is pretty choked with ads, and the in-app purchase to remove them is $7, so with all that working against it the reviews are looking grim- 1 star in the app store, and the Google Play store has reviews complaining of bad controls and required internet connectivity.
      • It sounds playable, but a large step back from EA’s mobile Tetris games

Last week we asked:

With Byleth, being the final character to the first DLC Fighters Pack, who do you want to see in the next one?
Looking for a realistic answer, and a fantasy pick.
Let us guess which is which!
Listening to Remember The Game, Adam Blank’s retro gaming podcast
  • Dovahkiin
    • The Dragonborn from Skyrim
    • Would made a neat level and great soundtrack addition
  • With the addition of the Altair costume for Mii Fighters, is Ezio on the horizon?

Tidbits

  • Designers of the Jaws Board Game and Disney’s Villainous are working on a horror board game based on The Shining
  • Adobe Flash’s days continue to be numbered, with the latest Safari browser beta explicitly ending support for the web plugin
    • At the moment it’s disabled by default, but can still be installed and manually activated. Soon that won’t be the case for the built-in macOS browser and you may need to download Firefox or Chrome to do so
  • Beginning this February, new installs and updates of Office365 Pro Plus will include a Chrome extension that forcibly changes the default search engine from Google to Bing
    • The worst part is how purpose-built that extension is- if you already use Bing, it won’t even be installed.
    • If you want to change it back you’ll need to either find a new toggle that the extension adds to Chrome or remove the whole extension itself
    • From users to sysadmins, many are calling the change invasive and uncalled for. And I’m hard-pressed to disagree
  • Black Mesa, the glorious remaster/remix/love letter from fans to the original Half Life, has officially released their reimagined Xen chapters and is due for a full release early this year
    • Black Mesa has been around for years now but didn’t include the Xen portion of the game due to the sheer amount of work the developers wanted to put into it- the original chapters didn’t really feel like the same game, and they wanted to put even more polish into them than they did with the improved and expanded Earth chapters
    • In related news, in the ramp up to Half Life: Alyx Valve has made every previous official Half-Life game free to play until it comes out this March

We want to know:

With all these games being remastered and released on modern consoles, is there something you feel slipped through the cracks and could use a remaster?

 

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Thank you to Renee, thank you for believing in us!

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!

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Rime
      • 2017
      • Play as a young boy who has awakened on a mysterious island after a torrential storm. You see wild animals, long-forgotten ruins and a massive tower that beckons you to come closer. Armed with your wits and a will to overcome—and the guidance of a helpful fox—you must explore the enigmatic island, reach the tower’s peak, and unlock its closely guarded secrets.
 

SUPERHOT is tempting me over to the dark side of VR

  • The Oculus Quest, a standalone 360 room-scale wireless VR headset that uses the fancy Oculus Touch controllers, had a brand new version of SUPERHOT VR release this week
  • Developers say the gameflow has been completely rebuilt into what it was originally meant to be, letting you move through levels naturally instead of breaking them up into pieces that don’t require walking
    • SUPERHOT VR on PSVR uses “pyramids” to split up the action, so that you don’t have to move around
  • Best part is, any backers of the original SUPERHOT kickstarter are getting this version for free as well!
    • Backers should already have received an email prompting them to link their backer email to their Oculus account email, but if you haven’t you can send that information to: pleasecanihavethequestgame@superhotgame.com
    • Even if you don’t have a Quest headset, it might be worth getting the accounts linked now so that you have the game on your account for the future
 

Microsoft is joining the open world AR business With Minecraft Earth

  • ME is an upcoming free to play mobile game that’s looking to use AR to bring your Minecraft creations to the rest of the world
  • It’s all built on the existing Bedrock engine, so everything from Redstone machines to how physics affect water and sand will all work the same as the usual Minecraft experience
  • The big difference is that, using AR and GPS, your creations can be visible and modifiable by other people that you invite into your session
    • They’re not permanent, but you can temporarily share the structures with friends and even save a copy of what you built and send out links for people to play with on a table or in giant scale in an open space
    • The idea is to eventually have persistent structures around the world, but that will need a few more advancements in tech and especially in content moderation
  • Resources are gathered via “tapables”, randomly placed pickups that appear around you, in addition to gathering points linked to real-world locations
    • According to game director Tori Olafsson, “Every lake is a place you can fish, every park is a place you can chop down trees”
  • There will also be dynamically spawning adventures designed for multiple people to get involved in, ranging from peaceful and friendly to riskier dungeon delves
  • One thing to note here is that there’s no PVP- all blocks spawned drop for all players, so there’s no competition for resources
  • And with Microsoft’s computer wizardry they’re bragging that you can see everyone’s avatars walking, including the tools they’re using at the moment, and do things like stand in front of your friends to block them from attacking a virtual sheep
    • You’re essentially in the game, and your camera works as a lens you can see it through
  • All said and done this seems pretty cool and very ambitious, though from the sounds of Microsoft’s plans for the tech they may end up harvesting your location and camera data to ostensibly improve the product in the future
    • This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s always good to be aware of what you’re sharing with these companies and what they’re using it for
  • And this could relate to a tidbit I found, where Microsoft and Sony are apparently teaming up for some future projects leveraging Microsoft’s cloud computing and Sony’s game and image sensor expertise
  • Minecraft Earth will hit beta on iOS and Android sometime this summer
 

