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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Free games

  • Twitch

    • Serial Cleaner

      • 2017
      • A Hotline Miami style top-down stealth game that has you sneaking through crimescenes to clean and hide the evidence before the authorities can put your bosses away for good
    • Deadlight: Director’s Cut

      • 2016 rerelease of the 2012 title
      • Sidescrolling cinematic platforming survival horror game that has you attempting to traverse a zombie-infested Seattle to rejoin your family
    • Stranger Things 3: The Game

      • 2019
      • A 16-bit beat ’em up based on the third season of Stranger Things with local co-op
    • The Walking Dead: Michonne

      • 2016
      • A spin-off Telltale Games title that explores what Michonne was up to during a temporary departure from the main group
    • Adam Wolfe

      • 2016
      • Acting as Adam Wolfe, an investigator of the paranormal, you will discover a hidden world under the modern San Francisco. In this city, ghosts, artifacts, secret orders and curses are just some of the things that Adam will come across working on his most important case.
  • Epic Games

    • Minit

      • 2018
      • Minit is an adventure played sixty seconds at a time. Journey outside the comfort of your home to help unusual folk, uncover countless secrets, and overcome dangerous foes, all in hopes of lifting a rather unfortunate curse that ends each day after just one minute.

The saga of iOS 13 continues, and it’s a messy one

  • Just to get it out of the way, if you’re already on iOS 13 then you’ve got nothing to lose at this point- the fixes will help. If you’re still on 12, then I’d hold off if I were you
  • Apple has already released iOS 13.1.2 this week, following last week’s 13.1 and 13.1.1 and the week before’s initial iOS 13 release
  • Apple’s really sat themselves on the bleeding edge with these updates, and it has me concerned about their software for the future- we’ve gone from the days when I wanted to run the latest betas to today when I regret installing the new OS even some time after it’s come out
    • The new features are neat, sure, but when your patch notes include things like “Fixes an issue where Camera may not work” or “Addresses an issue where Bluetooth may disconnect on certain vehicles”, fairly core functions, I start wondering why these weren’t caught during the beta.
  • We’re four releases in to iOS 13 there are even still issues with syncing in the Notes and Reminders apps that may or may not be related to app upgrades requiring the new macOS (Catalina) that isn’t even out yet
    • The new versions of these apps that came with iOS 13 last month aren’t compatible with earlier versions of iOS or macOS, so if you’re running a mixed environment you’re probably noticing inconsistent/missing/lost data
  • I mean, kudos to Apple for fixing things as quickly as they can, but we’re at the point where iOS 13 should have just been delayed a month and maybe just come out with Catalina in the first place

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is here, and it’s… pretty much what we expected

  • $2000 gets you an interesting concept device with some limited usefulness
  • The device comes with a whole sheaf of paperwork on how to use and care for it without breaking it
    • Basically they warn to use a light touch, avoid water and dust, avoid excessive pressure, and keep it away from things that are sensitive to magnets
  • All in all it’s big, heavy, and has a non-standard screen size regardless of how you use it. It’s kinda novel but doesn’t seem worth it when a screen replacement, on their warranty program, costs $150
    • TechCrunch has already broken theirs accidentally by pressing on the display to close it

Speaking of dual screens, Microsoft has some interesting new hardware coming down the pipe

  • First up are their new Surface Neo and Duo- book-style folding devices with two screens (instead of the Fold’s single folding screen)
    • The Neo is tablet sized, runs Windows 10X (a custom version of Windows 10 made for dual displays), and has an optional bluetooth keyboard that magnets on
    • The Duo is their phone version that runs a heavily-skinned version of Android, so who knows when updates will come
    • Both of these are expected late 2020 though, so we haven’t even seen prototypes yet
  • Other than that they’ve overhauled their Surface lineup to compete more with the iPad Pro, and later this year their Airpods competitor the Surface Earbuds will launch
    • The big selling feature of these is the large round art-deco touchpad attached to your ears, which is definitely a style choice and totally doesn’t look like a couple of Apple Watch chargers stuck to the sides of your head

On the topic of Airpods, it looks like the next model has leaked via icons found in the upcoming iOS 13.2 beta

