PS2J 303 News – Screws Not Included

Security alert

  • Microsoft Security is tracking a massive campaign that installs remote access tools on your computer using malicious Excel macros, embedded in a spreadsheet purporting to show COVID-19 stats
    • The emails in question pretend to be from Johns Hopkins Center about the “WHO COVID-19 SITUATION REPORT”
    • Steps to avoid:
      • Don’t open random emails
      • Don’t open unexpected attachments
      • And most importantly, definitely don’t run Excel macros on anything you don’t know the full provenance of

Free Games

  • PS4

    • Star Wars Battlefront II

      • 2017
      • Third and first person action shooter that, as you can tell from its name, is the fourth major release in the series and seventh overall, it caught a lot of flack early on for its predatory microtransactions to the point that EA completely revamped the system to avoid gameplay advantages
      • Content based on the Star Wars movies up to and including The Rise of Skywalker
    • Call of Duty: WWII

      • 2017
      • First-person shooter following a squad in the 1st infantry division and their battles during the events of the Battle of Normandy
  • Xbox One

    • Destroy all Humans!

      • 2005
      • Action adventure game set in the 1959 United States that has you playing an alien harvesting DNA from humans to continue the cloning process of his species
      • A remake is due for release in July
    • Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

      • 2016
      • Metroidvania-style adventure platformer that has you playing the half-genie Shantae out to save Sequin Land from the Pirate Master
    • Sine Mora

      • 2012
      • 2.5D bullet hell shoot ’em up in a diesel punk inspired world filled with anthropomorphic characters
    • Coffee Talk

      • 2020
      • Visual novel that follows a barista working in a coffee shop in a fantasy version of Seattle, as they listen to the concerns of the shop’s patrons and prepare drinks
  • Epic Games

    • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection

      • 2015
      • Improved versions of Borderlands 2 and the Pre-Sequel, the popular action RPG sci-fi loot shooters with a good sense of humor, with all their DLC, enhanced local multiplayer, and the ability to transfer save data from the PS3/Xbox 360 versions
  • Twitch

    • The Last Tinker: City of Colors

      • 2014
      • Indie developer Mimimi’s take on action adventure like Jack and Daxter or Banjo-Kazooie, minus the jump button
    • Pulstar

      • 1995
      • Horizontal-scrolling shooter, similar to R-Type, that has you defeating a hostile race of aliens threatening mankind
    • Blazing Star

      • 1998
      • Shoot ’em up sequel to Pulstar with improved graphics and less challenging difficulty
    • Fighting games

      • Samurai Shodown II

        • 1994
        • One of the first games to incorporate parrying, where you can block at the last second to deflect the attack and leave your opponent vulnerable
      • The King of Fighters 2000

        • 2000
        • 7th entry in the KoF series for the NeoGeo and the last one produced by SNK before their bankruptcy
      • The King of Fighters 2002

        • 2002
        • Ninth game in the KoF series that discarded the previous titles’ 4-on-4 striker match format and returned to the 3-on-3 battles that KoF used until ’98
      • Fatal Fury Special

        • 1993
        • An updated version of Fatal Fury 2 with tweaks to the gameplay system and an expanded roster
      • Art of Fighting 2

        • 1994
        • Set as a prequel to the Fatal Fury series, it was the first fighting series to allow players to perform a “super attack”

Trump is up in arms after Twitter decided to flag some of his misinformation as false, though the rest of his bull is still coming through strong

