PS2J 307 News – Ransomware Quality Control

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Melbits World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • WRC 8 World Rally Championship

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

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

    • NBA 2k20

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

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

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

    • Hue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clone High is coming back!?!

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

Tidbits

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

 

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Free games

  • Sony

    • In a last-minute swap Sony changed out Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 in favour of
    • Detroit: Become Human Digital Deluxe Edition

      • 2018
      • Narrative adventure game similar in style to Heavy Rain, following three different androids in their struggles with their growing humanity, that hit some rough waters in the press with their handling of historical and thematic allegories
      • Includes Detroit: Become Human, Heavy Rain, Detroit digital art book and soundtrack, 2 dynamic themes, and 22 PSN avatars
    • Horizon Chase Turbo

      • 2018
      • Modern take on 90’s arcade racers like Out Run and Top Gear with stylized graphics and four-player local co-op
  • Twitch

    • For the King

      • 2017
      • A strategic RPG that blends tabletop and roguelike elements in a challenging turn-based single-player or co-op adventure that spans the procedurally generated realms
    • The Escapists

      • 2014
      • Top-down strategy game where you assume the role of a prisoner that must escape from 6 different prisons
    • Cultist Simulator

      • 2018
      • Card-based narrative-driven simulation game where you try to create a cult-like following in a nameless society with different elements like people, health, emotions, items, lore, and more
    • Yooka-Laylee

      • 2017
      • An open-world Banjo-Kazooie style platformer that’s colorful and fun, plus you can see us in the credits as backers!
  • Epic Games

    • Torchlight

      • 2009
      • This critically acclaimed Action-RPG dungeon crawl has you choosing from three powerful heroes to adventure the procedurally generated depths for endless treasure and glory.
 

Any Mac users of the video conferencing app Zoom have had an interesting time with security this week

  • Earlier in the week a substantial security issue came to light with Zoom that was apparently reported to them back in March- before they released an update on Tuesday, uninstalling the app the regular way wouldn’t actually remove it from your computer
    • By installing it you also installed a web server on your system that can be used to reinstall the app without your permission
    • So if you clicked on a meeting invite link, or even visited a compromised website, Zoom would launch you into a conference call with your webcam on by default. Even if you thought you’d removed it from your computer
    • If you wanted to remove the app from your computer entirely, it involved opening your Mac’s Terminal and running commands to kill the web server, then completely removing the hidden files it put on your computer, and finally removing it as you would any other app
  • Tuesday’s patch removed the web server, but Apple has now taken it one step further
    • Using their behind-the-scenes security systems built in to macOS, they’ve worked with Zoom to push out a silent update yesterday that takes care of removing the webserver regardless of what version of Zoom you have installed.
  • All said and done this was a bit of a mess, and highlights why installing applications on your computer willy-nilly isn’t the best idea
    • You can use your browser to join meetings instead of an app for most if not all of the major web conferencing providers, which is a lot less intrusive
 

Good news on the security front, it looks like Amazon has enabled 2FA for all accounts

  • You can enable it by going into your account settings under Login & Security and clicking on Two-Step Verification Settings
  • There are options for both using an app like Google Authenticator or Authy or using a phone number, though if you use an app it will still optionally ask for a phone number as a backup
    • Many security experts recommend using an app since text messages and phonecalls can be intercepted, though 99% of the population doesn’t need to worry about that
  • One thing to note is any legacy apps or devices trying to log in to your account will now need an extra step
    • When login first fails Amazon will send a one-time password to your phone that you need to then add to the end of your normal Amazon password
 

Nintendo’s announced their new Switch Lite, the Switch console that doesn’t switch