The American beta for Mario Kart Tour on Android kicked off this week, and thanks to the internet we’ve got a good idea of what you can expect on release

  • It looks like they’ve taken a normal Mario Kart game and changed the controls to make it similar to Super Mario Run- acceleration is automatic, and you just swipe your thumb or tilt your phone to steer
    • The default controls take care of drifting automatically as well, but there’s also a manual option
  • The tracks are all taken from previous games, and only run two laps instead of three
  • Then we get to the money-making part of the game
    • It seems to be using a gacha system similar to Fire Emblem Heroes, where you use in-game currency to get random drivers, karts, and gliders
    • The big problem is that, unless Nintendo changes it before release, rare drivers actually have advantages like special items or track-specific bonuses
    • There’s also a stamina system to limit how many races you can do each hour
  • Those pieces are even more controversial than usual now that Belgium has legally categorized video game loot boxes as gambling- Nintendo has announced they’ll be shutting down both Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in Belgium as of August 27th.
    • Compared to what Blizzard did with Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm last year, simply disabling paid lootboxes in Belgium but allowing users to still earn them in game, that move seems like overkill
    • Presumably that also means they won’t be seeing this game any time soon
  • The beta is planned to continue through June 4th, and we’ll see what the payment situation is like when the final release of Mario Kart Tour hits iOS and Android sometime this summer
 

Nintendo’s also released a bunch more details on the upcoming Super Mario Maker 2

  • The game will launch on June 28th, and there will be a standalone version as well as a bundle that includes a year of Nintendo Switch Online
    • The bundle will be pretty handy, since there are more than a few features locked behind an online requirement- including uploading your levels and searching/downloading other users’ creations
    • They’re apparently supporting an offline mode once you’ve downloaded levels, but there’s no word on if you’ll need to connect and run a check-in to keep them available
  • On the plus side, there are officially versus and co-op modes that have up to four players competing or teaming up to beat the objective, be it reaching the goal, picking up coins, or a certain number of 1-UPs
    • Both modes have players shoving and bouncing off eachother, so really they’re all versus
    • They also work via local network, so you can get multiple Switches going, but with a big caveat- apparently at least one system has to be online to confirm a paid NSO account.
      • This is a first for Nintendo, and it could put a damper on pick-up games really taking off in weird places like convention lineups
  • They’ve also shown off the new tools that level creators will have at their mercy, like some really granular controls on slopes, animated snake platforms, on-off switches, varying water levels, and a completely separate Super Mario 3D World palette that has so many unique pieces that it can’t be applied as a re-skin
  • There will also be a campaign mode with 100+ levels designed by Nintendo staff
  • And we’ll be seeing a lot more of this on June 8th, when Nintendo runs their invitational SMM2 competition at E3
 

After an ambitious and tumultuous go at gaming, the Ouya is officially shutting down

  • The Ouya itself was an aggressive product, originally launching on Kickstarter back in 2012
    • The idea was that it would be a completely open game console for your living room where every title was free to play, with the intention that it would offer AAA gaming without licensing or publishing fees
    • The reality was a disappointing box that arrived late and mainly ported mobile Android games to your TV
  • So the Ouya as a device was discontinued three years later in 2015 after Razer bought the founders and merged the content into their Forge microconsole ecosystem
    • So Ouya was technically still around, but mainly as a brand name and publisher for Android games. Everything was done through the Forge TV hardware
  • Now Razer is shutting down the whole works at the end of June- as of June 25 2019 you won’t be able to download any more games through the online service
    • Downloaded games may still function if they don’t have an online check-in at launch, but that will be up to developers
  • Owners of the Forge TV and MadCatz Mojo consoles that used these services should still be able to connect to Google Play, but it’ll be up to developers to migrate their games from the Ouya storefront
 

Sony’s given us a couple sneak-peeks at the next generation of Playstation, and they look solid