  • With the current COVID-19 situation, Twitter has decided to make some improvements to their platform so that incorrect information gets flagged
    • So when Trump tweeted about mail-in voting, claiming that there’s no way that they’ll be anything less than substantially fraudulent, Twitter threw a link at the bottom so that readers could “Get the facts about mail-in ballots”, and directs them to articles about his unsubstantiated claim
    • Trump’s response was to claim that they’re interfering in the 2020 election, and that Twitter is now stifling free speech. Even though that really only applies to the government, and companies are not required to give you a platform to say whatever you want
    • Then the Trump administration took to Fox News to single out Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, after digging up some tweets he had posted that were critical of the current US government
      • Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway called on listeners to go after him, causing a flood of abuse, harassment, and death threats online
    • So this is the government of a world power having a tantrum against a social media website because the president posted verifiably false information online
  • Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Twitter is enforcing these policies strongly enough
    • Another of Trump’s tweets has invented a conspiracy theory accusing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murder
      • Trump basically said that the former congressman killed a staff member in 2001 even though he was 800 miles away at the time and her death was ruled an accident (she suffered a heart condition that caused her to fall and hit her head on a desk)
      • Trump then doubled down on the accusation even after her widower pleaded unsuccessfully with Twitter to take down the posts about his late wife in an open letter, saying that they’re causing her family a lot of emotional pain
        • He went on to say that the president is perverting the memory of his dead wife for perceived political gain, and if an ordinary user was throwing around these kinds of lies they would get banned from Twitter altogether
      • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s usual insistence that they’re sticking to the letter of their terms of use, commonly gamed by internet trolls and the president of the US, can’t even be used as armour in this case because they’re so solidly in the wrong- even by their own terms of use these posts should be removed and the account should be flagged if not banned altogether
    • This isn’t even new behaviour, after Trump used deluded conspiracy theories in 2016 against Ted Cruz, saying his father was involved in the JFK assassination, when going for the republican nomination in the presidential election

According to US courts, just turning on your phone’s lock screen may count as a search by law enforcement and require a warrant

  • While police can run a search without a warrant under special circumstances, if the phone is currently in police custody the device cannot be turned on even to take a screenshot of the lock screen. As soon as a physical intrusion is made, even just to press a button to wake up the screen, even though the lock screen is something somewhat publicly accessible, it counts as a intruding on a constitutionally protected area

Fans rejoice, you’re finally getting the Snyder Cut of Justice League

  • Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the film after Zack Snyder left the film’s production due to family tragedy, but he drastically changed the tone of Snyder’s unfinished version
  • Synder’s personal cut of the Justice League will be a long-form series coming to HBO Max in 2021, and is expected to cost over $30M in development and reshoots

More than half of Apple Stores worldwide have reopened now, and their precautions are pretty solid

  • Multiple staff are stationed around the store’s entrance to direct people to different lineups either for shopping, walk-in repair work, or genius bar appointments
  • They also have guards doing screening, temperature checks, handing out masks, and directing the use of hand sanitizer
  • In store they’re keeping physical distancing in effect by helping people across tables and continually cleaning things with sanitizing wipes
  • All in it was quite a good experience, and I felt like the store was really taking the pandemic seriously while still taking care of my laptop repair
    • If you have a MacBook with USB-C ports that just aren’t holding on to cords like it used to, you should definitely get it checked out. Just make sure they put the screws back in
    • Anecdotally, keep in mind that the Apple Store isn’t a free mask dispensary. I saw one argument while in line with a couple maintaining that, because they bought an iPad yesterday, they should get a free mask from Apple even though they weren’t entering the store at all

