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

  • Epic Games

    • Pathway

      • 2020
      • Isometric strategy adventure game set in the wilderness in the 1930’s that has you exploring the strange unknown. Unravel long-forgotten mysteries of the occult, raid ancient tombs and outwit your foes in turn-based squad combat
  • GOG

    • The Witcher 3, if you own it on a connected account like PS4, Xbox, Steam, etc

      • 2015
      • Action RPG that focuses on narrative and worldbuilding as you go through the land taking on quests and slaying monsters, all the while searching for your missing adoptive daughter before she’s caught by the Wild Hunt
      • The free edition will match what you own on the connected service, either base game or GOTY edition. Players that bought the DLC separately unfortunately don’t get any consideration

The Supreme Court of the US issued a historic decision on workplace protections, ruling 6-3 that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal under an existing Civil Rights era law

  • The existing law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, bars discrimination on the basis of sex. The justices has determined that it extends beyond just the gender you were assigned at birth to your orientation and identity as well
  • Before this, LGBTQ+ workers in more than half of the US had no legal protection against discrimination, and could be fired, demoted, or paid less because of who they are
  • Even multiple educators lauded as Teacher of the Year in different states were discriminated against, bullied, threatened, and fired because of their identity and what they do in their spare time, like counselling LGBTQ+ youth or other non-heteronormative community outreach
    • One was even placed on administrative leave for mentioning her same-gender fiance during a welcome-back presentation to returning students

A new company called OpenCore Computer, with no official affiliation with the OpenCore Bootloader, has launched a commercial Hackintosh computer that has Apple’s lawyers salivating

  • The OpenCore Bootloader is a piece of software developed by enthusiasts that, in theory, would allow you to run macOS on standard PC hardware
  • Apparently a group has taken advantage of that free software to create OpenCore Computer, who claims that they hope to make Mac Pro style workstations more accessible. And you can get a pretty solid system for a bit over $2G USD
  • The problem is that Apple’s licensing agreement, since macOS is completely free, is that it should only run on official Apple hardware. Building your own Hackintosh is a grey area at best, and doing it professionally is solidly illegal
  • They seem to know that their work is fishy right from the get-go too, with payments only accepted in Bitcoin to try and get around the licensing in regards to accepting payments, and using an escrow service so that they get your coins through a middle-man after shipping
  • At the end of the day, if you want a Hackintosh you’re probably better off going on Reddit and following a pre-existing guide. It’s not terribly hard, especially for a hobbyist. And someone who needs the full performance of a Mac Pro would be better off either buying the real deal or switching to Windows, since I doubt the after-market support is up to snuff

EA revealed the upcoming Star Wars: Squadrons, and the details they’ve let loose so far are a radical departure for the company

  • There’s not a lot about gameplay yet, but the trailer looks really cool
  • The biggest shocks are that it’s cross-platform, has a single-player campaign, supports VR, will sell for $40 USD with no microtransactions, and is releasing on Steam rather than Origin
    • If they throw in stick and throttle support this could be a legitimate competitor with the likes of Elite: Dangerous
  • The news, unfortunately, has left many people that were still hoping for a Titanfall 3 disappointed that the “Where Pilots come to play” promo material was completely unrelated

Reddit user RobertAPetersen has set up a really slick shortcut for iOS for if you get stopped by the police

  • Triggered by telling Siri “I’m being pulled over”, it pauses your music, turns down screen brightness, turns on Do Not Disturb, sends a text to the contacts of your choosing with your location letting them know you’re being pulled over, then starts recording video with the front-facing camera
  • And after you’re done recording it will send the video to any contacts you specify and give you the option to upload it to the cloud
  • This is a really good idea even for just my low-level paranoia about police, and I’m white. For people of colour these kinds of tools are a godsend for accountability that clearly just isn’t there in law enforcement

8 years after its successful Kickstarter campaign and still with no release in sight, Star Citizen has now become the most expensive game in history

  • With them still pre-selling copies of the game and different in-game rewards like ships and skins, they’ve managed to surpass the development costs of both GTA V and The Old Republic with a whopping $350M invested to date
  • At this point with all that money and still just sitting at Alpha 3.9 they really have no incentive to ever release, and I’m beginning to think that my $30 pledge for a ship and lifetime insurance might just amount to the JPEGS they already emailed me
    • On the plus side, since I backed it so early they gave me a bunch of extra stuff like a BB-12 Manned Maneuvering Unit and a Preacher Armament Inquisition XXII Gatling. So that’s something, whatever those are
  • In the time since Star Citizen was first funded, Elite Dangerous was Kickstarted, developed, released, given DLC, and is now considered to be an older game

Mei added to Heroes of the Storm

  • The louder people in the Heroes of the Storm fan-base cries out
    • Very similar to the complaining of Fire Emblem characters being added to Smashm
    • I am happy for any character added to either game, more the merrier
  • She is a Tank character, which is different from her Overwatch role of DPS
    • Strong with Crowd Control, Mobility and Survivability
    • Weak against Siege and Burst Damage
  • Her active trait is Cryo-Freeze
    • Mei encases herself in ice gaining a temporary decaying shield and heals up to 35% max health
  • Q is Snow Blind
    • Throws a snowball that hits enemies in an area
    • Deals damage, slows by 35% and Blinds for 1.5 seconds
  • W is Blizzard
    • Snowball creates a blizzard at target location for 2 seconds
    • Enemies take damage every .25 seconds, are slowed by 7% and stacks up to 35%
    • When the Blizzard ends, enemies take extra damage and  and are stunned for 1.25 seconds
  • E is Icing
    • Mei slides quickly in the targeted direction
    • When the effect ends enemies at Mei’s location are knocked back
    • They also take damage and are slowed by 80%, decaying over 1.5 seconds
  • Mei’s first Ultimate is Avalanche
    • After a .5 seconds, a massive snowball rolls forward and consumes enemy heroes in its path
    • At the end of its path it deals huge damage to enemies and stuns them for .5 seconds per hero
  • Mei’s second Ultimate is Ice Wall
    • After a .75 delay an impassible wall emerges and traps enemy heroes in it
    • After 2.5 seconds, the wall crumbles and trapped heroes are freed and slowed by 75% decaying over 3 seconds

Pokemon Snap 2

  • From the Pokemon Twitter
    • We got a minute teaser
  • Shows it will be similar to the original
      • Taking pictures from a safe capsule on a track
        • The one in the trailer uses a invisible tack seen through augmented reality for the character inside
      • Apples are going to be used as bait again
      • Digital camera upgrade
        • Tracks subjects like newer smartphones can
  • New Pokemon featured
    • Seems like an Alola area with all kinds of pokemon
    • The first game did not feature all original 151
      • It will be interesting to see all that are actively in the game
        • And those referenced, like Mewtwo was a constellation
      • Also a pidgeotto swoop on a magikarp

Tidbits

  • Google has committed $175M toward supporting black businesses, and announced plans to increase underrepresented people in its leadership by 30% by 2025
    • It’s a start, but with black employees accounting for less than 4% of their workforce Google still has some work to do with diversity
  • The European Union has opened anti-trust investigations against Apple this week, following complaints by Spotify and Rakuten over Apple’s 30% cut on subscriptions and ebook sales through apps on its platform
  • Slay the Spire has released on iOS, and it’s a ton of fun with a bunch of asterisks
    • It’s a roguelike deckbuilding card game and not bad for $14 CAD, and I’ve been playing it a lot, but the mobile port is missing a lot of polish
    • It’s very faithful to the original, which is great in some ways for people who want a familiar experience but not so great in others- simple things like trying to read your cards is a bit of a mess, since they magnet directly under your fingertip, and on an iPhone without a home button if I’m trying to swipe the game close there’s a good change it will accidentally play a random card while I try
    • Also, it might work a bit better on an iPad but on my phone the text is pretty dang small. The resolution and controls seem pretty much unchanged from when I played it on PC, which is unfortunate because it’s a lot of fun
    • It initially launched at a full 5* rating, but while it’s maintained the top spot in card games on the app store it’s already slipped down to a 3.8 because of these issues

 

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PS2J 303 News – Screws Not Included

Security alert

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

Free Games

  • PS4

    • Star Wars Battlefront II

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

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

    • Destroy all Humans!