  • We don’t have much detail yet, but they seem to be more focused on noise-isolation and adjusting the classic earpod/airpod fit, which has a lot of people whose ears weren’t compatible taking note

A security researcher has released a full bootrom exploit for all iPhones from the 4S to the X, along with several iPad models and a few generations of the iPod Touch

  • This will pave the way for a permanent, un-patchable jailbreak for all the devices involved- the bootrom is read-only, so Apple can’t fix it with an update
  • On the plus side, this can only be exploited by physically connecting to your device while in recovery mode, so general users should be safe while people that want their jailbreak tweaks can jump through the needed hoops to get that set up

Minecraft Updates!

Character Creator is coming to all Bedrock platforms.

  • Xbox One
  • Windows 10
  • Nintendo Switch
  • iOS
  • Android
And there is a free cape right now called the founders cape. Looks like pumpkin, or like orange flame, with a creeper face on it.

Nether is Getting Biomes!

With descriptions from the Minecraft blog!
Despite the dangers of these new Nether biomes, we do want this update to make the Nether more accessible (albeit still a dangerous place to live!). You’ll be able to build a base there, respawn there, and even find food!
  • Soulsand Valley
    • What could be more welcoming than a new biome full of blue fog and blue flames (courtesy of the new blue fire block!), and ominous gigantic fossils everywhere? Don’t answer that, just get hyped for this barren wasteland that can’t wait for you to risk a visit…
  • Netherwart Forest Red
    • A dense forest, with swirling particles and dense atmosphere, deliberately designed by our meanest level designers to make you get lost. Mwahahaha!
  • Netherwart Forest Blue
    • Well, less another biome, more a variation on Netherwart Forest Red (oh great – I only just managed to escape from that) but with its own unique atmosphere, and its own unique blocks! For example, watch your step for that twisty new Nether Fungi covering the ground…

New Nether Mobs!

  • Piglin Beast
    • What’s a new biome without a new mob to cause chaos within it? Meet the Piglin Beast, the tusked little terror that’s Minecraft’s newest hostile mob! It can be bred as a source of food in the Nether (and let’s face it, you’re not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to lunch options in the Nether, are you?).
  • Piglins
    • Speaking of names, we’ve renamed the Zombie Pigmen to Zombified Piglins, and we’re introducing a new hostile mob to Minecraft… the Piglins! Piglins live in the Nether, and are hostile to you and most other mobs. You’ll also find small fortifications they’ve built in the Nether, called bastions.
    • Just like the person writing this post, Piglins are constantly on the hunt for gold, which is something you can use to your advantage. Wear gold armour and the Piglins will ignore you… unless you start rifling through their chests. Then prepare for a Piglin battle! Want to be more of a Piglin pacifist? It’ll be possible to trade with Piglins, but don’t expect the same experience as trading with villagers. This will be known as bartering and it’ll be far less friendly!

New Block!

  • TARGET BLOCK
    • Not completely related to the theme of the new update, but a brand new block designed for redstone enthusiasts! Shoot the block with an arrow, and it’ll emit a redstone signal. The closer your arrow to the bullseye on the Target Block, the stronger the emitted signal. We can’t wait to see what redstone contraptions you make with this one!

Tidbits

  • The future is here, and after last year’s Fortnite crossplay beta Sony has officially opened up cross-platform play for all developers
    • Now we just need proper cross-platform cloud saves and we’ll really be cooking with gas
  • Spotify is finally getting Siri integration, if their beta app is any indication
    • There’s no timeframe for release, but considering this was one of the tentpoles of their anticompetitive complaint against Apple earlier this year it’s a little amusing to see them figuring it out themselves
  • Facebook is cementing just what an evil company they are even more this week, by removing their rules against running ads with false and misleading content to allow Trump to lie in campaign ads
    • They now only prohibit claims debunked by third-party fact checkers, but political figures are apparently exempt from even that narrow restriction

Alan recommends OrangeTheory Fitness

Literally Misleading

Last week:
Movie – A man led astray by his employer takes out his frustration on his family. (Christmas Vacation)
This week:
Movie – A typical cowboy saves the princess tale.

 

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