Fallout 76 Tips and Tricks from Foam Forge Cosplay

  • Some lessons I’ve learned about FO76 in the past 2 weeks for anyone looking to optimize their end game.
  • Start building early.
    • Pick what weapon kit out you want and start engineering yourself towards it.
    • An endgame respec right now can cost up to 50 levels of points. (ask me how I know.)
  • Auto Rifles are still viable but you need a good back pack.
    • You won’t be using power armor.
    • Charisma is a dump stat.
    • Get ready to abandon it down to 3 points once you hit 50.
    • It’s only useful for dialogue checks.
    • Grape mentats help with that.
    • The perk Glow Sight is a must have.
      • At max rank it gives +60% damage to glowing enemies.
  • A good 1  Legendary > Decent 3  Anything with armor piercing is a god send.
    • Enemies in FO4 and FO76 don’t get more health.
    • They stack “armor”.
    • This is Bethesda’s way of dealing with game balancing.
      • IE: it’s broken too.
    • VATS kills fusion cores so build your Power armor build to avoid Vats.
    • Getting a targeting hud makes enemies glow in the dark
      • Much easier to kill them when you can see them without having to “ping” them with VATS
      • Physical Damage Resistance > Any Other Kind.
  • Best end game armor is T-51B or the much coveted Ultracite armor for base game.
    • The Strangler Heart is better than both but you gotta run Vault 94 for that.
    • The total difference is almost negligible so if you want (Like me) the X-01 is still a solid set of armor to run around in.
  • Staggering opponents makes them useless and unable to fight you.
    • If you hit hard enough and frequently enough they sort of just stun lock.
    • Heavy guns and shotguns are great for that.
    • Best end game guns come from Wastelanders.
  • Farm lots of rep for both factions to get you one of the new Gauss weapon types.
    • Shotgun or Minigun. They melt enemies.
    • If you’re heavy weapon specced Becket just gives you a fantastic .50 CAL at the end of his quest chain.
    • No spoilers for his quests though. Enjoy them.

Tidbits

  • It looks like Apple has been re-issuing many app updates this week, with some users reporting 100+ apps flagged for updates over the course of a couple days
    • There’s no solid info on why, but this may have been the fix to a problem causing some apps to stop opening properly, showing an error saying “This app is no longer shared with you”
  • macOS 10.15.5 is out now, including new battery health management features to extend the overall lifespan of a Mac’s battery, especially when you keep a laptop plugged in all the time
    • It also brings options to turn off Facetime video resizing to show the active speaker, issues with Finder freezing during large file transfers and a bunch of other bugs
  • With the iOS 13.5 release last week Alberta’s ABTraceTogether contact tracing app is apparently getting an update to support the secure Apple/Google exposure notification API, but there’s still no solid word on when that’s happening
    • Unfortunately many can’t even use it in its current state, with some devices purchased brand-new even three years ago unable to run the version of Android it requires
      • The app requires Android 8 or newer, leaving about 2/5 of Android phones unable to download it
      • To contrast, more than 95% of all active iPhones support the minimum iOS 11 required
  • The new Unc0ver jailbreak for iPhones is now available, and can hack anything from iOS 11 to the latest 13.5 that was just released
    • Apparently this is the first time a jailbreak has worked on all devices on launch day since iOS 10, according to the security researcher who discovered the vulnerability
  • Facebook is reportedly planning to allow its staff to work from home on a permanent basis even after the current crisis is over
    • Zuckerberg is expecting about half of his workforce to take advantage of the new program, though salaries will be adjusted according to living costs in their location
    • Apparently they’ll be verifying employee home addresses by monitoring their access to company systems
  • Due to pandemic concerns, Blizzcon 2020 has officially been cancelled
    • The convention’s executive producer, Saralyn Smith, released a statement saying that they still want to connect with fans online but, because this is new-ish territory with a lot of factors involved like their esports competitions, rather than having anything this fall it will likely be sometime early next year

Alan finished Network Effect, the first full-length Murderbot Diaries novel, this week, and it was damn good

  • Martha Wells does a fantastic job of showing a future that is equal parts exciting, promising, and bleak, with a very realistic balance of utopian and dystopian worlds
  • For not being interested in being at all human, Murderbot is such a good example of our foibles and fallacies while also being basically super-human at times
  • If you liked the novellas you’ll love this book, and if you’re interested in solid sci-fi you’ll be in for a good time

 

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Thank you to Breanne, for being so kind and helpful!