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

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

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

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

    • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection

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

    • The Last Tinker: City of Colors

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

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

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

      • Samurai Shodown II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fallout 76 Tips and Tricks from Foam Forge Cosplay

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

Tidbits

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

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

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

 

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PS2J 301 News – The Boy Who Cired YouTube

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Anna’s Quest

      • 2015
      • Point-and-click adventure game following Anna as she attempts to escape an evil witch and save her dying grandfather by solving puzzles, collecting items, and talking to characters throughout the game
  • Epic Games

    • Grand Theft Auto 5

      • 2013
      • Action-adventure sandbox game by Rockstar following three criminals and their efforts to commit heists while under pressure from a government agency and powerful crime figures
      • It quickly became the highest selling entertainment product in history, earning $1B in its first three days, and still consistently sits on Steam’s list of most popular games
      • So popular that it’s singlehandedly taken down the Epic Games Store website, even causing issues with the Epic Games launcher and Fortnite
        • As of recording the site is still down

Utah’s joined the contact tracing game with their new Healthy Together app, aimed at letting people know if they’ve come into contact with someone later diagnosed with COVID-19

  • Unfortunately they decided not to use Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API, and instead opted for a less private GPS and Bluetooth option
  • According to the Utah state website, they opted to use their own framework because they say Bluetooth alone “gives a less accurate picture” than the combination of Bluetooth and GPS
    • I can get how the extra location information could assist in identifying transmission areas, but at the end of the day this is a government app that logs not only who you’re in contact with but also everywhere you go
    • It’s also another case of needing to have the app open and active at all times on a iPhone in order to fully function, which can not only affect battery performance but also the overall longevity of your device
  • At the moment about 45,000 people have signed up for Healthy Together, amounting to about 2% of the state’s population, and some estimates have shown that in order to be effective the apps will need to be used by 60%.
    • Hopefully once the more secure and efficient apps come onto the market we’ll start to see the numbers rise

We’re seeing another dark side to the wild west that is exposure notification- spam and phishing attacks

  • Police in Maine are warning cell phone users of a text message scam in which people are sending things like
    • “Someone who came into contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get tested. More at <link>”
    • These are not official messages and are doing nothing but spread panic and, depending on where the link is pointed, could give hackers a way in to get your personal information
  • The Better Business Bureau has also said that scammers are targeting seniors with messages posing as the US Department of Health and telling them they need to take a mandatory online COVID-19 test to receive their recently approved government stimulus payment
  • It’s tough to say exactly how to tell the scam messages from real ones, but one giveaway is if you aren’t running a contact tracing app then the government has no way to identify that you’ve been exposed, never mind text you about it
  • Once tracing apps start using the Apple/Google exposure notification features I think we’ll be in much better shape, as you’ll see proper system notifications from trusted government apps rather than a hodgepodge of whatever your area has put together themselves

Epic Games has unveiled the new Unreal Engine 5, and it’s very pretty

  • Unreal Engine is a game engine used by the developers of a lot of high-profile games from Yoshi’s Crafted World to the Batman: Arkham titles and Final Fantasy VII Remake
  • The new engine focuses on photorealism on par with movie CG and live-action video, and there’s a very pretty demo video online of it running on developer PS5 hardware
  • The coolest thing is that it’s not just for next-gen- the engine will support current consoles, computers, and even iOS and Android
  • As part of the same announcement Epic has also changed how its royalties work regarding use of the engine, retroactively taking 5% of sales only after a game has earned its first $1M in sales. And that 5% is waived for games published on the Epic Games Store
    • On top of that, any Oculus-exclusive games made with Unreal don’t start paying until they hit $5M in sales
    • So you can get access to triple-A game development tools for free and only start paying royalties if your game is a big success. Pretty solid deal!

Wink, a company that makes a smart home hub that links different smart home devices together, has decided to switch from a purchase model to subscriptions and completely screw over their current users

  • Previously Wink would work like most other smart home devices, you buy it once, set it up, and it works with no additional costs
  • Now, 5 years in, they’ve decided that hardware sales don’t cover their costs and you need to pay $5/month to continue using hardware you own
    • Even if you don’t use their cloud services, your access to the app, voice control, API, and automations all get deactivated if you don’t pay their ransom
    • Part of their justification is that they don’t make any extra money by selling your information, like other platforms might, but that’s less of a bonus and more of an essential feature
  • In response to backlash they went from a one-week notice period to two weeks, allowing an extra 7 days before users start being charged the monthly fee
  • I could see it if they introduced new devices reliant on a subscription, or maybe if they had a buy-back program for people that don’t want to subscribe and therefore no longer have any use for the product, but nothing like that has been announced
  • This seems like a fairly customer-hostile move, and I’ll be surprised if Wink manages to move forward without introducing something to justify the added cost

Apple has started reopening its retail stores and some of the safety measures it’s taking may violate EU privacy rules

  • One of the measures Apple’s taking to protect everyone includes temperature checks before customers are allowed to enter, using a non-contact forehead thermometer
  • However a data protection agency in Germany is concerned those checks violate EU privacy and data protection rules and has launched a probe, according to Bloomberg Law
  • Assuming they’re not storing the data or linking it to people in any way, I’m guessing this won’t amount to anything. It sounds comparable to nightclubs checking ID before allowing people to enter

New Paper Mario on Switch!

  • Paper Mario: The Origami King
    • Coming out July 17th!
  • Nintendo’s page is letting you know you can pre-order it now
    • If you pre-order it will install the data now
    • And at midnight for on the 17th you can play the game
  • A beautiful paper world to unfold
    • The devious King Olly has transformed Princess Peach into origami, uprooted her castle and sealed it shut with magical paper streamers.
    • Join Mario and his new companion Olivia on a comedic adventure that will take you to the far corners of a papercraft world
      • With the help of Olivia’s paper-folding powers, use the far-reaching 1,000 Fold Arms and other paper transformations to save those imprisoned by the Origami King’s henchmen, and help restore peace to the world.
    • Face off against the Origami King and his army of paper invaders, team up with some extraordinary companions and master magical powers on your quest to save the world.
    • Journey across the land – from scorching deserts to sailing the high seas – and recruit a revolving cast of wacky travel buddies, as you seek to sever these sinister streamers and save your paper pals from being turned into one of the Folded Soldiers!
    • Repair the damage done by the Folded Soldiers and rescue Toads trapped in all manner of wacky scrapes!
    • Put a stop to King Olly’s plans by engaging in battles which will put both your tactical thinking and puzzle solving skills to the test – against his origami army, as well as humongous bosses under his command!
  • From what I could tell from the video and screen shots
    • Paper Mario is teamed up with the origami Olivia for special powers
      • One featured has him with extended origami arms
      • It looks like the arms will be using joycon motions to work
      • Like pulling a cardboard tab along a perforated edge
    • It also looks like all the paper denizens are teamed up with Mario
      • Enemies pictured behind him facing the origami threat
      • Bowser looks like he got folded down to just his face to diminish his power
    • Game play looks very familiar
      • Traversing crafted 3D enviroments
      • RPG combat with bonuses for timing
      • Might have an over-world where travel is done not to scale
    • And it looks like some things are 3D papermache
      • Perhaps its different from the 2D paper but weaker than Origami?
        • The ending has a silly clip of Paper Mario with a giant papermache Samus helmet
          • He is running back and forth making a fist pretending his arm is a blaster
        • The scene also has a papermache DK head, adding more questions to how Paper Mario ties into the Nintendo franchises

