PS2J 328 News – Year in Review

This is our 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

  • Twitch

    • Battlefield 3 (on Origin)

      • 2011
      • First person military shooter set during the fictional War of 2014, taking place in the Iran-Iraq region, with missions framed as flashbacks during your interrogation
    • HyperDot

      • 2020
      • Minimalist action arcade bullet hell with one rule- dodge everything
    • The Spectrum Retreat

      • 2018
      • First person narrative driven puzzle game set in the near future that has you exploring the peaceful yet unsettling Penrose Hotel, trying to unearth the truth
    • Wizard of Legend

      • 2018
      • Indie top down 2D roguelike where players take control of a wizard travelling a procedurally generated dungeon, killing monsters and collecting spells to become the Wizard of Legend
    • Lost Horizon

      • 2010
      • Historical point and click adventure game in 1936 where you have to travel the world protecting powerful relics while staying one step ahead of the Third Reich
    • Sigma Theory: Global Cold War

      • 2019
      • Turn-based strategy game in a futuristic cold war where you have to run an intelligence agency to secure control of the singularity
    • Turmoil

      • 2016
      • Indie strategy and management sim inspired by the 19th century oil rush, that has you drilling for oil to become North America’s next big entrepreneur
    • Close to the Sun

      • 2019
      • First person horror adventure game set in an alternate 1897 that has the journalist Rose Archer setting out to save her sister
  • Epic Games

    • Cave Story+

      • The enhanced 2011 release of the 2004 title
      • Metroidvania style game that has you playing Quote, a robot who has suffered amnesia and must blast his way through cavernous areas to find his backstory. Often considered the quintessential indie game because of its one-man dev team and influence on gaming

2020 year in review

  • 290 free games across PC, Xbox, and Playstation platforms
    • Some highlights I’ve personally enjoyed are:
      • Gato Roboto (Xbox) – Streamlined Metroid-style game where you play a cat in an armoured mech trying to save your stranded captain and his crashed ship
      • Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation) – Gorgeous remake of the action adventure game that has you taking down a series of monolithic enemies
      • A Short Hike (PC) – One part Animal Crossing and one part Breath of the Wild, it’s a small exploration game that has you exploring an island and (eventually) climbing a mountain
      • The Stanley Parable (PC) – An exploration game with many endings, that starts with you exploring an office building and going along with the narrator, then can get pretty surreal
      • Hollow Knight (PlayStation) – Metroidvania by way of Soulsborne, with tight controls and a nice art style
  • January

    • Quibi was introduced at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, but unfortunately its dynamic portrait/landscape video player couldn’t keep it afloat among so many other streaming services and it was shut down in October
    • The Xbox Series X was unveiled, the PS5’s logo was shown off, and the FBI kept trying to convince the world that encryption is bad because the only way to stop a bad guy with a lock is a (hopefully) good guy with omniscient, unblinking access to everyone’s data
    • CD Projekt Red pushed back Cyberpunk 2077 for the first time, saying it’s done but just needs more polish
      • Despite that and even though they went ahead with crunch time development, it was delayed two more times but should hopefully be here in another week
  • Feburary

    • Simon Weckert managed to simulate a traffic jam in Google Maps by carting a wagon with 99 smartphones around, causing vehicles using the service to avoid his route
    • E-cigarette maker Juul was sued for predatory advertising, including ads on sites like Cartoon Network and Nick Jr
    • Bioware announced that they would halt Anthem’s seasonal updates in favour of an overhaul, and if they pull it off we could see another No Man’s Sky style rebirth
    • Sonic the Hedgehog achieved the biggest opening weekend of any video game movie at $57M in the US, dethroning Detective Pikachu’s $54M
  • March

    • Apple settled with the US class action lawsuit regarding performance throttling on devices with older batteries
    • A Nintendo PlayStation prototype, the planned CD system for the Super Nintendo, sold at auction for $380,000
    • allthestreams.fm launched in a weird experiment, playing content from the six major streaming services but not letting you choose what each of them played
      • The site is still up, but all the streams have been replaced with the old VHS FBI warning
  • April

