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DC5n United States software in english 192 articles, created at 2021-07-01 00:02 articles set mostly positive rate 6.2
(5.46/6)  1 
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iOS 15 is official, and you can get the public beta version now

New iOS 15 software is official and coming soon, with a variety of enhancements and new features for the Apple iPhone. Here's everything you need to know. 2021-06-30 19:38 6KB www.digitaltrends.com

(4.07/6)  2 
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PS Plus Games for July: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, A Plague Tale: Innocence

Last chance to download PS Plus games for June 2021-06-30 20:10 2KB news.softpedia.com

(3.07/6)  3 
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The Most Anticipated Game Releases of July 2021

A truly prosperous month for the gaming industry 2021-06-30 20:36 3KB news.softpedia.com

(2.10/6)  4 
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Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

Affordable 5G in a sturdy package 2021-06-30 18:44 11KB uk.pcmag.com

(2.10/6)  5 
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Windows 11 Creates Electronic Garbage?

Windows 11 Creates Electronic Garbage? If you have yet to figure out what will be required of your computer to run Windows 11, then Ars Technica's breakdown 2021-06-30 17:47 3KB pcper.com

(2.06/6)  6 
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Official renders of Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Classic leaked online

We already know that Samsung Galaxy Watch4 and Watch4 Active will be Samsung’s first two smartwatches that will be powered by WearOS. Last week, the official renders of the upcoming Galaxy Watch4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Active were leaked online. Today, Galaxy Watch4 Classic from Samsung’s upcoming lineup got leaked. The Galaxy Watch4 Classic will be […] 2021-06-30 18:45 1KB mspoweruser.com

(2.05/6)  7 
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Microsoft acquires AT&T networking tech to bolster its Azure for Operators strategy

Microsoft and AT&T are expanding their existing partnership around 5G and edge computing. 2021-06-30 16:47 2KB www.zdnet.com

(2.04/6)  8 
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Bloober Team reportedly working on a Silent Hill project

In a new partnership, Bloober Team will be teaming up with Konami, publishers of Silent Hill, to reportedly create a new game in the franchise. 2021-06-30 18:16 1KB mspoweruser.com

(2.02/6)  9 
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What’s new on Peacock in July 2021

Here's what's new on Peacock in July 2021. You'll find the premiere of the original series Dr. Death, as well as plenty of Olympics coverage and documentaries. 2021-06-30 19:33 1KB www.digitaltrends.com

(1.06/6)  10 
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The Best Cheap Phones for 2021

Looking for a new phone that won't wipe out your bank account? Whether you want a flip phone or a smartphone, we've gathered the best budget-friendly handsets on the market for less than $300. 2021-06-30 18:58 6KB uk.pcmag.com

(1.05/6)  11 
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ADT Medical Alert Plus

ADT offers fast in-home alerts, but few frills 2021-06-30 19:38 6KB uk.pcmag.com

(1.05/6)  12 
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Blizzard details Diablo 4 customization options and new enemies

Diablo 4 will have new character customization options for players to use to create their own looks and style. 2021-06-30 18:18 2KB www.digitaltrends.com

(1.04/6)  13 
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The Best Free PC and Console Games to Claim in July 2021

You love video games, but you're not made of money. Lucky for you, game studios and subscription services offer a handful of free titles every month. Don't miss out. Here's what you can download in July. 2021-06-30 17:08 21KB uk.pcmag.com

(1.02/6)  14 
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Microsoft wasn't joking about the Dev Channel not enforcing hardware checks: Windows 11 pops up on Pi, mobile phone

So what's with the TPM malarky? 2021-06-30 20:28 3KB www.theregister.com

(1.02/6)  15 
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This week's Edge Dev build enables Tab Groups by default, adds Collections integration

Microsoft has released Edge Dev 93.0.933.1 that enables the Tab Groups feature by default. The firm is also adding the ability to send these groups directly into a Collections list, and more. 2021-06-30 20:08 2KB www.neowin.net

(1.02/6)  16 
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Android Users Are Getting Closer to an iMessage-Like App

With AT&T signing on to bring RCS to its Android phones, Verizon is the last hold-out. 2021-06-30 19:55 3KB gizmodo.com

(1.02/6)  17 
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Best Lenovo Chromebooks for June 2021: Yoga, Duet, and more

In this buying guide we run down the best Chromebooks and Chromeboxes you can buy from Lenovo. Different price tiers are explored. 2021-06-30 19:00 8KB www.xda-developers.com

(1.02/6)  18 
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Slack announces scheduled send, video messages and huddle audio chat

Slack today announced three new brand-new features that are not available on Microsoft Teams. Read about the new features below. 1) Huddles: https://d34u8crftukxnk.cloudfront.net/slackpress/prod/sites/6/05_Huddles_2x.mp4 Scheduling meetings is a huge task. Even to have a quick 10-mins casual conversation, we need to send a meeting invite so that the others can join. Slack huddles are a lightweight […] 2021-06-30 17:31 1KB mspoweruser.com

(1.02/6)  19 
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Slack Introduces Huddles for When You Just Want a Quick Chat