Tidbits

  • The latest rumours for the expected over-ear AirPods Studio look very interesting with technology expected for head/neck detection (similar to ear detection in AirPods that pauses your media when you take one out), and automatic left-right side assignment
    • Analysts say that instead of having a specific left or right speaker, the headphones will detect which way they’re being worn and adjust accordingly
    • They’re expected to retail for about $349 USD
  • A remastered version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 was announced this week in text messages from the man himself
    • Apparently Tony has a text message service you can sign up for to receive messages from him throughout the year, and he took to it to announce that every skating level from the two PlayStation 1 games would return, along with every pro skater in the original games, and the custom skate park feature from Pro Skater 5
    • Activision says it will be coming to the Xbox One, PS4, and PC (via Epic Games) this September for $40 USD, $60 CAD
  • To promote learning from home, Ubisoft is making their Discovery Tour series completely free for anyone with a Uplay account
    • Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece and DT: Ancient Egypt are versions of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and AC: Origins that strip out the combat in favour of education
    • You can explore multiple regions, learn about daily life in the period, and hear about myths, legends, and philosophies of the cultures
  • In an effort to get around Trump’s ban on American companies from doing business with them, Huawei is re-releasing old phones that still support Google apps
    • Apparently the ban has worked is that any devices launched before the ban, and even some slightly afterward, can still be sold with Google apps installed
    • Since then though it’s been expected that Huawei will have a 20% drop is sales this year, and that may only be the initial impact as the Google-enabled Huawei phones become de-supported and fall off the market
    • So Huawei’s solution is to release “New Edition” versions of last year’s phones- new software and more memory, but otherwise the exact same phone
    • These can’t really take the place of their flagship line of devices, but it’s something they can put out there and see if people will buy, at least

 

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

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PS2J 299 News – Virtual Cataracts

Free Games

  • Cross-platform

    • Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 is available for free until May 10 on PS4, PC, and Xbox One
  • Twitch

    • Old School Musical

      • 2015
      • A rhythm game that takes you through 50 different chiptune tracks on a tour of old favourite retro games to teach you where all the bugs in those classic games come from
  • Epic Games

    • Amnesia: The Dark Descent

      • 2010
      • Survival horror adventure game that has you exploring a dark, foreboding castle while trying to avoid monsters and maintain your sanity
    • Crashlands

      • 2016
      • Action-adventure RPG originally built for iOS and Android described as a story-driven crafting game comparable to Don’t Starve, wherein you need to collect items in order to make weapon and armour
  • PS4

    • Cities: Skylines

      • 2017 port of the 2015 PC game
      • Open-ended city building simulation in the spirit of SimCity after the critical failure of EA’s 2013 franchise reboot
    • Farming Simulator 19

      • Pretty much what it says on the tin- it’s a full farming simulator with huge American and European environments, over 300 vehicles and machines, online co-op play, and a surprisingly large mod community
      • This entry brought in horse farming as well as oat and cotton crops
  • Xbox

    • V-Rally 4

      • 2018
      • Rally racing game with 51 different cars that takes you from through Monument Valley, Niger, Romania, Malaysia, and more
    • Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr

      • 2017
      • Action RPG with a top-down view and a focus on melee and ranged combat set in the Warhammer 40K universe, frequently compared to Diablo
    • Overlord 2

      • 2009
      • Action RPG that has you destroying or conquering the land by commanding your hordes of minions and taking down the Roman-styled “Glorious Empire”
    • Sensible World of Soccer

      • 2007 HD enhanced version of the 1996 Amiga classic
      • 2D European football game with a comprehensive manager mode, with data on 1,500 teams and 27,000 players. This game is notable as the only sports game included on the list of “the ten most important video games of all time”, as compiled by the curator for the History of Science and Technology Collections at Stanford along with notable game designers and researchers

Apple and Google’s new exposure notification framework, previously referred to as contact tracing, is continuing to evolve and and develop

  • They’ve settled on the different name because of what it is- a framework for notifying people if they’ve been exposed. It’s a tool that can be used in conjunction with contact tracing, but because they’re focused on privacy as a top priority that’s not a part of the developing specifications
    • More details have been coming out with the framework’s introduction into the iOS 13.5 beta, and it sounds like notifications will be handled by phones  downloading a new list of identifiers for positive tests regularly and then notifying you if any of them match ones you’ve come into contact with
    • Users will be able to opt out of exposure notifications under Settings, Privacy, Health
  • Germany, originally set on developing a home-grown contact tracing app with centralized data available to health authorities, has changed course and now is working with the Apple-Google approach
    • Also running with the decentralized plan is Switzerland, Estonia, and Austria
  • The UK, unfortunately, is dead set on having their National Health Service manage all the data and not working within those parameters
    • The NHS says it has a way to make the software work “sufficiently well” without users needing to keep it active and on-screen, without “excessively affecting battery life”, but that “excessively” has me concerned
      • Apparently it will work by having the app wake up in the background every time another device running the same software is detected. Then it runs some code to log the contact before going to sleep again
      • Australia said they also had a workaround, but they’ve since acknowledged power consumption problems as well as interference if users have other Bluetooth and location-tracking apps open
    • Not to mention the fact that they’re so set on taking all this data in that I worry they’re not giving full weight to the privacy argument- if you’re going to expect your citizens to use this app, you can’t treat it like an ankle-bracelet on a felon.
    • I get that having all the data kept in-house seems like a good idea, but Apple and Google are pretty smart and they’re building a seemingly solid platform that allows for notifications and battery performance without compromising integrity and privacy

Good news, Google Stadia has now launched PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds! Bad news, it’s filled with terrible bots!

  • Everyone with a Gmail account still has a free two-month trial of Stadia Pro, which now includes the ability to play PUBG on the service
  • Unfortunately it looks like they’re filling matches with bots- players with underscores in their names that don’t actually jump out of the plane, but appear randomly through the world with pre-filled inventories
    • The game normally drops 100 players on an island to fight it out for supremacy, but ArsTechnica had matches with 98 or even 99 bots
  • I can get why they have bots, to ease new players in without throwing them to the wolves that have been playing religiously for years, but this really seems like a terrible way to do it

Oculus Quest Follow-up

  • Knuckle grips are great and really help with Beat Saber
    • AMVR
  • Battery pack counterweight works well, but hampers the pick-up-and-play a bit
    • Anker, Aukey
  • Prescription lenses are really comfortable
    • WidmoVR
  • The Room VR is a creepy escape room that’s a lot of fun
    • Casting to my phone turned it into a co-op game, but the visibility is a little rough with fast movements causing lag and text not being very readable
  • Oculus store really needs a way to gift games to someone

Josh’s day was ruined very early

VSGO professional lens pen, the buffing pad scratched my left lens on my Oculus Quest
  • Now its like I have cataracts in my left eye playing VR
  • I tried a rubbing alcohol and water solution and it helped a LITTLE bit
Hope is on the horizon
  • a redditor had a family member clean their quest with a shirt or something abrasive.
  • polyWatch is a product that fixes surface scratches
    • polyWatch Plastic Polish offers a simple and reliable solution for removing scratches from plastic watch crystal.
Some people have been using watch glass protectors for their lenses
  • I’m nervouse about adding anything like that to the lenses

Josh guested on Podzilla 1985’s Mr 100 and the 5 Star man

Mr. 100 (or should we say the PHOENIX) and the 5 Star Man are finally back after a TWO MONTH hiatus with a special guest from up north – Josh from PS2J! Come for the Canadian politeness, stay for the talk about American Horror Story, Final Fantasy, Buffy, and more!