    • Zoom’s video conferencing app had a lot of shady practices come to light, including Facebook data harvesting, bypassing normal installation procedures on Mac, not properly encrypting chats, and exposing thousands of videos online thanks to easily-predicted file names
    • The Internet Archive shifted its online Open Library to allow two-week book checkouts of any ebooks, regardless of how many copies were purchased by the library or how many are checked out
    • Sony’s DualSense controllers were first unveiled, and it turns out the haptics and triggers are even nicer to use than we were expecting
    • Apple and Google first announced their joint exposure notification effort to make reliable, meaningful contact tracing easier for the COVID-19 pandemic. This has seen decent adoption, but some jurisdictions are still adamant on using their own home-rolled solutions regardless of efficacy or efficiency
  • May

    • We started to see spam and phishing attacks related to fake COVID exposure notifications, cementing why it’s important to have this kind of thing standardized
    • Wink, a smart home hub manufacturer went from a buy-once system to a subscription model requiring $5/month or your smart home would no longer work with less than a month’s notice
      • Based on the winkhub subreddit, this marked the beginning of the end and had many users migrate to alternatives that don’t rely on the cloud
    • Reports found a new piece of keylogging malware used by law enforcement to trick people into revealing their phone passcode, hidden behind nondisclosure agreements and protective orders
    • Conspiracy theorists began attacking 5G cell phone towers under the impression that the new frequency was somehow causing the coronavirus outbreak
  • June

    • George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who spent almost nine minutes kneeling on Floyd’s neck asphyxiating him while Floyd did not resist, sparking protests and reigniting the Black Lives Matter movement
      • We can’t forget how law enforcement evolved from oppressive practices in white societies, be it union busting, slave catching, or the relocation and elimination of indigenous people, and we need to do better
      • The tech world tried to show respect by delaying events, posting supportive messages, making donations, and even shutting down online services during the memorial
      • There has also been a push to include underrepresented and marginalized people in corporate leadership, with the SEC considering regulations forcing diversity
      • And Juneteenth has become a more widely recognized holiday milestone in the US, celebrating the federal order declaring that all slaves were to be set free and marking a true independence day for the country
    • Star Citizen became the most expensive game in history, reaching $350M invested and still no release date in sight
    • And we got our first taste of Apple’s new processors, which have since proven to be a radical jump in computing
  • July

    • A reboot of the cult classic series Clone High was announced, but we still have yet to hear many details about what it will look like
    • Nintendo’s president officially apologized for the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issues
    • Apple’s iOS 14 beta began highlighting just how common it was for apps to access your phone’s copy/pasted data without permission, or even use your camera and microphone when you’re not expecting it, leading to many updates and “fixes”
    • High profile Twitter accounts were hacked as part of a bitcoin scam, including Barack Obama, Elon Musk, and Apple
  • August

    • Trump first announced his planned TikTok ban / forced sale, citing security concerns, which has been pretty messy with the US and Chinese governments trying to affect who it’s sold to and if the sale will even go through
      • The original deadline was September 15th, but there’s still no end in sight
    • Epic threw down the gauntlet, violating Apple’s App Store guidelines with the iOS version of Fortnite in a seemingly calculated move to look like the little guys getting smacked down but really it looks like they just got greedy and wanted to stop paying the industry-standard 30% on in-app purchases
      • Their lawsuit against Apple for removing the game from the App Store is slated to move forward in the Spring, but with Apple recently announcing that developers making <$1M a year only need to pay 15% their case doesn’t look good
    • Republicans in the US tried yet again to pass laws against proper digital encryption, trying to make the case for adding backdoors that magically only good guys can use
  • September

    • Microsoft and Sony released all the details on their new consoles, with Xbox All Access looking like a solid choice for a good console with no money down, and the PS5 Digital Edition competing with the Series S on Price but the Series X on performance
    • Apple announced that they were delaying the cross app tracking prevention features originally slated to be part of iOS 14, much to the relief of advertising companies like Facebook and Google, but we should be seeing them early next year
    • Facebook announced the Oculus Quest 2, a very, very shiny piece of hardware luring many into the clutches of the social network
      • There’s a reason it’s the cheapest VR out there
    • Microsoft purchased ZeniMax Media for $7.5B, one of the largest purchases in gaming history, and brought a whole slew of IP under their control, including everything from id and Bethesda
  • October

