PS2J 307 News – Ransomware Quality Control

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Melbits World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • WRC 8 World Rally Championship

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

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

    • NBA 2k20

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

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

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

    • Hue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clone High is coming back!?!

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

Tidbits

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

 

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Free games

  • 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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