Assassins Creed Valhalla

The history of the Assassins versus the Templar travels to Norhtern Europe
Settlements play a big part in the game
  • Trailer opens up on a viking village in Norway.
  • The trailer follows the protagonist Eivor
  • It seems that the viking religion plays a part in the game
    • Unsure of it being supernaturally or just spirtually
Eivor
  • A viking raider from Norway, leaving to the shores of England
  • Eivor is able to be male or female as the player prefers
The story is trying to show a full culture of people
  • The English are shown as terrified of Viking settlers and trying to show them in a bad light
  • At the time of the game 870 AD, England is not united, and is run by many kings
  • The game seems to be about Viking trying to settle on England
    • And fighting for the territory already held by the Saxons.
Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex
  • He is the main antagonist to the vikings in the game and history
There is a lot of viking tactics in the game
  • Longships are used to strike and retreat quickly
  • Some battles of soldier to soldier combat on fortifications
  • Raiding, where the objective is to steal resources rather than fight an enemy
Combat is quite a focus
  • You will be able to dual-wield any one handed weapons
    • Even dual-wield shields
  • And I feel there will be the ability to steal the weapons from the enemy
  • There is a face-off where Eivor is tossed around by a very large opponent
    • Heavily armored and seems to wield a claymore as a long sword
    • Avor wins with the “surprising” reveal of a hidden blade gauntlet
      • It is strapped to the top of his arm, rather then concealed below
      • It doesn’t mean Eivor is a born an raised assassin, but it is confirmed that they are working together
There will also be RPG elements
  • The usual skill trees and gear collecting to fit your playstyle
  • You will also be forming strategic alliances
  • Wins in combat and conversation both pave your path the greatness.
  • You get to grow and customize your settlement
    • recruit clan members
    • upgrade structures
    • make a barracks to get better recruits
    • have your blacksmith improve your weapons
    • new customization options at the tattoo parlor
    • and they promise more
  • Seems like in Blackflag, you will be able to send your recruits on missions for your friends
    • create and customize your own viking mercenaries
    • share them online
    • share in the spoils when they help your friends in their own sagas
    • all while recruiting your own player made mercenaries
  • There are also side quest activities
    • hunting
    • fishing
    • dice
    • drinking games
    • and the traditional Norse competition of flyting
      • basically Viking rap battles
Will be a launch title for Xbox Series X and PS5, and coming to current generation consoles this holiday season.

Tidbits

  • The Last of Us Part 2, originally slated for release back in February and then pushed to May 29th, has been delayed once more to June 19th of this year
    • This latest delay is due to the COVID situation, but has some really bad timing considering there was a massive story leak purporting to show the entire game just a few days ago. People wanting to avoid spoilers will need to be careful for the next couple months
  • Google has launched its second-gen Pixel Buds this week, bringing a couple of my favourite AirPods features to Android
    • They use a pairing process Google calls Fast Pair- you just hold the case near your phone and open it, then a screen pops up to automatically pair them and link them to your Google account
    • They’ve also brought the wireless earbuds into their Find My Device app, similar to Apple’s Find My app that lets you ring them and see the last location they were connected
  • The latest iOS beta software will now detect if you’re wearing a mask and skip from FaceID to the passcode prompt faster
    • You can also speed up the passcode prompt before this releases if you tap on the text saying “Face ID” on your screen while it tries to identify you
  • Huawei, for the fourth time, is taking heat for advertising campaigns that make it look like photos are being taken with their phones but in reality the photos are being taken with professional Nikon or Canon DSLR cameras and lenses
    • Their excuse is that they never actually say the photos are taken with the phones they’re advertising, but when you have you model hold their hand out toward the camera as if they were holding it you’re definitely setting some expectations on purpose

 

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

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

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!

PS2J 297 News – Soylent Strikes Back

Free Games

  • Epic

    • Just Cause 4

      • 2018
      • Third-person action-adventure sandbox that throws you into the world with a wingsuit, grappling hook, hot air balloons, rocket boosters, and all kinds of weaponry, then asks you to liberate the land from its oppressive government
    • Wheels of Aurelia

      • 2016
      • A visual novel / adventure game that takes you on a road trip through the gritty western coast of Italy during the 1970’s. Playing as Lella, a bold, spunky woman, experience the sights and sounds of a tumultuous time in Italy’s history while uncovering events from Lella’s past through branching dialogue and multiple endings.
  • PS4 (without Plus!) until May 5th as part of Sony’s Play At Home initiative

    • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

      • 2015
      • Free for PSPlus members in January, remastered port of the first three Uncharted games from the PS3 era: Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves, and Drake’s Deception
      • Uncharted is known for its Tomb Raider style third-person action adventure gameplay including shooting, combat, and puzzle solving
    • German and Chinese gamers will get Knack 2 instead of Uncharted

      • 2017
      • Action platforming game that has you punching, kicking, and changing size to fight enemies, solve puzzles, and find upgrades. It also has local drop-in-drop-out multiplayer co-op
    • Journey

      • 2015
      • A lovely indie adventure game that originally hit the PS3 in 2012, you control a robed figure in a vast desert, travelling toward a mountain in the distance. Along the way you may encounter another player and assist each other for a while, but there’s no chat or communication other than a musical chime you use to activate strange pieces of cloth and affect the world. You don’t even see each other’s names until after the credits

Thanks to an indirect data breach, there are over 500K Zoom accounts being sold on the dark web and in hacker forums

  • Cybersecurity firm Cyble was able to purchase 530K zoom credentials for about 1/5 of a cent each this month, verifying the legitimacy of the leak
  • With the credentials, hackers can access your account information like your name, email address, password, personal meeting URL, and your account’s HostKey
  • The twist here is that Zoom didn’t actually have a data breach themselves- I said ‘indirect’ because from the sounds of it these login details were the results of “credential stuffing attacks”, where hackers attempt to log in to a service using accounts previously leaked
    • That means that if you’ve re-used a password that has been compromised, especially if you’re using the same email address, there’s a good chance that you may be affected.

Apple and Google announced a joint effort this week that will see them using Bluetooth to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 around the world

  • Starting in May, both Apple and Google will release functionality that will let Android and iOS devices help track potential exposure using apps from public health authorities (like the Canadian government COVID-19 app)
  • Then in the coming months they’ll work to enable broader Bluetooth-based tracing built directly into their platforms, allowing interaction with a wider variety of apps and government health authorities
    • The initial idea for this piece is that everyone who opts in will get a random, rotating identifier that changes every 15 minutes
      • The list of identifiers you’ve been in contact with doesn’t leave your phone unless you explicitly share it
    • This ID will get transmitted to other nearby devices via Bluetooth automatically
    • The idea is that, locally on your device, you can see a 14 day window of whether your phone has been near the device of someone self-identifying that they’ve tested positive for COVID-19
      • The trick here being that users testing positive aren’t identified to Apple, Google, or other users. It’s all anonymized.
  • Of course, this is going to need some major security, as privacy and consent are going to be very important to this kind of endeavour
    • Having both Apple and Google working on it will be good, as they can keep each other in check (thought I feel like Apple will have to be the main privacy watchdog here)
  • The tool isn’t meant to track locations, but rather personal contact, so it’s not as bad as it could be. But it’s going to have to be locked down airtight or a lot of information could potentially be reverse-engineered from this

Telus’s Babylon Health app is being promoted in Alberta via a deal with Premier Kenney and could be dangerous to women’s health