Paying Slack users can start a huddle with a single click and anyone can join in. 2021-06-30 15:15 2KB uk.pcmag.com

(1.01/6)  20 
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Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G wins the 'Best Smartphone Award' at GLOMO 2021

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G beat the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, OnePlus 9 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, and Galaxy S20 FE 5G to win the accolade at Global Mobile (GLOMO) Awards held at Barcelona. 2021-06-30 19:52 2KB www.neowin.net

(1.01/6)  21 
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Parrot’s 4G-connected Anafi Ai drone is the Google Maps car of the skies

Parrot's new 4G-connected Anafi Ai drone has no range limits and a powerful camera for breathtaking photography. 2021-06-30 19:25 3KB www.digitaltrends.com

(1.01/6)  22 
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Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series of Final Fantasy 1-3 will be released on July 28

The first three entries in the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series will be released on July 28. 2021-06-30 19:04 2KB www.vg247.com

(1.01/6)  23 
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Rumored OLED iPad Air could outshine iPad Pro, confuse buyers

Last year, Apple gave us a confusing dilemma when choosing between the iPad Air and iPad Pro. A new report suggests that decision is about to get tricky again. 2021-06-30 19:00 3KB www.digitaltrends.com

(1.01/6)  24 
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Latest PUBG update takes a page out of Call of Duty: Warzone’s playbook

PUBG players will be able to revive themselves with a new item, another feature that was seemingly borrowed from other battle royale titles. 2021-06-30 18:01 2KB www.digitaltrends.com

(1.01/6)  25 
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GitHub's Copilot Is an OpenAI-Powered Coding Partner

GitHub's new Copilot feature uses artificial intelligence to help programmers while they code. 2021-06-30 17:22 2KB uk.pcmag.com

(1.01/6)  26 
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iPhone 12 series reached 100 million sales milestone two months faster than the iPhone 11

The global research firm said cumulative iPhone 12 sales crossed the 100 million unit mark in April 2021. 2021-06-30 17:13 1KB www.techspot.com

(1.01/6)  27 
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Xiaomi announces Mi Notebook Pro X 15 with OLED display and 11th gen Intel processors

Chinese OEM Xiaomi today announced its latest flagship laptop, the Mi Notebook Pro X 15. The main highlight of Mi Notebook Pro X 15 is its 15-inch 3.5K E4 OLED with 600-nits brightness, 100% DCI-P3 color support and the Corning Gorilla glass protection. The Mi Notebook Pro X 15 also features a premium build quality […] 2021-06-30 16:37 1KB mspoweruser.com

(0.90/6)  28 
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How a Programmer Developed a Perfect Flower Recognition App

Machine learning gives us the power to do many remarkable things — even the ability to identify flowers from a simple photo! Learn how it's all done here. 2021-06-30 19:33 3KB dzone.com

(0.20/6)  29 
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All working Bubble Gum Simulator codes for free luck and hatch speed [June 2021]

Looking for Bubble Gum Simulator codes? Our up-to-date list has all the working Bubble Gum Simulator codes for luck, shiny chances, and more 2021-06-30 15:57 2KB www.vg247.com

(0.16/6)  30 
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All working Brookhaven codes for music [June 2021]

Looking for more Brookhaven music to shake up your game? Our up-to-date Brookhaven music codes list has everything you need. 2021-06-30 16:08 2KB www.vg247.com

(0.06/6)  31 
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The Best 75-Inch (and up) TVs for 2021

Why stop at a 65-inch TV when you can go even larger? Whether you're looking for a 75-inch or even an 85-inch panel, these are the big-screen TVs we've tested. 2021-06-30 17:59 7KB uk.pcmag.com

(0.06/6)  32 
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The best cheap MacBook deals, sales and prices in June 2021

We're scouring the web for the best cheap MacBook sales and deals so you can pick up a luxury laptop for less. 2021-06-30 15:44 9KB www.techradar.com

(0.04/6)  33 
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Satya Nadella on LinkedIn: Millions are using a free skills program to find unexpected career

As the world recovers from COVID-19, skilling displaced workers will be more important than ever. These stories are inspiring examples of the millions ... 2021-06-30 17:48 1KB www.linkedin.com

(0.03/6)  34 
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Chromebooks vs laptops: which is the best for students?

We pit Chromebooks versus laptops to see which is the best for students, professionals, and casual users. 2021-06-30 18:21 7KB www.techradar.com

(0.03/6)  35 
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Windows 11 Ruins the “Show Desktop” Button, Hopefully Just a Glitch

“Show Desktop” button on the taskbar now just a thin line 2021-06-30 17:03 2KB news.softpedia.com

(0.03/6)  36 
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The best mobile VPN apps 2021

Online freedom shouldn’t end at home – download the very best mobile VPN app to keep you safe when you’re out and about. 2021-06-30 16:11 8KB www.techradar.com

(0.02/6)  37 
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The Best Rugged Laptops for 2021

Ordinary notebooks are 98-pound weaklings next to the drop-tested survivalists known as rugged laptops. Whether you're getting wet or getting your hands dirty, these machines shrug off abuse and stay productive in the worst environments. We tested to find the best. 2021-06-30 20:10 10KB uk.pcmag.com