  • In an investor demo they show the PS5 running tech demos based on Spider-Man about 10x faster than the PS4 Pro
  • It will apparently also support resolutions up to 8K, come standard with an SSD, and will be compatible with both the existing PSVR and PS4 games

 

China’s Social Credit system is right out of Orwell’s 1984

  • Social Credit is tied to many things, like travel options
    • You can be denied flights, and forced to travel by train with a low social credit score
  • Things that lower your score
    • defaulting on a loan
    • criticizing government policy
    • too much time playing online games
  • Punishments for a low score are varied
    • setting an embarrassing ringtone to on your phone
    • you can be denied loans
    • lose job opportunities
    • limit the quality of hotel you can stay at
    • throttle your internet connection
    • ban your children from private schools
    • put you on a public black list
  • ABC Australia reports the deadbeat map
    • via China’s populat WeChat
    • People of a low score can be tracked on a radar style map
    • “Tapping on a person marked on the map reveals their personal information, including their full name, court-case number and the reason they have been labeled untrustworthy. Identity-card numbers and home addresses are also partially shown,” ABC reported.
  • In the style of Minority Report
    • People with a low enough score can be detained and put in re-education camps
    • not because of a crime they committed
    • because the have the high likelihood of committing a crime
  • Your score can be increased
    • You can report the misdeeds of others
    • Its creating a paranoid nation of informants
      • the government claims they are creating a “culture of sincerity” that will “restore social trust.”
    • reportable offences include violating their new religious restrictions
      • Christians praying illegally in their homes
      • Muslims growing beards or fasting during Ramadan
  • Human Rights Watch describes the system as chilling
    • In response the Chinese Communist Party responds
      • Westerners are simply too unsophisticated to understand the wonders of the new system
    • The China’s Global Times printed
      • “The hypothetical theories of the West are based on their ignorance.” The massive social credit system, it goes on to say, is simply “beyond the understanding of Western countries.”
  • The State has already been using other concerning techniques to watch their population
    • “Big Data” – extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.
    • Machine Learning
    • Facial Recognition
  • They have their people in a virtual prison 
    • They are selling this infrastructure to likeminded dictatorships
    • Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela, is their first customer
 

Slay the Spire launches for Switch on June 6

Here’s an overview from the listing, along with a trailer:
We fused card games and roguelikes together to make the best single player deckbuilder we could. Craft a unique deck, encounter bizarre creatures, discover relics of immense power, and Slay the Spire!
Features
  • Dynamic Deck Building: Choose your cards wisely! Discover hundreds of cards to add to your deck with each attempt at climbing the Spire. Select cards that work together to efficiently dispatch foes and reach the top.
  • An Ever-changing Spire: Whenever you embark on a journey up the Spire, the layout differs each time. Choose a risky or safe path, face different enemies, choose different cards, discover different relics, and even fight different bosses!
  • Powerful Relics to Discover: Powerful items known as relics can be found throughout the Spire. The effects of these relics can greatly enhance your deck through powerful interactions. But beware, obtaining a relic may cost you more than just gold…
  • Slay the Spire will cost $24.99 on the Switch eShop. It’ll take up 419MB of space.

 

Tidbits

  • Anyone with a Macbook that has the butterfly keyboard switches (2015 and newer) will be happy to hear that if you’re having any keyboard issues (stuck keys, multiple letters appearing with one key press, etc) you should be eligible for their free keyboard repair program
  • Health Canada has officially cleared the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch Series 4, so we could be seeing an update enabling them in the near future
    • This comes with a classification marking the watch as a Class II medical device, in a “low to medium risk” category alongside things like contact lenses
  • Psychonauts 2 backers received another production update this week, with some cool news: The first gameplay segment will be shown at E3 in Los Angeles next month!
  • Lenovo showed off a Moto Razr phone reboot with a folding display at a press event this week, but with one problem- it was a fan-made concept video downloaded and edited without permission
    • It looks like some of the watermarks were removed, with a Lenovo bumper added at the end, but you can pretty clearly see some watermarks they missed on the phone’s screens with the creator, Waqar Khan’s, Twitter handle
    • Technically Lenovo didn’t actually announce anything like it, but showing the video at a press event when they clearly don’t have anything concrete to show is pretty skeezy to say the least
 

Alan Recommends The ‘Burbs

  • It’s a comedy horror thriller from 1989 starring Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal, and a bunch of other solid actors
  • Pokes fun at suburbia and the weird people that live there, with some really smart writing that keeps you on your toes

 

Literally Misleading

Another one from 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 man must send his father to protect his mother, when his enemies target her for assassination.”
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami

 

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

 

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!

 

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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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!

 

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

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!

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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