  • The Babylon app is meant to allow people to check symptoms and contact doctors remotely through text or video chats, which you’d think was a great idea in the current situation
  • It’s even currently covered by BC’s provincial health care, and Alberta’s premier Jason Kenny and our minister of health Tyler Shandro made a deal with Telus to distribute it in Alberta
  • Unfortunately they didn’t consult a single doctor before-hand to verify the app’s effectiveness
  • Doctors have found that the built in symptom checker is deeply flawed- with the exact same symptoms and history (60 years old, 20/day smoker, sudden chest pain and nausea), a male is diagnosed with a heart attack and told to visit emergency services, but a woman is told it’s a panic attack and that some symptoms may need to be checked out by a GP within 6 hours
  • This is another great example of not only health care’s gender-bias, which is appalling, but also our government’s messed up priorities
  • The president of the Alberta Medical Association has gone on record saying that the way the app and its physicians are put together, the fact that they don’t actually have access to your medical records, and how they don’t coordinate your care at all beyond faxing your family doctor if you specifically request it, leads to fragmented and potentially dangerous medical care
  • At this point we have our government effectively advertising a handicapped, pseudo-privatized health care
    • But then again, we also live in the province that spent between $14-20K buying Facebook ads to promote Kenney donating PPE and ventilators to BC, Ontario, and Quebec

Apple announced their new iPhone SE this week, and though the name hasn’t changed everything else has

  • The new device is using the iPhone 8 body and comes in three colours- white, black, and Product(Red) that has proceeds going toward COVID-19 aid instead of HIV/AIDS this time around
  • Specs-wise it has a 4.7” LCD display, the same processor as the flagship iPhone 11, TouchID 2 and Haptic Touch, the same camera as the XR and XS, and dual/eSIM support
    • So with this device replacing the iPhone 8, 3D Touch is officially dead and Haptic Touch (aka press and hold) unfortunately is the victor
  • That means you’ll see some fantastic performance for years to come as long as you don’t mind not having FaceID and using a slightly more basic screen
  • All that starts at $399 USD ($599 CAD) for the 64GB, up to $549 USD ($809 CAD) for the 256GB version

Final Fantasy VII Remake mini-review

  • Really good, a ton of fun for fans of both the old and new styles of Final Fantasy game
  • I really like the world they’ve built out of the first chunk of the original, and I’m looking forward to more

Soylent is back baby!

  • Soylent.ca is where to get it

  • Not following our Soylent coverage and you’re confused why we’re ecxited
  • Here is their copy
    • Soylent is a complete meal — affordable, sustainable, and satisfying.
    • We engineer our ever-evolving products to deliver convenient nutrition when you need it.
    • If you’ve ever missed a meal, eaten something regrettable in the throes of hangry, or had no time to eat, Soylent is for you.
    • In a world with a rapidly growing population, and rapidly diminishing resources, we all need access to nutrition that is cost-effective and easy to consume. We’re pro-GMO, pro-sustainability, and ready to change how the world thinks about food.
  • What can we buy in Canada right now?

    • Soylent Drinks
      • A ready-to-drink meal offering 400 kcal, 28 vitamins and minerals, and 20g of plant-based protein.
      • Ordering is at a case at a time
        • 12 Bottles a case
        • One time purchase at $4.75 a bottle
          • $57 a case
        • Subscription rate is $4.28 a bottle
          • $51.30
          • Frequency at 15, 30, 45 and 60 days
      • Original
        • The flavor that started it all
        • Light, sweet, and velvety smooth
      • Chocolate
        • Rich, chocolatey flavor with real cacao powder.
      • Cafe Mocha
        • The chocolatey, robust coffee drink of your dreams.
        • Same ready-to-drink meal with an added caffeine boost to start your day.
        • When I had the drink back when it was called Coffiest, it tasted like black coffee in Soylent, which was good in my opinion
    • Soylent Powder
      • 450 grams in a bag
      • 20g of protein and 28 vitamins and minerals per serving.
        • Recommended serving is 60 grams of powder
        • And each case has 35 meals worth of pwder
        • One time purchase at $2.51 per meal
          • $88 an order
        • Subscription at $2.09 a meal
          • $73.04 per order
          • Frequency at 15, 30, 45 and 60 days
        • Original
          • The complete-meal powder that started it all.
          • A light, sweet taste.
          • Mix Original into your favorite smoothie to create your own flavor profile or enjoy it on its own for a velvety-smooth meal.
        • Chocolate
          • Ideal for smoothies
    • Accessories
      • First subscription gives you a pitcher and scoop
        • Which I no longer have
      • And there is a Soylent branded blender bottle
        • Our 20oz Soylent Blender Bottles are perfect for all your meal replacement powder needs.
        • Shake up 200 kcal or 400 kcal servings on the go, wherever you go.
        • For a limited time only, Soylent Blender Bottles ship with a 200 kcal scoop — perfect for easy measuring.
        • $11

 

  • Now this looks like a lot
    • I am very grateful they put a foot back into Canada
    • However, we are missing some products that are available to the United States
      • Soylent Drinks
        • Vanilla
          • Classic vanilla flavor with a sweet, subtle taste and no added caffeine
        • Strawberry
          • Our sweet strawberry flavor with a fruity finish.
        • Mint Chocolate
          • Minty chocolate deliciousness. Twist the cap and dive into our brand new flavor.
        • Brand New Soylent STACKED
          • Soylent Stacked is the first of its kind. This 11 oz complete energy drink is packed with 15g of plant protein and 36 essential nutrients, plus nootropics which improve focus, increases mental output, and gives you the nutrients your body needs.
        • And a variety pack to get 4 of each Cacao, Strawberry and Vanilla
      • Soylent Eats
        • These are little snack bars
          • 100 calorie mini meal serves up 5g of plant protein, 36 essential nutrients and probiotics.
        • They come in boxes of 30 squares
          • Chocolate Brownie
          • Salted Caramel
          • Citrus Berry
          • Variety Pack
          • And a sampler pack of 9 bars

Tidbits

  • Apple’s introduced a Mac Pro Wheels kit for everyone that bought a Mac Pro and were disappointed when it didn’t roll around wildly with no way to lock it down
    • The kit goes for $700 USD, compared to the $300 static feet option, leading many to wonder- why are my computer’s wheels more expensive than my car’s tires?
  • With physical distancing expected to be in effect for the foreseeable future, Polygon’s gathered a bunch of really sweet stories from people going on blind island dates
    • Animal Crossing has apparently become the latest great Tinder first date destination
  • Nintendo’s latest Switch system update has brought a bunch of quality-of-life improvements this week
    • Changes include the ability to transfer games and DLC from the system’s memory to and from an SD card (though you still can’t move save data over), and the option to remap controller buttons at a global level (a big win for accessibility)
  • Nevada Gaming Control has approved gambling on three eSports events, so with physical sports being cancelled you can now bet on the 2020 League of Legends European Championship, the North American League of Legends Championship Series, and the Overwatch League
  • The official Star Wars website has announced that Episode I: Racer will be released on the Switch and PS4 on May 12th

 

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Free Games

  • Microsoft

    • Batman: The Enemy Within

      • 2017
      • Episodic adventure game in classic Telltale Games fashion, and a sequel to 2016’s Batman: The Telltale Series, it features the usual branching narrative and choices carrying over from the previous title
    • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

      • 2016
      • The fourth game in the Shantae series, and the first full HD title, it’s a cute platformer with metroidvania elements that has you transforming into different animals to access new areas
    • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

      • 2014
      • An action-adventure sequel to the 2010 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, you play a weakened Dracula on a quest through medieval and modern worlds to defeat Satan
    • Sonic Generations

      • 2011
      • Produced for the 20th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, and featuring both classic sidescrolling and full 3D levels, it follows Sonic and Tails as they team up with their past selves to stop an evil entity from erasing time itself
  • Sony

    • Shadow of the Colossus

      • 2018 remake of the 2005 PS2 game
      • Beautiful action-adventure game that has you exploring a vast expanse on horseback to defeat the 16 colossi to restore the life of a girl, it’s minimalist in that there are no towns to explore, characters to interact with, or enemies to defeat other than the colossi
    • Sonic Forces

      • 2017
      • Platformer published for Sonic’s 25th anniversary, it features both classic side-scrolling and modern 3D Sonic gameplay, as well as a mode featuring custom characters inspired by fanart over the years
      • This one caught some flack for being released after the success of Sonic Mania
  • Epic

