This is our second last episode of the year before we take our traditional December vacation, but we’ll be running feed drops through to the end of the year of some other great episodes from the Alberta Podcast Network. Hope you enjoy them, have a fantastic holiday season, and we’ll see you in January!

Free Games

  • Xbox

    • The Raven Remastered

      • 2018 remaster from 2014
      • Episodic point and click adventure game incorporating elements of stealth and detective work, it’s a noir mystery story that has you playing a bumbling Swiss police constable on the hunt of a notorious jewel thief
    • Bleed 2

      • 2017
      • Side-scrolling arcade action platformer featuring air-dodging, bullet-reflecting, and tons of bosses, like a 2D Bayonetta bullet-hell
    • Saints Row: Gat out of Hell

      • 2015
      • Action-adventure open world game that serves as an epilogue to Saints Row IV and is a standalone expansion, featuring the same kind of over-the-top third-person shooter action and superhuman abilities that Saints Row became known for in later entries
    • Stacking

      • 2011
      • Adventure puzzle game developed by Double Fine Productions, created during the development period of Brütal Legend, and based on the Russian stacking matryoshka dolls where you can stack and unstack into other characters to use their abilities and solve puzzles
  • PlayStation

    • Worms Rumble

      • 2020
      • A twist on the classic Worms blueprint, where instead of turn-by-turn strategic combat it’s real-time with up to 32 players in battle royale or deathmatch modes
      • Launching simultaneously on the PS4, PS5, and Steam with full crossplay and planned ongoing content updates including arenas, customizations, game modes, and more
    • Just Cause 4

      • 2018
      • Open world action adventure game where you work to take down The Black Hand, the world’s biggest private military, with your wingsuit, grappling hook, rocket boosters, and a variety of weaponry. The game uses a new version of the game engine of Just Cause 3, featuring diverse and extreme weather including blizzards, sandstorms, tornadoes, and more
    • Rocket Arena

      • 2020
      • Online third-person 3v3 shooter where each character has unique abilities and signature rockets, and when you get blasted out of the arena you fly your rocket right back in to the action. Polygon called it a blend of Quake-style combat with Smash Bros violence
    • Bugsnax (still free this month, too)

      • 2020
      • An indie adventure game where you explore a mysterious island and attempt to find and capture the titular half-bug-half-snack creatures, taking inspiration from Pokémon Snap, Ape Escape, Dark Cloud, and Viva Piñata
    • And if you’re lucky enough to get a PS5, you’ll get access to the PS Plus Collection

      • 20 great games from the PS4 era that can help you catch up if you missed out
  • Epic Games

    • MudRunner

      • 2017
      • Off-road driving sim that advertises itself as the ultimate off-road experience, putting players in the driver seat across extreme Siberian landscapes with only a map and compass as guides

Security alert: Go SMS Pro, a popular Android messaging app, exposed millions of users’ private photos and files

  • Security researchers found a flaw in the app back in August and contacted the developer with a 90-day deadline for a fix before they disclosed the issue, but after no communication back at all for the three month period they went public
  • Apparently when Go SMS Pro sends a photo, video, or other file to someone without the app, it gets uploaded to the app’s servers and lets the user share a web address, so that the recipient can see the file
  • Unfortunately the web addresses are sequential- any time a file is shared, a web address is generated that lets people browse through all the different files uploaded by other users
    • Once you know the predictable web address, you can just edit the number and view anyone else’s files
  • And this problem is pretty widespread- Go SMS Pro has more than 100M installs, according to the Google Play Store
  • TechCrunch even verified the findings, viewing a person’s phone number, a bank transfer, an order confirmation, an arrest record, and many explicit photos
  • While it’s not possible to target a specific user, an attacker could create scripts to just grab anything and everything to filter through at a later date
  • In investigating the story TechCrunch emailed two different addresses associated with the app- one bounced back due to a full inbox, and the other opened the email but did not reply
  • This definitely isn’t what you want in a messaging app, so if you’re using Go SMS Pro you might want to consider an alternative

Updates have officially been released for Spider-Man on the PS4 and PS5 to allow game-saves to be brought in to the next-gen remaster

  • You’ll need to load up your PS4 copy first and upload your save from the main menu before you can import it on the PS5, so if you don’t have access to your old copy you might need to recruit a friend to help out
  • Luckily even though I already gave away my PS4 I could still boot up my old digital copy of Spider-Man to upload my save, ahead of buying Miles Morales