    • Google announced a new standalone ChromeCast model that doesn’t need your phone to control it, but were suspiciously silent about Stadia support
    • The quintessential Facebook game, FarmVille, announced that they would be shutting down at the end of 2020
    • LA Comic Con announced that they would be hosting their full in-person event in December, but then two weeks later completely cancelled any events for 2020
    • The UK started closing the loophole in their distracted driving laws that allowed people to play mobile games or record video while driving
    • NASA announced plans to install a 4G cellular network on the Moon
  • November

    • Cloud gaming on the Switch came to North America, with triple-A titles Control and Hitman 3 announced for the console through a <100MB download
    • Google revamped their Google Pay app, highlighting peer-to-peer payments, and including a bunch of data-scraping features if you want it to show nearby deals and discounts
    • The UK set up a ban on misleading mobile game ads, like those pull-the-pin ones that don’t actually show the real gameplay of the app
And hey.com gave us all the ability to email a literal dumpster fire

A comment on YouTube summed up what happened since Cyberpunks announcement

  • Cyberpunk 2077 – Teaser Trailer
    • 10 Jan 2013
  • Fiii Rahman 3 weeks ago (edited)
  • Things that have happened since Cyberpunk was announced:
    • 2 Resident Evil Remakes
    • 2 The Last of Us
    • 2 Rockstar open world games
    • 2 Dark Souls
    • 3 Gears of War
    • 11 Call of Duty’s
    • 9 Assassins Creeds
    • 2 God of wars
    • 3 Miyazaki games
    • 2 Uncharteds
    • 2 Devil May Crys
    • 3 Watch Dogs
    • 2 games and 1 Kojima demo
    • 2 Nomura games
    • 1 The Last Guardian
    • Announcement that Final Fantasy Versus 13 became FFXV and launch
    • Baldurs Gate 3 launched
    • Diablo 4 has been announced
    • Kingdoms hearts and a prologue
    • Announcement and launch of Shenmue 3
    • Announcement and launch of FF VII Remake
    • 2 Fallouts
    • 4 Battlefields
    • Ouya was born and died
    • 2 World Cups
    • 1 entire Star Wars trilogy
    • Crash came back with a remastered trilogy, won a racing spin off and a mainline sequel.
    • 6 Yakuzas
    • 5 JOJO animations
    • 2 Popes
    • 2 Spider-man reboots in theaters
    • 3 Avengers movies
    • Death of the Wii U and birth of the Switch
    • Launch of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
    • Xbox One and Xbox Series launch
    • Stadia’s birth and his future death
    • Shingeki no Kyojin was in its first season and now Cyberpunk will launch 3 days after its last season
    • Skyrim in the Fridge

This Week in Gaming History

November 28 – 2005 – Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time – Nintendo DS

  • The famous Mario Brothers return in this sequel to the humorous Superstar Saga. In this adventure, Princess Peach takes a trip in a time machine, but when it returns, there’s only a monster inside!
    • The heroic brothers travel back in time only to discover that evil alien life forms known as the Shroobs have taken over the Mushroom Kingdom, and no-one is safe!
    • They soon meet up with their younger selves, and set out to stop the alien menace, not to mention rescue the Princess!
  • Although the game has turn-based battles, it follows the tradition of the previous Mario RPG games, in that button commands can be pressed during battle to increase your attack, defend, and counterattack, to give the impression of a more interactive battle.
  • Battling can also become quite hectic, as players now have to control the each of the four brothers with the four different face buttons.
    • This can make for some very tricky situations when using special power-ups that randomize the brothers’ turns.

November 29 – 1975 – Square – Mainframe

  • Square is a game for two players. Players take turns claiming free points in a grid.
  • The first player to have four points that together make a square wins the game.
  • The game allows for multiple grid sizes and an expert mode where the centre position is unavailable to both players.