  • The changes include shrinking the console down a bit, with a 5.5″ screen instead of the original’s 6.2″, permanently attaching the controllers, adding a proper d-pad on the left, and removing the HD rumble, kickstand, and ability to connect to TV’s
    • Thanks to the smaller screen and a processor change the battery will get about 30 minutes longer life as well, depending on the game, even with it weighing a third less than the original
    • It comes in three colours: turquoise, grey, and yellow
  • Nintendo is planning on keeping both versions on the market, distinguishing the Lite as a portable-focused version of the switch while keeping the original around for its flexibility
    • They’ve promised that all Switch games capable of handheld-mode will work on the Lite, so you could play games like 1-2 Switch or Just Dance, but you’d have to pair additional controllers to it and find a way to prop it up
    • The surprising news from this though is they’re also keeping the 3DS/2DS consoles around as well, so we’re still not seeing them switch to a single-console focus
  • Apparently one idea for this device is a second Switch for a household that already owns one, to be more portable or give more options for people that want to play different games at the same time
    • While there’s no capability to transfer games and saves between devices, because Nintendo still adamantly refuses to look at Xbox Live or PSN for the last decade, they’ve said that is the eventual intention
  • Coming this September for $260 CAD ($200 USD)
 

The Chinese company Xiaomi is gearing up to launch their new phone, the CC9, and alongside it their new “Mimoji” avatars.

  • Now keep in mind, these are not to be confused with Apple’s Memoji. Xiaomi’s Mimoji are completely separate and distinct from that, despite them being almost identical-looking customizable 3D torso-less characters that you can pose and send to friends.
  • In a press release Xiaomi refute any claims that it’s a clone, saying that they’ve conducted internal audits and found no evidence of plagarism
    • This is of course after their Mi 8 phone last year that was nearly identical to the iPhone X, and the Airpods clone they release earlier this year
    • Unfortunately someone should have told their marketing team that, since apparently the product page for the Xiaomi CC9 showcased Apple Music Memoji ads
      • The ads were also seen on multiple e-commerce websites alongside Xiaomi’s official Mimoji graphics
      • According to their public relations general manager, staff “uploaded the wrong content” to the websites, though if they had those Apple videos so readily available and easily mistaken I’m curious what exactly their internal audit was looking for

 

YouTube is starting to fix the copyright claiming system

 
In a series of Tweets:
Lots to come w/ copyright – today we’re starting w/ a few changes: : Manual claims now require timestamps showing exactly what is claimed : Improved editing tools will easily remove manually claimed content & automatically release claims
 
More about timestamps : They’ll help you know why you got a manual claim and what part of your video to edit if you choose to make changes. Copyright owners who repeatedly fail to provide accurate data for timestamps will have their access to manual claiming revoked.
 
Updates to our editing tools for manual claims will help you:  Mute the timestamped segment of your video  Replace claimed audio w/ a song from our Audio Library  Trim out a timestamped segment altogether
 
There are more changes to come than we can count on one  for copyright – this is just the beginning! We’ll continue to share updates as our teams work to make things better for you.
 
 
 

Congrats to Cooooouk

James Downing on getting his LOZ Link to the Past 1000% Official shirt on an official Nintendo Stream
 
 

Tidbits

  • Apple has temporarily disabled the Walkie-Talkie app for Apple Watch due to an eavesdropping bug
    • According to their statement they were just made aware of the issue this week and while there are specific conditions and events that need to happen to exploit it, and they’re not aware of it being used against a customer, they’ve disabled the app until a fix can be deployed
  • In a surprise move, The Walking Dead issue #193 is apparently the final comic in the series
    • In order to disguise the end the duo behind the series, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, arranged with Image Comics to advertise three more issues to retailers
  • For $10, you can turn your copy of Starcraft Remastered into a Newgrounds Flash game
    • All the graphics were created by the YouTube channel Carbot Animations, and look goofy in the best ways
    • The official mod is available to buy from Blizzard and has been tested at an official tournament in South Korea
 

Alan recommends Hey Riddle Riddle

  • It’s a riddle podcast with fantastic energy hosted by three great improvisers: Adal Rifai, Erin Keif, and JPC
  • The riddles are fun, the weird improv scenes are hilarious, and if you’re at all decent at riddles it’s a nice ego boost to solve them before the hosts do

 

Literally Misleading

Family member Scott, adds another great one. 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 – Lost in a foreign land, our protagonist must learn to communicate with the locals to help him stay out trouble, and find a way home.
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami
 

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