PS2J 320 News – Gritty Humans and Pretty Anime Folk

Free games

  • Xbox Gold

    • The Book of Unwritten Tales 2

      • 2015
      • A comedy point and click adventure game that has you switching between four different protagonists that has you working against a magical force that’s turning beasts into puppies and castles into dollhouses
    • Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut

      • 2016
      • A killer puzzle game where you control Skullface, a psycho slasher bent on slaughtering camp counselors at the title campground. Slide an adorable voxel murderer around hundreds of isometric puzzle levels to squash, flay, and decapitate hapless victims in this darkly comic homage to 80s horror.
    • Sphinx & the Cursed Mummy

      • 2003
      • Third person action adventure game inspired by the mythology of ancient Egypt where you play both the demi-god Sphinx and the undead mummy Tutankhamen in a combination of combat and puzzle-solving
  • Ps plus

    • Need for Speed: Payback

      • 2017
      • Racing game set in an open-world fictional version of Las Vegas, focused on action driving with three different playable characters working together to pull of action movie like sequences and heists
    • Vampyr

      • 2018
      • Action RPG set in Spanish Flu era London where you play Jonathan Reid, a doctor turned vampire torn between the Hippocratic Oath and his newfound bloodthirsty nature
  • Twitch

    • SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell

      • 2016
      • A first-person speedrunning parkour game that plays like a combination Quake 3 and Super Meat Boy with a focus on quick action and reflexes
    • Dead Age

      • 2016
      • A zombie apocalypse RPG with turn-based combat and permadeath that has you managing survivors, crafting materials, and making tough choices to defend your camp against the undead
    • Surf World Series

      • 2017
      • A single or multiplayer surfing trick game that looks like Tony Hawk on the water
    • Layers of Fear

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

      • 2019
      • First-person horror game with a focus on story and exploration, where you search for clues in an abandoned manor to unravel the truth about the terrible events that occurred
    • Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl

      • 2020
      • Retro 8-bit sidescrolling brawler that has Jay and Silent Bob battling their way out of the mall and back to the Quickstop
    • Darkside Detective

      • 2017
      • Point and click mystery game that has you solving the dangerous and confusing cases of Twin Lakes, with everything from flesh-hungry tentacles to mafioso zombies in the mix
  • Epic Games

    • Pikuniku

      • 2019
      • Puzzle adventure game that has you getting through levels and solving puzzles by kicking and pushing objects, swinging from your legs, or curling up and rolling around. The game is focused on single player but also has local co-op specific levels

Epic Games vs Apple updates

  • During a hearing this week with both companies, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers criticized Epic’s decision to breach their contract with Apple in the first place by offering their custom payment system in an attempt to avoid App Store fees
    • Apparently Epic claimed that it didn’t pose a security threat to Apple because they’re a well-established company and partner
    • Judge Gonzalez Rogers reportedly told Epic “You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!” and “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.”
    • She was also not particularly persuaded by Epic’s arguments that Apple was violating antitrust law, or that they harmed Epic’s ability to distribute Fortnite through the App Store
      • “Walled gardens have existed for decades,” said the judge. “Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do.”
      • “The 30% of what you complain seems to be the industry rate, right? Steam charges 30%. Microsoft: 30% … If you go to consoles: PlayStation, Xbox Nintendo all charged 30%. Physical stores: GameStop, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart all charge 30%. Apple and Google charged 30%. It’s all 30%, and you just want to gloss over it. You don’t want to address it,”
      • Epic’s Bornstein says alternatives to the smartphone have their own constraints. “For example you can’t play an Xbox when you are, you know, on a bus.”
      • YGR: “You can’t play, but you can play on a Switch.”
  • We’re still waiting for a decision on whether Fortnite will be allowed back on the App Store temporarily, but Judge Gonzalez Rogers did recommend that the case be taken to a jury trial in July to settle the issues permanently

iOS security recommendations

  • Settings > Passwords > Security Recommendations
  • Breaks down all your saved passwords that may need to be changed based on priority, and includes info on whether they’re easily guessed, reused, or if they’ve been included in a previous data breach
  • It also gives you a link right to the affected site if you want to go ahead and change the password
  • Thanks to that I’ve tightened up my password security on a lot of different sites
  • One thing to note here is that the current conspiracy theory going around on Facebook, saying that iOS 14 widgets are acting as key loggers and stealing passwords, is completely false
    • Apparently part of the fuel for this is that people are getting notifications after upgrading that their passwords were involved in a breach- this is just because the notifications are new. The breaches are old.