November 30 – 2010 – Disney Epic Mickey – Wii

  • Disney Epic Mickey is an action-adventure platforming game for the Wii console that sends Mickey Mouse on an epic journey of creativity and discovery.
    • As Mickey, the player is propelled into Wasteland, an alternate world made up of Disney’s long forgotten characters and attractions, and is given the power to wield paint and paint thinner to dynamically change the world while determining Mickey’s path to becoming an epic hero.
  • Features:
    • Use paint and paint thinner to change the world, interact with friends and enemies and solve challenges
    • Choose the best path to become an epic hero because “Playstyle Matters” and choices will change the outcome of the game
    • Explore and solve challenges in an alternate Disney world ruled by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s first cartoon star
    • Travel between lands in Wasteland through classic platforming levels inspired by animated films and shorts
    • Experience an innovative mix of platforming, action-adventure and light role playing game elements
    • Collect over 75 virtual Disney pins in the game by completing specific challenges, quests and discovering hidden collectibles
  • Josh says:
    • “This game was released right when the rights to a bunch of Disney properties were about to enter public domain. And the new original use of these characters put a reset on everything going free. Disney may have the lawyers to keep him theirs though”

December 1 – 1995 – Virtual Boy Wario Land – Virtual Boy

  • On a vacation in the Awazon river, Wario stumbles across a hidden cave filled with treasure.
    • Of course, being Wario, he wants it all to himself.
    • But the treasure is guarded and soon he finds himself deep within the Earth as the floor crumbles underneath his feet.
    • Now Wario must find his way back to the surface, all the while collecting the treasure he believes rightly belongs to him.
  • This 3D style platform game, following the tradition of the Mario and Wario platform games of the Game Boy, will have you using Wario’s unique abilities (butt stomping for one) to crash his way through the earth to the surface.
    • His other abilities depend upon the hard hat he wears, and different ones are available that can come as an advantage.

December 2 – 2001 – Super Smash Bros.: Melee – GameCube

  • The hit sequel to the N64 smash hit party fighting game.
    • Made such an impact, people still play it as their preferred Smash Bros.
  • The game is a Nintendo fighting game with different rules to it. Instead of knocking your opponent’s health down, you knock him or her out of the battle field.
    • You choose from the wealth of Nintendo characters like Mario, Bowser, Yoshi, different Pokémon, and even Link and then either fight through the single-player portion, featuring modes like Classic, Adventure, and Event Mode or battle it out with your friends in a four-player frenzy.
    • More characters and stages are unlocked as hidden objectives are met, and coins rewarded for playing in all modes can be spent on a capsule toy machine.
    • The toys in the machine represent games from Nintendo’s entire video game history, and each can be viewed in 3D with a brief description.
    • Also, with the simplified fighting controls, it’s pretty easy for even your non-gaming friends to just pick-up and play.
  • Default characters
    • Mario
    • Donkey Kong
    • Link
    • Samus Aran
    • Yoshi
    • Kirby
    • Fox McCloud
    • Pikachu
    • Ness
    • Captain Falcon
    • Bowser
    • Princess Peach
    • Ice Climbers
    • Princess Zelda
    • Sheik
  • Unlockable characters
    • Luigi
    • Jigglypuff
    • Mewtwo
    • Marth
    • Mr. Game & Watch
    • Dr. Mario
    • Ganondorf
    • Falco Lombardi
    • Young Link
    • Pichu
    • Roy

December 3 – 1996 – Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – N64, Windows

  • Set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire tells the story of Prince Xizor’s quest to replace Darth Vader as the leader of the Sith, and wipe out the Rebels’ chances of victory.
    • The only man that can stop him is the interstellar bounty hunter Dash Rendar.
    • The game is based on the novel of the same name, with locations including ice planet Hoth, Mos Eisley and the sewers of Imperial City, all in full 3D.
  • Levels each have very different objectives, ranging from piloting snowspeeders on Hoth and racing speeder bikes on Tatooine to shooting stormtroopers and droids on foot throughout the galaxy.
    • Dash primarily uses a blaster with unlimited ammo, but can also find more powerful weapons with limited ammunition.
    • Each level has optional “challenge points” that are hidden throughout the level, and finding all of them will unlock a cheat dependent on which difficulty setting the save file is on.