6 Years ago, the Apple subreddit thought of what a Phone in 2020 would be like

  • We browsed the comments for highlights live on the show

This Day In Gaming History

November 21 – 2014 – The Amazing Frog? – Linux, Mac, Ouya

  • Amazing Frog? is a Hardcore Parkour openworld buffet of bonkers physics sandbox gameplay.
    • Welcome to the town of Swindon, UK. Home to flatulant super hero, Amazing Frog?
  • Enter Swindon where you can drive cars, buses and mobility scooters, jump on trampolines, fire yourself out of cannons, into explosions, search for trophies and Tvs and reach the heights and a whole lot more.
    • Its your Swindon do as you please.
  • Take a quiet trip to the Swindon fArt Gallery if it pleases you….
    • Feeling aggressive ? find a crossbow, machine gun or laser and shoot the hell out of each other.
    • Visit the Fart Gyms for a workout or discover the Zombie filled underground Sewers.
  • Key Features:
    • a 20Km Landscape
    • A whole bunch of vehicles
    • 4 player split screen
    • Oculus VR support.
    • Pigging backs… and pigs
    • ridiculous ragdolls, trampolines, cannons and explosions
    • Weapons like crossbows lasers and machine-guns
    • Vicious Sharks
    • Swimmming ish and Boats in the ocean
    • Fully fitted Fart Gym
    • Underground Zombie Frogs in the Sewers
    • A Giant chessboard
    • A bunch of test rooms
    • and a whole lot of mystery…

November 22 – 1996 – Command & Conquer: Red Alert – Windows, DOS

  • What if Hitler never existed?
    • Einstein pondered the question and created a time-machine to eliminate Hitler as a young man, thus preventing World War II as history remembers it. However, Einstein stopped one evil only to create another – because Stalin’s Soviet Union is now poised to conquer Europe… and Allies must stop them!
  • Josh says
    • “This was one game I played a hell of a lot of, I remember making custom maps for my Dad to try out in the skirmish mode.”
  • The German version removes Hitler from the intro and replaces all the soldiers with cyborgs.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

November 23 – 1998 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – N64

  • A game that needs no introduction, I have some trivia to talk about
    • Ocarina of Time started life in development for Nintendo’s 64DD add-on for the Nintendo 64 (which was a disk drive that was only released in Japan with little fanfare).
      • The 64DD flopped in Japan and it wasn’t even released in the USA.
      • As a result, instead of being released in disks, the game was crammed into a cartridge (which was the biggest N64 pre-Expansion Pak cartridge released, in terms of space).
      • Even though it was originally developed and planned for the 64DD, it was announced to much surprise that Zelda would release in cartridge form for the N64 first; further indicating that the disk drive platform was not gaining the traction Nintendo had hoped for.
    • Due to overwhelming fan requests, Nintendo decided to release the original production releases of the game as a gold-colored cartridge, restoring the ‘golden cartridge’ lineage that had previously been broken by the SNES version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Game Boy.
    • There are at least three different versions of the game: 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2. The golden (limited edition) carts, as well as some gray carts, are all 1.0.
      • The majority of the ordinary gray carts are 1.1, and many of the later produced ones are 1.2.
      • The only notable change between 1.0 and 1.1 is that the Fire Temple music was changed a little bit.
        • It had a chant from an Islamic prayer looped in the background which offended some members of the Islamic community.
      • 1.1 also fixed some bugs, the most famous of them being the sword-losing bug.
        • In 1.0, if the player saves the game in the end battle after losing the Master Sword, and restart the game, they don’t have the sword anymore, but they can use all items while riding Epona.
        • Also the final boss originally had red blood which was changed to green in a later version.
    • Link has always been left-handed, but it is particularly noticeable starting with this game. In the original title, this wasn’t always noticeable due to sprite-flipping techniques.
      • The reason for Link’s left-handedness is that his creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, is also left-handed.
  • The N64 version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

November 24 – 1992 – Sonic The Hedgehog 2 – Genesis

  • Widely regarded as the best classic Sonic games
    • 10 Zones, most with 2 acts, you can play alone or with a friend
    • Tail was introduced and made playable, the player can also select what combination of Sonic and Tails to play.
      • Unfortunately, I though it would be cute to have a big brother mode where the player is Tails being followed by Sonic.
  • When Sonic collects all seven Chaos Emeralds and transforms from a blue rodent into a fiery yellow powerhouse with insane speed.
    • It may be a parody of Dragon Ball, the insanely popular flagship work of manga artist Akira Toriyama.
    • The hero Goku is able to eventually transform into a “Super Saiyan”, a form in which he gains immense power along with spiky golden hair.
    • The first Super Sayin appearance was in Dragon Ball 318, Also known as DBZ 124, which was released in Shonen Jump, March 26, 1991.
  • The Mega Drive version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