    • InnerSpace

      • 2018
      • Adventure game inspired by Journey and Grow Home that has you soaring through the sky and diving into the ocean in search of the ancient gods of the Inverse, a realm of inside-out planets

Google’s strange stance on the ToTok messaging app malware is making a lot of people suspicious

  • ToTok first hit as a popular social messaging app receiving millions of downloads from the Play and App Stores combined, with the iOS app alone having more than 32,000 reviews
  • Then late last year both Google and Apple removed the app from their app stores after US intelligence officials found it was a tool for spying by the United Arab Emirates government
    • They told the New York times that the UAE was trying to track “every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound, and image of those who install it on their phones.”
    • An independent analysis of the iOS and macOS apps confirmed that, if you gave it permission to access your contacts, it did in fact collect entire address books and send them back to head office
    • Not to mention the fact that all in-app communications would be readily accessible to the developers if they so choose
  • Then a week later, Google put it right back with no explanation
  • And then this week they removed it from the Play Store a second time, again with no explanation
  • Finally, over the last few days Google’s Play Protect app scanning service started showing the warning “This app tries to spy on your personal data, such as SMS messages, photos, audio recordings, or call history. Even if you have heard of this app or the app developer, this version of the app could harm your device.”
    • The message then gives you two options, either Uninstall or Keep App (Unsafe)
  • That back-and-forth, especially with them not telling users exactly what they know about the app, has people scratching their heads
    • Some are even speculating there may have been some insider on the app approval team that tried to sneak it back in

Slickwraps customers were treated some conflicting information about their privacy this week, but the bullet point here is that the company has been breached

  • Earlier this week the whitehat hacker and cybersecurity consultant known as Lynx posted a full breakdown of exactly how they hacked Slickwraps’ website and, by extension, their internal systems
    • Basically it looks like the case customization feature, that lets you upload a photo to make a custom decal, allowed users to upload any file to any location on the webserver
    • That allowed access to the full contents of the server, including employee resumes and 9GB of customer photos (which, of course, included nudes)
    • From there Lynx got into configuration files, leading to their entire database including customer addresses, emails, phone numbers, and transaction histories
      • As a bonus they also got access to Slickwraps’ admin accounts and credentials for their payment partners, admin accounts, social media, and help desk
    • Basically, at this point Lynx owned Slickwraps’ entire digital infrastructure
    • Now you might ask, why did they post this info publicly? Well apparently they tried to contact support subtly on Twitter, directly through the support portal, and then no subtly by adding a page to their website saying “Lynx was here” and tweeting it to their support account
      • The company’s response, apparently, was to block Lynx on Twitter and, according to Lync, try to erase the data breach from their logs and reset passwords, even reinstalling their whole eCommerce platform, without actually closing the hole in their security
    • Days afterward they continued to ignore Lynx, even after other unscrupulous activity could be seen going on as other hackers caught wind of the vulnerability
    • Eventually the company messaged Lynx asking if they were looking for a bounty. Lynx replied, saying they didn’t want anything but for Slickwraps to notify their users of the breach as they’re required to do as part of European data privacy laws, which they were already in breach of since it took them so long after first contact to do anything
      • Then things got a little dark, with Lynx threatening that if Slickwraps didn’t contact customers they would do it themselves and potentially leak the entire database of information
      • The response? “Why are you doing this?”, followed up by “Are you able to help?” and “We are just the social team, btw and done via a 3rd party”
      • So Lynx did what they perhaps should have done in the first place- they found the CEO’s email in the Slickwraps database and emailed him, telling him to check the messages
      • Shortly afterward, Lynx was once more blocked. So days after first contact they gave up and published their findings
  • Eventually Slickwraps did sent out a notification on February 21st, 6 days after the initial hack, saying “On February 22nd, we discovered information in some of our non-production databases was mistakenly made public via an exploit. During this time, the databases were accessed by an unauthorized party.” and claiming to have closed the databases in question
    • The timeline here is a little suspect, as well as the claim that it was non-production databases accessed rather than their entire infrastructure
    • It was also sent to a lot fewer users than were actually exposed- other whitehats sent out emails to the entire database details what happened, including each customer’s name and physical address as evidence, and there are many reports online of people receiving this email and not the official one
  • There’s also the fact that at this point, depending on how far Slickwraps has come in actually addressing the issue, I would avoid their website since who knows what malware or other surprises people have snuck into place
  • But there is good news here- no passwords or financial data were leaked, and if you checked out as Guest instead of creating an account you’re completely safe
  • People that have been affected will need to be on the lookout for more targeted phishing attacks though, as a lot of identifying information is out in the wild now
  • If you want to see if you’re affected you can punch your email address into haveibeenpwned.com to see a list of data breaches that include your information

Having fun with MTG Commander again

  • Thanks to my friend Cam for inviting me to his MTG night
  • Cam helped pick out some mean cards for my Mogis Commander deck
    • Here are some Highlights:
    • Mogis, God of Slaughter
      • For reference my commander, when on the field causes my opponent to sacrifice a creature or take 2 damage every upkeep
    • Dictate of the Twin Gods, 5 mana Enchantment
      • If a source would deal damage to a permanent or player, it deals double dame to that permanent or player instead.
    • Painful Quandry, 5 mana Enchantment
      • Whenever an opponent casts a spell, that player loses 5 life unless he or she discards a card
    • Ob Nixilis, Unshackled, 6 mana Legendary Creature, 4/4
      • Flying, Trample
      • Whenever an opponent searches his or her library, that player sacrifices a creature and loses 10 life.
      • Whenever another creature dies, put a +1/+1 on this creature
    • God-Pharoh’s Statue, 6 mana Legendary Artifact
      • Spells your opponents cast cost 2 more to cast
      • At the beginning of your end step, each opponent loses 1 life
    • Hour of Devastation, 5 mana Sorcery
      • All creatures lose indestructible until end of turn.
      • Hour of Devastation deals 5 damage to each creature and non-Bolas planeswalker
    • Fraying Omnipotence, 5 mana Sorcery
      • Each player loses half their life, then discards half the cards in their hand, then sacrifices half the creatures they control.
      • Round up.
    • Dingus Staff, 4 mana Artifact
      • Whenever a creature is put into any graveyard from play, Dingus Staff deals 2 damage to that creatures contoller

Overwatch Experimental 1-3-2

  • There is a new tab when selecting your game called Experimental.
    • It is reserved for radically different tests, that are not meant to roll into the game, which is why they aren’t seen exclusively on the Public Test Realm.
  • The first is a test to change the dynamic of team play to have one tank, three damage and two support.
    • To make one tank more viable, here are the interesting changes made to the Tank Heroes.
  • D.Va

    • Health
      • Still 600, but adjusted to have 200 more armor
    • Defense Matrix
      • Lasts twice as long, now 4 seconds
    • Fusion Cannons, primary fire
      • Now only reduce movement speed by 30% instead of 50%
  • Orisa

    • Protective Barrier
      • Cooldown reduced from 10 seconds to 8
      • Barrier health increased to 900
  • Reinhardt

    • Health
      • Still 500, adjusted to have 100 more armor
    • Rocket Hammer, primary fire
      • Damage increased from 75 to 90
    • Barrier Field
      • Regeneration increased from 200 to 250 per second
  • Roadhog

    • Take A Breather
      • In addition to regular effect, leaves a cloud when used.
      • The cloud heals all allies for 25 health per second and provides 25% damage reduction
    • Chain Hook
      • Reduced from 8 to 6 seconds
    • Scrap Gun, primary fire
      • Damage per pellet reduced from 6 to 5 (150 damage per shot down to 125 damage)
    • Whole Hog
      • Cost increased by 15%
  • Sigma

    • Experimental Barrier
      • Regeneration rate increased from 120 to 200 per second
      • Barrier health increased from 900 to 1200
  • Winston