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
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Free games

  • Twitch

    • Yoku’s Island Express

      • 2018
      • Side-scrolling Metroidvania platformer where you can only jump by using pinball paddles to push a ball that drags your character behind, in an open world with many bumpers, tracks, and ramps for different pinball mechanics
    • Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones

      • 2015
      • 2D puzzle platform stealth game that has you taking control of multiple clones to explore the facility in which you were born
    • Chicken Assassin: Reloaded

      • 2016
      • An RPG beat-em-up that plays like a clicker- you can upgrade your stats, weaponry, and equipment, then mash buttons to beat up the bad guys and get your girl back
    • Manual Samuel

      • 2016
      • 2D adventure sidescroller where you try to make it through a normal day performing all your bodily functions completely manually, a la QWOP
  • Epic

    • Conarium

      • 2017
      • Lovecraftian horror adventure game inspired by At The Mountains of Madness, that has you exploring an Antarctic base to discover the fate of your expedition through notes, journals, and and strange visions

Apple’s By Innovation Only event was this week, and here are some of the highlights:

  • Apple Arcade looks fairly solid and will only cost $5 a month with full family sharing. None of the games will include in-app purchases, and they’re all exclusive to Apple Arcade on mobile
    • The big standout for me was Sayonara Wild Hearts, a neon rhythm racing game with a ton of style, that’s also coming to Switch and PS4
  • Apple TV+ is also hitting for $5 a month, which makes competing services look pretty expensive by comparison, but the content is slowly coming together
    • Netflix and Amazon Prime are a fair bit more with a ton of back catalog, and Disney+ is only slightly more expensive with their huge vault of works
    • One interesting note though, every Apple device sold from now on will come with a free year of Apple TV+. Whether that means only the first time or every single purchase remains to be seen
  • There’s a new entry-level iPad model that works as an updated alternative to the fancy iPad Pro
  • The Apple Watch Series 5 will officially have an always-on display, with the screen staying dim until you raise it, and apparently the exact same battery life as current models
    • They’re also bringing in more case materials like ceramic and titanium
    • And the Series 3 seems to be the new budget model, with the Series 4 being completely replaced
  • And, of course, the iPhone
    • We’ve got three new iPhones:
      • iPhone 11, which is the updated iPhone XR, has the same liquid retina display with a ton of new guts to make it even faster than before
        • They’ve also tweaked the dual camera system on the back to use a standard and ultra-wide angle lens, instead of the old telephoto, so they can use their computational photography to work with even more information
          • It also allows them to finally have a Night Mode, which Google’s been rocking for about a year now
          • The new camera system does come with a gigantic square camera bump, which leaves many wondering why not make the whole device the same thickness and add more battery life (though they did manage to add an additional hour, which is nothing to sneeze at)
      • Then the iPhone 11 Pro, the new OLED model replacing the XS, with a very fancy super duper crazy bright and accurate fancy display ™
        • It also comes in a new color, midnight green, that feels Boba Fett-esque. Pretty slick
        • For the most part it’s got the same new fancy guts as the iPhone 11, but in addition it’s got a third lens to keep the telephoto in play with the other two.
          • Apparently it will use a feature called Deep Fusion to fuse 9 separate exposures with the combined lenses into a single image
        • It’s also got slightly faster cellular data, which is kind of whatever at this point. It gets to a point where the speed gains become less and less noticeable
        • Unfortunately this model is also killing my baby- 3D touch is dead, replaced by haptic touch
          • 3D touch was brilliant, where you could press slightly harder on the screen to do things like get shortcuts or move your cursor around with your thumb on the keyboard, but required an extra suite of sensors under the display
          • Instead all the Pro models have the same Haptic touch brought to us originally in the XR because the display just didn’t work with the tech- you just do a long press, and the haptics give you a light tap on the thumb. So it’s a glorified long press, which we’ve had pretty much the whole time anyway
        • All this comes alongside 4-5 more hours of battery life for the base and Max models, respectively, which is bonkers year-over-year improvement while adding more tech
      • This year’s iPhones also bring a new chip for ultra wideband technology, leading many to think that their Tile competitor is coming soon since that would allow for much more accurate location tracking of devices
        • One demo found inside the new iOS files has the ability to look around your room for a red balloon, then follow the string to the missing device
 

Awesome looking game that’s got about a month left on Kickstarter, called Savior.