November 25 – 2000 – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Dreamcast

  • This is a compilation of the arcade titles: JoJo’s Venture and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
    • This game adapts Part 4 of the series, Stardust Crusaders.
    • The game is a one-on-one fighter, similar in gameplay to most of Capcom’s other fighting games.
    • In this game, however, you can call upon your Stand to access an entirely different set of normal attacks and gain additional defense and offensive bonuses.
    • Your Stand’s power is not infinite, however – if you take enough damage, it’ll break, leaving you open to a devastating counter attack.
    • Every character’s Stand has their own special powers which can be used to your advantage.
    • Jojo’s Venture has less characters than Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has a special Challenge mode that lets you unlock playable characters when you complete it with certain characters.

November 26 – 2010 – Michael Jackson: The Experience – Wii

  • Michael Jackson: The Experience for the Wii is rhythm and dance game based on concepts previously introduced in Ubisoft’s Just Dance series.
    • Unlike most dance games, Michael Jackson: The Experience does not require the Wii Balance Board or other peripherals.
    • The game is played with a single Wii Remote which tracks the player as they try and perform the onscreen dance moves in-sync with the game.
    • The Wii version features a training mode with video guides, four player multiplayer, and a Career mode that spans Jackson’s career from the 80’s onward.
    • Each stage is inspired by the song’s music video and are created in 3D with live action dancers inserted.
  • This game released 17 months after the passing of Micheal Jackson

November 27 – 2017 – Desert Bus VR – Windows

  • Desert Bus is back and better than ever!
    • The 1998 Penn and Teller cult hit mini-game is coming to virtual reality, so you can fully immerse yourself in the thrilling eight-hour trip from Arizona to Nevada.
    • It’s almost like you’re driving the “wheel” thing!
    • Desert Bus VR can also be played in standard digital reality if you don’t own a VR headset.
  • Features
    • Put the Pedal to the Metal
      • Show everyone who rules the road as you take the wheel of a commercial passenger bus. With blistering speeds of up to 45mph and a prominent passenger side misalignment, only the hardest drivers can make it to Nevada and back!
    • Getting Towed Has Never Been More Fun
      • Experience the realistic consequences of driving off the road with a tow service that takes you back to the start in real time!
    • Play Non-Stop for Hours of Amusement
      • Enjoy the action-packed eight-hour road trip from Tuscon to Las Vegas. When you make it to Nevada, turn around and do it all again!
    • Fill the Crushing, Oppressive Silence
      • Tune in to a variety of engaging radio programs, including one featuring the dulcet tones of Penn Jillette himself. You can even turn the radio on and off!
    • Get the Authentic Bus Driving Experience
      • Learn what it’s like to be a REAL bus driver with exciting gameplay that allows you to honk the horn and open the bus door! Tap the fully-interactive air freshener for some hardcore, pine-scented* action!
      • *Purchase of air freshener required for full effect.
    • Join Your Friends on This Road Trip
      • Play with up to four friends in Desert Bus VR’s groundbreaking new multiplayer mode. Passengers can sit, wave, and even throw wads of paper at the driver!
  • Desert Bus VR was made in-part to support Desert Bus for Hope, a volunteer organization that holds the eponymous annual event to raise money for game industry charity Child’s Play.
    • Participants play Desert Bus in a telethon-style stream, with others pledging donations in exchange for incentives that can include everything from prizes to increasing the length of the Desert Bus play time.
  • Desert Bus VR does not appear in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

Tidbits

  • If you’re a Chrome user moving to one of Apple’s new M1 Macs, you’ll want to get rid of your old copy and manually download the right version
    • In a weird move they’re offering two different downloads- one that just works on Intel Macs, and another that works on both Intel and Apple processors
    • The universal installer is a larger download, but with it running much faster on the M1 chip you’ll want to make sure you grab the correct one
  • Super Mario Maker 1 will officially be removed from the Nintendo eShop on January 12, 2021, and course uploads will be disabled as of March 31st
    • Owners will be able to re-download the title after removal, and previously uploaded courses can still be played
  • If you need a little bit of email catharsis, check out hey.science/dumpster-fire where you can send an email to a literal physical dumpster fire
    • Emails to dumpsterfire@hey.com will be printed off and carried into the flames via conveyor belt on a Twitch stream running 9am to 8pm Central

 

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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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PS2J 287 News – Who Knows What We’ll Name It

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Desert Child

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

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

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

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

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

    • Carcassonne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fake Magic card

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

Tidbits

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

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