Google announced a bunch of new stuff this week at their hardware event, including a new streaming service client

  • Not a streaming service itself, but Google TV is a client for Chromecast that shows content from services like Netflix and Disney+, alongside Google Play and YouTube videos
  • They also announced
    • a new standalone Chromecast model that comes with a remote control for $50USD, so you can use Google TV without streaming content from your phone
      • Unfortunately Stadia was left out in the cold here- you can get it going with a bit of fiddling, but there’s no native support
    • a 5G enabled Pixel 5 with somewhat underwhelming specs but a 90hz screen and IPX8 waterproofing that will set you back $700USD
    • another 5G phone, the Pixel 4A 5G, that’s basically an upgraded Pixel 4A XL and working as a budget version of the Pixel 5 without the fancy display and waterproofing and a $500USD pricetag
    • and a new Nest Audio speaker that we don’t have a lot of details on yet, but looks like a Google Home and a Google Home Max had a child and is apparently 75% louder than the Google Home it’s replacing

The new Spider-Man: Miles Morales game for the PS5 exists in a weird spot for a sequel, working almost like reverse DLC

  • You can get the game on the PS5, and if you want to play the remastered version of the PS4 Spider-Man you can either get the Miles Morales Ultimate Edition or buy the remaster from within the Miles Morales game
  • It’s apparently a full next-gen remaster with overhauled environments, ray-traced reflections and shadows, new skies and weather, a brand new face model for Peter Parker, 3D audio, instant loading, and a more powerful photo mode
  • Unfortunately all of this comes at a price- the trophy list will be separate from the original PS4 release, so trophy hunters are stuck starting from scratch

This Day in Gaming History

September 26 – 1995 – Command & Conquer – DOS

  • Command & Conquer develops ideas from Westwood’s previous game Dune 2, forming a real-time strategy (RTS) game.
    • The control system involves selecting units with the mouse and then directing them, while the opponents make their moves without waiting for a “turn” to end.
  • The game focuses on a war between two organizations, The Brotherhood of Nod and the Global Defense Initiative.
    • The player can take control of either side for more than 15 missions. Both have different units and structures, including artillery, tanks and light infantry.
  • In most missions, a base needs to be built first in order to build new units and structures.
    • Most important are the harvesters, which collect Tiberium and deliver it to a refinery, where it’s converted into money, thus funding the construction of a base and an army.
  • The game also features FMV mission briefings and victory cutscenes.

September 27 – 2004 – Dream Works’ Shark Tale – GameCube, PS2, Xbox

  • Shark Tale is inspired by the movie of the same name and follows the adventures of Oscar, a blue-streaked cleaner wrasse fish.
    • Oscar seems to have got himself into a bit of trouble as he needs to earn money to pay off a loan shark.
  • The game consists of over 25 chapters with each chapter having three missions to perform.
    • The three missions are broken into a regular one, a bonus one, and an elite one.
    • Completing missions earn Oscar fame points which affect his fame rating.
    • Also, depending on how well Oscar performs missions will determine how much money he earns to pay off his debt.
    • Missions are varied including things like escaping a shark, erasing graffiti, and a dancing segment.

September 28 – 1995 – Mario Clash – Virtual Boy – Japan

  • This game is essentially a single-player sequel to Mario Bros.
    • While the Super Mario Advance games would later contain a graphically-enhanced version of Mario Bros., Mario Clash contains many more additions and changes to gameplay.
  • As before, the goal is to clear a screen of enemies and move on to the next level.
    • However, rather than doing this by flipping an enemy upside-down from underneath and kicking them away, you throw shells at them.
    • Also, taking advantage of Virtual Boy’s added depth, there is a front area and a back area which can be traveled to and from using pipes.
    • Shells can also be thrown at enemies on the other depth area.

September 29 – 1996 – Super Mario 64 – N64 – North America

  • Mario is invited to Peach’s castle, but when he arrives Peach is nowhere to be seen.
    • He soon learns from Toad that Bowser has once again kidnapped her.
    • The Koopa King has also put a spell on her castle, imprisoning her subjects.
    • So it is up to Mario to break the spell and rescue Peach.
  • Super Mario 64 is the first Mario game done entirely with 3D graphics.
    • The core gameplay is similar to previous platform installments, focusing on jumping, avoiding obstacles and defeating enemies.
    • Levels can be explored without time limits.
    • Stars must be collected in order to unlock new areas, eventually gaining access to various parts of Bowser’s castle.
    • Defeating Bowser on each floor procures keys necessary to unlock big doors and enter other floors, which contain more areas.
  • Mario has more moves at his disposal in this installment.
    • Besides running and jumping, he can now walk, crouch, crawl, climb, and punch enemies.
    • Double and triple jumps, long jumps, wall jumps and backflips can be executed as well.
    • Swimming underwater now depletes Mario’s oxygen level.
    • Items must be picked up and carried in some instances in order to solve puzzles.
  • Power-ups include the Wing Cap, which allows Mario to fly; the Metal Cap, which protects him from damage (including environmental hazards such as poisonous gas); and the Vanish Cap, which makes Mario ethereal, allowing him to walk through certain obstacles (such as wire mesh). Mario can also enter cannons and be shot from them; combining this with the flying ability grants access to high areas.