December 4 – 2008 – Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars – Wii

  • In Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars is a 3D platform game.
    • After a comet passes Earth, narrowly missing it, but leaving a trail of green dust that enters earth’s atmosphere.
    • The dust causes plants and fungi to become sentient and forming tribes in order to survive the harsh human world.
  • After a period of peace however, a war begins between four mushrooms tribes, the Boletes, Amanitas, Leopiota and the Morels.
    • The player takes control of a Bolete Mushroom named Pax who travels out into the giant human world in order to find a new meteorite for a mushroom village who’s meteorite he absorbed, but soon realizes there is more at stake.
  • The gameplay includes a platforming, exploring levels, defeating enemies, complete certain objectives and collect normal household items.
    • Some of these Items can be fashioned into weapons, while others like the green meteorite chunks make the player stronger.
    • Along the way Players must also avoid obstacles and defeat smaller and boss enemies such as insects, animals and other mushrooms that can easily crush and kill the character.
    • A telekinetic ability can be used to pick up items and throw them at enemies or to activate switches.
    • The game can also be played in co-op mode and a number of mini games is included under options.
  • Josh says:
    • “I remember this game getting advertised really hard, like it was the next big franchise.”

December 5 – 2006 – Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops – PSP

  • The two previous Metal Gear Solid games for PSP, were not the MGS experience people expected like in this game.
    • Portable Ops was the tactical espionage action, people wanted
    • While Ac!d was a turnbased card strategy game
  • It’s been six years since the events in Snake Eater.
    • Snake has been captured and imprisoned in an abandoned missile silo in Colombia, and with no support this time. At least, not at first.
    • With the help of a fellow prisoner, Snake escapes and the game truly begins.
  • Portable Ops is a classic Metal Gear game in almost every sense.
    • The controls will be familiar to anyone who has played previous console entries in the series.
    • Snake can peek around corners, sneak up behind guards… they even carried over CQC (Close Quarters Combat) from Snake Eater.
  • Gathering supplies is also essential due to the main new mechanic found in Portable Ops: recruiting.
    • While Snake starts out on his own, he can enlist disgruntled guards, frustrated technicians, stubborn doctors and more.
    • These soldiers can be used in your “Sneaking Unit” (the team you take into battle for each mission), or in one of the many support units, with certain soldiers having a more natural talent for certain areas.
    • If you put someone who has medical bonuses in your Medical unit, they can produce rations, help your troops recover faster between missions and more.
    • Technicians can create new items for your team, and Spies can steal ammo and give you intel on specific maps, which can open up new side missions or allow you to grab some heavy weaponry.
  • Missions themselves range from recon to rescue to demolitions and beyond.
    • You can only take four troops into a mission, and usually one of them has to be Snake.
    • However, you don’t have to always use Snake during the mission, he just has to be present.
    • You can only control one character at a time, while the rest of the team hides safely inside boxes (usually right by the entry point).
    • On the field, the soldier you use can make a big difference.
    • Many times you can totally bypass a building’s defenses just by playing as a guard.
    • If you do not do anything to draw attention to yourself, you can oftentimes walk right past the enemy, plant some TNT, and walk away.
  • The game supports multiplayer for up to six player simultaneously, over WiFi Ad Hoc and Infrastructure, with game modes such as Team Death Match, Death Match and Capture Mission.

Tidbits

  • With so many shopping online this year, apparently it’s reached the point where UPS told its drivers to stop picking up packages at some major retailers including Nike and the Gap to maintain performance standards
    • Amazon is even offering small rebates on some products if you select a “No-Rush Shipping” option, to reduce strain
  • Reuters is reporting that the Samsung Galaxy Note series may be discontinued as early as next year, with styluses coming to the S21 and next foldable phone instead
  • More than 8.5 months later, Doom Eternal is finally launching on the Switch next week
    • It will be a 19GB digital-only release, and if you get it before December 23rd it includes the early purchase bonus Rip & Tear Pack, as well as a playable copy of Doom 64

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you so much to Dalton. Our longest Patron, we love ya bud, and I hope you are like OMG me? When and if you eventually read this.

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

PS2J 275 News – Bushel of Apple

Security alert

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

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Surviving Mars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The LEGO Group is putting old bricks to use

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

Josh wants to get into Streaming

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

Tidbits

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

Recommend The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad from 1949

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

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

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

This Week:

Game – Sadistic architect values efficiency over safety.

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

A huge thanks to Dalton, for supporting us for so long.

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
A Facebook Page exists as well.