Story
Savior is an open-world, action-adventure platformer, centered on rebuilding the divided planet of Arcadia. You’ll be empowered to save the people you discover from problems like hunger, superstition, tyranny and destruction. As you help the Arcadians regain their lives and thrive, you’ll earn experience, abilities, powerful tools and allies to aid you in your quest.
You play as Sam, a stranger with no possessions or memory.  As you explore, you’ll learn of your origin and place among the characters you encounter. Battle, evade and persuade your enemies to join you in rebuilding a broken world.
Combat
We wanted combat to feel as real and engaging as possible. To that end, every block, dodge and strike is clean and reactive. NPCs have attack patterns that you’ll learn over time, so fights are quick as you come to anticipate your opponent’s reactions.
  • Strike 6-Directions – Strike up, high (standing), low (crouched), down (when airborne), or behind you high and low. Hit targets all around you with ease.
  • Block – Auto-block most attacks with one button. Blocks will cost you ground and stamina. If you block exactly on the strike timing, you’ll instantly counter-attack.
  • Dodge – By crouching before a high strike or jumping just before a low strike you’ll open up a window of vulnerability in your opponent. Strike fast for a guaranteed hit!
  • Be Unconventional – When encountering an aggressor, you’ll have options. Douse them with water, intimidate them with staff spins or impress them with epic dance moves!
Parkour
Savior is an open-world game where you’re free to cover the same ground multiple times. So we’ve made simple travel as fun as possible. We’ve added a flurry of movement enhancements to make running and jumping more thrilling and varied.
  • Context-Sensitive Jumps – Jumps to walls, ledges, high targets, low targets, water, off cliffs etc. will get their own animations that flow together.
  • Wall Jump – Special gear will let you cling to walls and climb ravines like a spider monkey that sweats crazy glue.
  • Slide/Roll – Explore every crevice of Arcadia by learning to get small and round. Push down at a run and you’ll slide through your opponents legs!
  • Dash/Double Jump – Add a second boost to your jump or your run. Blast up or forward to reach new areas, just get around faster, or knock over foes.
Diplomacy
You can win opponents to your cause with your words and actions. They’ll remember encounters and build a positive or negative relationship with you. Over time you can convince them to abandon hostility and help you rebuild Arcadia.
  • Complete Quests –  Quest to gain favor, secrets, and powerful items. Plus you’ll change your surroundings in lasting ways that will make your way forward easier.
  • Choose Your Style – Talk people into joining your cause. Fight them until they relent. Or make their favorite meal or douse them in water. Get creative!
  • Debate – Part of your arsenal will be solid arguments. Only some will respond to a good argument right away, but you can plant seeds of doubt that grow over time.
  • Build Reputation – As you become known, NPCs will treat you differently. Get discounts at shops, help with quests and access to secret areas and equipment.
  You can back the project until October 10th, 2019. Then as Kickstarter does, they get the funds to work on it, or pledges are not taken.
  • They will release on Steam, but they have added Xbox One, PS4 and Switch as stretch goals. My speculation, is that those goals are to pay for the license for those platforms.

Tidbits

  • Facebook’s released their new dating service in the US, and as usual it had a ton of security and personal information pitfalls
    • If you really want to check it out, Lifehacker has a great breakdown of what information is visible to whom
  • Apparently the Galaxy Fold, that $2000 terrible phone tablet thing, is rolling out slowly around the world this month after an announcement on the 5th
    • Unfortunately it looks like Samsung is cancelling everyone’s preorders dating all the way back to April
    • They’re saying they’re revamping the entire purchase experience, along with the slow rollout, so everyone that did preorder gets $250 in store credit
  • Ironically, after Google went on about needing tracking cookies to prevent users being fingerprinted by things like fonts (we discussed in 269), Google-owned app Crashlytics has started installing fonts with a custom identifier embedded that any app can use to identify users
  • New legislation is coming to California forcing independent contractors in gig-worker roles to be treated as employees, and Uber is trying to say it doesn’t apply because drivers aren’t a core part of their business, which seems like a bold choice

Alan Recommends Philips Sonicare

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The Grinch Smash Bros leak has hopeful fans’ hearts shrinks 3 sizes. Apple launches new products for the holiday season. Josh recommends a spooky Syfy original, Alan has a book series that he promised is a quick read.

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