September 30 – 1997 – Postal – Windows/Mac

  • You’ve just gone off the deep end, and in your deeply demented mind, you’ve decided that this little peaceful town no longer needs peace and quiet.
    • You gather your arsenal as you plan your next move…
  • Postal is best described as a three-quarter view isometric shooter with a disturbing theme.
    • Instead of shooting at demons, monsters, bad guys and terrorists, your targets are typical citizens like a high school marching band, ordinary pedestrians, and even Santa Claus!
    • You are provided with an arsenal of diverse weapons to choose from, ranging from good old fashioned guns to flame throwers.

October 1 – 2015 – The Beginner’s Guide – Windows, Mac, Linux

  • Probably a first, The Beginner’s Guide is presented as a guided tour through the work of another developer, named Coda.
    • This developer is real and created numerous experimental small games using the Source engine from 2008 to 2011, the year in which he stopped developing games altogether.
  • The player is guided through this list of small games by the voice of Davey Wreden, the actual director of the game and co-designer and co-writer of The Stanley Parable.
    • Similar to that game, The Beginner’s Guide can be considered a game about game design and about how players interact with games and, in a way, communicate with game developers.

October 2 – 1997 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – PlayStation – North America

  • Symphony of the Night is a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood.
    • Unlike the previous installments of the series, the game is set in a castle which the player can explore freely with many different paths, although often items in certain areas need to be found that will allow passage to others.
    • The action-based gameplay incorporates now strong RPG elements.
    • The hero receives experience points for defeating enemies, gains levels and becomes more powerful.
    • There is also money to be found in the game, and various accessories to buy. In a separate screen, players need to equip attack weapons, shields and other items.
    • Magic plays an important role, as well as secondary weapons and a large amount of “special moves” that are executed similar to advanced one-on-one fighting games.

Tidbits

  • After 11 years in operation, FarmVille is officially shutting down at the end of the year
    • The developer cited the end of support for Adobe Flash and an unwillingness to migrate to a new platform as the main causes
  • Los Angeles Comic-Con is moving forward with an in-person event in December, making it one of the first Southern California festivals to do so since the March shutdown
    • Precautions they’ll be taking include doubling their floorspace, spreading out activities across their own halls, splitting each day into five-hour sessions with deep cleaning between, cutting ticket sales, and live-streaming all guests and main panels for an optional virtual experience
    • It sounds like they’re trying, but I’d still be really hesitant to buy tickets
  • Apple and Microsoft are working together a bit more than usual now, with the Apple TV app soon becoming available on the Xbox
    • Content will include Apple TV+ subscriptions, which could save some money for people that have been eyeing up an Apple TV 4k box
    • This could also be a good sign for Game Pass, if the two companies can improve their collaboration and get eachother’s streaming services on their hardware
  • As part of Amazon’s announcements last week that flew under the radar, they also introduced a drone camera for inside your home
    • The Always Home Cam will set you back $250 and is a fully autonomous drone that can fly around and show your any room in your house
  • CD Projekt Red is drawing fire this week after doubling back on their commitment to avoiding mandatory crunch time for Cyberpunk 2077
    • Studio Head Adam Badowski released a statement lamenting this decision and how necessary it is, and promising 10% of the company’s 2020 profit to the team, but this will likely make people think twice before taking him at his word again
  • Star Wars Squadrons has launched to a lot of praise, especially for its multiplayer, including the fact that a day-one patch has implemented full support for flight stick, throttle, and pedal assemblies. Combined with VR, the immersion sounds awesome

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Thank you for your continued support Karen, we may not be podcasting today without your drive to make a podcasting community in Alberta. Listen to her and her daughter on Thats A Thing?!

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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.
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We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!

PS2J 275 News – Bushel of Apple

Security alert

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

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Surviving Mars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The LEGO Group is putting old bricks to use

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

Josh wants to get into Streaming

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

Tidbits

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

Recommend The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad from 1949

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

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

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

This Week:

Game – Sadistic architect values efficiency over safety.

 

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