    • Health
      • Armor health pool increased from 100 to 200 (Total health is now 600)
    • Barrier Projector
      • Cooldown reduced from 13 seconds to 10 seconds
  • Zarya

    • Health and Energy
      • Shields health pool increased from 200 to 300. (Total health is now 500)
      • Maximum energy gain per barrier decreased from 40 to 30
    • Particle Cannon, primary fire
      • Maximum primary fire damage per second reduced from 170 to 140
    • Particle Cannon, secondary fire
      • Maximum secondary fire damage reduced from 95 to 80
    • Particle Barrier (Self)
      • Cooldown decreased from 10 seconds to 8 seconds
    • Particle Barrier (Ally)
      • Now creates barriers on all allies within 8 meters of your target
      • Duration increased from 2 seconds to 3 seconds

Tidbits

  • Apple’s taking some heat this week for their Mac Pro option that changes its solid feet to a set of wheels
    • The $400 upgrade doesn’t offer any way to lock the wheels, so while it could be decent on the floor it would be a terrible idea to put it on a table or desk
  • In a pretty confusing turn of events, the popular mobile game Plague Inc has been pulled from the iOS App Store in China because authorities say it “includes content that is illegal in China”
    • The strangest part is that it’s been available for years, so the best guess is that it has something to do with the COVID-19 coronavirus, but that still doesn’t really map
  • The United States FTC has announced that it’s sending out refund cheques to people who fell victim to tech support scams
    • The agency will be sending out a total of $1.7M, averaging $30 each, to users tricked into paying for fake tech support from companies like Click4Support
  • Samsung users got a surprise last week, receiving Find My Phone notifications that just said “1”
    • Apparently the alert was an accident- basically someone pressed a button they didn’t mean to and set out the mass notification during an internal test
    • Some users also noticed an odd spike in the app’s battery usage, with no explanation
  • Director Rian Johnson shared some interesting info in a Vanity Fair interview this week- Apple lets you use iPhone in movies, but the bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera

 

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PS2J 286 News – One Click Debt, No Refunds

Free Games

  • PS4

    • BioShock: The Collection

      • 2016
      • Remastered, 1080p ports of all three plot-driven first-person shooter games (BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite), taking you from the depths of Rapture to the skies of Columbia in some great stories in dystopias freed of “petty morality” summed up by “No gods or kings, only man”
    • The Sims 4

      • 2017
      • A reportedly decent port of the classic life simulation series that has you creating characters and households, then living their lives
    • Firewall Zero Hour

      • 2018
      • 4v4 tactical VR shooter developed exclusively for the PSVR that has you seizing or protecting sensitive information from opposing teams
  • Xbox One

    • TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge

      • 2018
      • Motorcycle racing game that has you challenging the deadly Snaefell Mountain course that has you taking on 38 miles of roads at over 180 mph
    • Call of Cthulhu

      • 2018
      • A role-playing psychological horror game inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s writing, while also being an adaptation of the 1981 RPG of the same title
    • Fable Heroes

      • 2012
      • A beat ’em up spinoff of the Fable series, with a toy-like aesthetic and mixed reviews, it’s at least the first family friendly Fable title
    • Star Wars Battlefront

      • 2004
      • The original Battlefront game for the first Xbox, it’s a first and third person shooter that primarily plays as a conquest game with limited respawns for each team and also has a Galactic Conquest mode with some strategy elements
  • Epic Games

    • Farming Simulator 19

      • 2018
      • Pretty much what it says on the tin- it’s a full farming simulator with huge American and European environments, over 300 vehicles and machines, online co-op play, and a surprisingly large mod community
    • Next week we can look forward to PC ports of some popular board games

Apparently Ring isn’t just a product that lets people surveil their neighbours and gives police access to a network of cameras, it also tracks its customers through its app

  • We talked about the Ring camera doorbells and Amazon’s shady agreements with local police to promote the products and get access to recorded footage last summer back in episodes 263 and 268
  • Well now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) put together an investigation of the associated Android app and found it packed with third-party trackers sending out a plethora of personally identifiable information on its customers
    • This stuff includes names, IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent identifiers, and sensor data from the devices themselves
  • All of that info comes together to form a detailed fingerprint of the user that can be sold or used to see what people are doing in their digital lives, and most damning of all is that there is no notification, consent, or ways to mitigate the damage done
  • Ring is taking this information and delivering it to organizations like:
    • Facebook
    • Branch
      • a “deep linking” platform that builds those exact kind of digital fingerprints and associates them with other marketing and analytics data
    • AppsFlyer
      • another marketing data firm that’s now getting their hands on sensor data from all those devices
    • And Mixpanel
      • yet another business analytics service, but this one deserves special mention since Ring is sending them people’s full names, email address, details on your phone’s OS and hardware model, bluetooth settings, and how many locations you have Ring devices installed in
    • Of those services only Mixpanel is on Ring’s list of third-party services they say they work with, but they don’t make it clear just how much information they share
  • All that is to say, for being a company based around securing your home they sure don’t seem to have any consideration for your personal information. If you use a Ring device, it may be time to rethink that

Tesla’s taking heat this week because of their fairly predatory practices when it comes to buying upgrades

  • In a pretty suspicious move, about a week and a half before the end of their financial year Tesla rolled out a new feature in their phone app allowing people to buy software upgrades for their cars to enable full autopilot
  • Shortly afterward, they were hit with a lot of users complaining about unintended purchases and a terrible refund policy
    • In one case someone broke down exactly what happened- they essentially butt dialled the purchase, contacted support as soon as they could afterward and then a week later were told that there are no refunds for software purchases.
      • The support staff even compared it to “paying for an addition to a house, deciding you don’t like it, then requesting a refund from the contractor”
      • There are even some staff claiming that the upgrade can’t be removed from the car, when it’s basically just an enable/disable flag with no major download or installation involved
    • Eventually someone high-profile enough complained on Twitter and Elon Musk said that the refund situation would be addressed, but who knows if that will roll out to all the little people affected
  • The kicker here is how easy Tesla made it to accidentally make the purchase- it’s harder to download a free app
    • If you’re logged in to the Tesla app and go to the upgrades screen, the $4000 autopilot upgrade is automatically selected, added to your cart, and the payment prompt is immediately displayed
    • You then have two buttons- ApplePay, which would prompt for TouchID, FaceID, or your password, or Pay With Credit Card
      • One thing to note here is that they do have their refund denial policy shown at this point. On a black or very dark grey screen, below those buttons in slightly lighter grey text. All the other text is bright white.
      • Another interesting tidbit is that the refund policy was actually photoshopped off of the screen when it was shown in an investor presentation
    • If you do hit Pay With Credit Card it takes you to a confirmation screen with everything filled out- they don’t even ask for your card’s security code to verify, you just tap Pay at the bottom.
    • So if you’re in the Tesla app and put your phone in your pocket without locking it, whether by mistake or not, you’re three taps away from dropping $4000 without even knowing it
    • There are even some reports that the confirmation screen is new- some users last year just wanted to see the total with tax and were immediately charged
  • In investigating this I also stumbled upon some of the skeezy strategies Tesla has used on their website- when you look at the price of a car they default to showing it adjusted for “potential savings”
    • You might see that and expect some kind of rebates or sales, but in fact they bundle in the estimated savings from not buying gas for the life of the car, making a difference of thousands of dollars between the expected price and what Tesla actually charges for their vehicles.
  • All of this just really goes to show how Tesla seems to be trying to trick people into spending money, and the fact that it’s right before their fiscal year end makes it even more suspicious

The Wawa chain of American convenience stores was targeted by credit card skimming malware last month, resulting in as many as 30M cards going up for sale on the dark web this week

  • Apparently the malware began rolling out on March 4th and wasn’t discovered until December 10th, so it had gathered about nine full months worth of numbers, names, and expiration dates
  • Anyone who used a payment card at a Wawa location last year should definitely check your bills closely. Wawa is reportedly offering affected customers one year of credit monitoring but those services may not be very effective, so if you’re concerned you may want to consider putting a security freeze on your file instead

Tidbits

  • Activision Blizzard makes exclusive streaming deal with YouTube, Overwatch League and Call of Duty will be streaming on YouTube
  • 343 Industries is looking to ban Halo: Reach players abusing the experience system by frequently joining games and not actually playing
    • Apparently the new release of Reach involves a new experience progression system to unlock customizations, rather than the old system where you could just buy whatever you have enough credits for, and going AFK is one strategy players are using to grind for more experience
    • Another has been dubbed “sword lining”, where two Griffball teams line up and take turns killing each other with swords
  • Bethesda has finally fully addressed the inventory hack in Fallout 76 that we talked about last year, wherein hackers could use your inventory like a lootable chest to steal everything from your character in seconds
    • Reportedly the company is creating clones of the affected characters with their entire inventory as of December 20th, as well as about $66 worth of their premium ‘atoms’ currency.
    • Players can then make a secure trade from the clone to their original character via a private server, and Bethesda is providing support agents to help with that process
  • Zuckerberg has gone on record that Facebook’s goal for the next decade “isn’t to be liked, but to be understood”, saying they didn’t always communicate their views clearly because they worried about offending people
    • The Daring Fireball says it best: “The more you understand Facebook, the less you like or trust them. So: mission accomplished.”
  • Nintendo’s Switch has officially become their third best-selling home console of all time, behind the Wii and the NES (and almost quadrupling the WiiU)
    • Fun fact, estimates show they surpassed the Xbox One during the 2019 holiday season despite the XBone being out for more than three years before the Switch’s release
    • And just to tack on to the end of this, The Outer Worlds is officially coming to the Switch on March 6th
  • Lastly, in a little bit of heartwarming news to close things out, professional Fortnite player and streamer Aydan Conrad went on Twitch last week to stream himself calling his mom and paying off her student debt
    • He gave full credit to his viewers, saying that everyone watching made the whole thing possible

Based on this tweet, I want to know what ten games our Fanily like. See how much crossover we all have.

And I can see some cool games to check out as well
I like top tens with no order, it all depends on mood.

Josh’s Top 10

  • Rollercoaster Tycoon
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Psyconauts
  • Overwatch
  • Slay The Spire
  • Fallout 4
  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate
  • Stardew Valley
  • Minecraft
  • The Sims

Alan’s Top 10

  • Eternal Darkness Sanity’s Requiem
  • Shovel Knight Treasure Trove
  • Kirby Superstar (honourable mention to Planet Robobot)
  • Pokemon Trading Card Game
  • God of War (2019)
  • Beat Saber
  • Titanfall 2
  • Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (honourable mention to A Link to the Past)
  • Superhot
  • Black Mesa

 

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Free game

  • Epic Games

    • The Bridge

      • 2013
      • Winner of the 2012 Indie Game Challenge awards for Achievement in Art Direction and Achievement in Gameplay
      • Billed as Isaac Newton meets M.C. Escher, The Bridge is a logic puzzle game that has you manipulating gravity and exploring impossible architectures

More details on the FBI/Apple encryption argument, courtesy of Daring Fireball

  • The GrayKey device doesn’t actually break an iPhone’s encryption, it just exploits software flaws to remove the password attempt limit and then brute-forces it
  • That does mean that it will depend on the passcode used on the devices
    • A four digit passcode would take about 7 minutes
    • Six digits takes on average 11 hours
    • Eight is 46 days
    • Ten would take 12.5 years
    • If the passcode uses numbers and letters, then a six character passcode would take about 72 years to guess
  • So it’s a little unfair of us to say that the FBI can definitely crack the devices involved in crimes. On the plus side, that means if you use a passcode with both numbers and letters your data remains safe while Apple refuses to hand over a back door

Early adopters of Google’s Stadia platform, that paid $170 plus a monthly subscription for the privilege of testing the service, are starting to get chapped with the lack of updates

  • The service has been out for two months and still falls short of many of Google’s promises
  • The idea was that you could pay a subscription to play triple-A games in your browser, but at the moment the only access is available by buying the Premiere Edition which uses a special controller and a Chromecast Ultra
  • Meanwhile Google has gone largely silent, giving no word on when people can expect some of the promised features or highly anticipated releases
    • The Stadia doesn’t have voice chat, which even the Switch has an attempt at
    • Games promising 4K resolutions still aren’t hitting that target
    • Integration with YouTube doesn’t have a date for release
    • No word on when players can expect cross-platform gaming, either
    • And the big one, the promised free base version of the service, is still completely uncertain
      • This is the big sore spot, with a lot of people saying that the service could work really well for demo or trial versions if they didn’t have to pay a premium for access
  • So far it’s a subscription-based digital storefront with 26 games, only one of which is an exclusive- the other 25 are already available for other consoles, in many cases for less money
  • It really hammers home the Google philosophy- release services in beta, let them simmer for a few years, and then see if you still have a userbase. Then flip a coin on whether or not to shut it down anyway

Sony’s quietly launched a $40 controller attachment that turns any Dualshock 4 into a pro controller

  • The DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment plugs in to the bottom of the controller and, adding only a little weight, gives you two paddles on the back sitting naturally under your middle or ring fingers, so that you can press buttons without having your thumbs leave the analog sticks
  • One really nice thing about the added device is it works with no extra configuration or drivers- on your PS4, PC, wherever, the controller just now has two extra programmable buttons that can act as any of the other buttons on the controller
  • And the easiest part is that it actually has an OLED touchscreen on the back of the device where you can assign the buttons and save up to three profiles, all configurable on the device itself
  • Unfortunately it’s proven to be very popular- it was released the day of recording and it’s already sold out at multiple stores, with Amazon’s only remaining offering being sold at an extra $10 premium
  • All in all it sounds like a pretty slick device, and though it’s coming kind of late in the PS4’s lifespan there’s speculation that the DualShock 5 will have extra buttons and Sony has said the PS5 will be backward-compatible with all the PS4’s accessories

According to their latest app updates, EA is fully retiring their Tetris apps for iOS and Android

  • As of April 21, 2020, they’re shutting things down so that, from the sounds of it, even people who have kept the apps installed won’t be able to run them
  • People looking for their Tetris fix won’t have to look far though- The Tetris Co. announced that they have a new version available as a free download on both the App Store and Google Play
    • It’s pretty bare bones, with one game mode and control scheme compared to EA’s three modes and two methods of control, but they promise that this is just a foundation for much more to come
    • They also have plans to bring Tetris Royale, a mobile adaptation of the Switch’s Tetris 99, out of beta and into full release
    • Unfortunately at the moment the new core game developed by N3twork is pretty choked with ads, and the in-app purchase to remove them is $7, so with all that working against it the reviews are looking grim- 1 star in the app store, and the Google Play store has reviews complaining of bad controls and required internet connectivity.
      • It sounds playable, but a large step back from EA’s mobile Tetris games

Last week we asked:

With Byleth, being the final character to the first DLC Fighters Pack, who do you want to see in the next one?
Looking for a realistic answer, and a fantasy pick.
Let us guess which is which!
Listening to Remember The Game, Adam Blank’s retro gaming podcast
  • Dovahkiin
    • The Dragonborn from Skyrim
    • Would made a neat level and great soundtrack addition
  • With the addition of the Altair costume for Mii Fighters, is Ezio on the horizon?

Tidbits

  • Designers of the Jaws Board Game and Disney’s Villainous are working on a horror board game based on The Shining
  • Adobe Flash’s days continue to be numbered, with the latest Safari browser beta explicitly ending support for the web plugin
    • At the moment it’s disabled by default, but can still be installed and manually activated. S