(0.02/6)  38 
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Horizon Forbidden West release date, trailer, news and rumors

Horizon Forbidden West is the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn. Here's everything you need to know. 2021-06-30 18:21 13KB www.techradar.com

(0.02/6)  39 
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Fortnite Season 7 Week 4 Alien Artifact Locations Guide

In this Fortnite Season 7 Week 4 Alien Artifact Locations Guide, we'll be guiding you to the new Alien Artifacts for Kymera upgrades 2021-06-30 17:46 2KB segmentnext.com

(0.02/6)  40 
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Save 70% off on a lifetime subscription to Lightkey Pro

With today's highlighted deal, you can bag a lifetime subscription to AI-powered text predictions in 85 languages, let this app takes your typing experience to the next level via Neowin Deals. 2021-06-30 17:46 2KB www.neowin.net

(0.02/6)  41 
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Halo Infinite isn't a 'make or break' title for the franchise, says Phil Spencer

Phil Spencer says he is confident in Halo Infinite but that the future of the franchise doesn’t depend on this one game. 2021-06-30 17:24 3KB www.techradar.com

(0.02/6)  42 
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How much does a POS system cost? What you need to know about software & hardware prices

Budgeting for a point of sale system? Here’s a rundown of the key components of POS solutions and how much they cost. 2021-06-30 17:06 6KB www.techradar.com

(0.02/6)  43 
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Best blogging sites of 2021: Free and paid blog platforms

Take a look out our picks for the best blogging sites, free and paid options. Any of these will help kickstart your blogging adventure 2021-06-30 16:50 9KB www.techradar.com

(0.02/6)  44 
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Best cloud storage services of 2021

We've reviewed dozens of the best cloud storage providers, but which one is best? 2021-06-30 16:30 11KB www.techradar.com

(0.02/6)  45 
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Game writer Sam Maggs is your host for the 2021 Game Developers Choice Awards

Bestselling game, TV, and comics writer Sam Maggs is your host for the 2021 Game Developers Choice Awards. 2021-06-30 16:08 2KB www.gamasutra.com

(0.02/6)  46 
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Room 8 Group opens Montreal studio to offer external support to more developers

Room 8 Group has opened a new studio in Canada to provide creative, development, and management services to development partners working on free-to-pl 2021-06-30 15:54 2KB www.gamasutra.com

(0.02/6)  47 
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Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield on the future of remote work

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield responds to Apple's hybrid work model and what the future of remote work will look like. 2021-06-30 15:48 779Bytes www.cnbc.com

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Google is creating new synergies between Workspace apps

Google is on a mission to improve the interoperability of its Workspace apps and services. 2021-06-30 15:32 2KB www.techradar.com

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Mars First Logistics looks like the game Death Stranding wishes it was

Mars First Logistics, the latest game from Melbourne-based Ian McClarty, is a game about making deliveries in a harsh environment. 2021-06-30 20:33 4KB www.thumbsticks.com

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LG prices its QNED mini-LED TVs starting at $2,000

LG has finally announced the official rollout of its QNED Mini-LED TVs. There are 4K and 8K models in three sizes. All six models will hit stores by July. 2021-06-30 20:32 2KB www.digitaltrends.com

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Amazon Releases Cowardly Statement, Is Clearly Afraid of FTC Chair

The tech giant thinks that Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission's new chairwoman, has been too critical of its practices in the past. Sweet. 2021-06-30 20:30 3KB gizmodo.com

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CDC Stands by Masking Guidelines, Says Vaccinated Americans Are Safe From Delta Variant

The CDC's Rochelle Walensky said the agency won't change its guidance on vaccinated people not needing to wear masks in most situations. 2021-06-30 20:29 5KB gizmodo.com

 53 
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Apricorn launches largest ever external SSD - and it's an absolute whopper

An ultra-secure 20 TB portable SSD to help you keep data away from prying eyes. 2021-06-30 20:24 2KB www.techradar.com

 54 
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Games with Gold: Conker: Live and Reloaded and Planet Alpha are now free

The Planet Alpha and Conker: Live and Reloaded are now available as freebies for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members. The two lands as part of the July Games with Gold. 2021-06-30 20:24 2KB www.neowin.net

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Play Game Boy cartridges on your computer with this $50 accessory

Epilogue likens the GB Operator to a cartridge slot for your computer. With it, users can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance cartridges... 2021-06-30 20:22 1KB www.techspot.com

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Hayao Miyazaki's Glorious Lupin III Movie Is Coming to Theaters in 4K

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro was Miyazaki's first in the director's chair, and still remains one of the beloved Ghibli legend's finest movies. 2021-06-30 20:20 3KB gizmodo.com

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Every true wireless earbud feature explained

There are now hundreds of models of true wireless earbuds available, from $25 to $400. Learn about the features that will matter most to you before you buy. 2021-06-30 20:18 14KB www.digitaltrends.com

 58 
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Staples is practically giving away the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 right now

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 has a hinge that allows you to manipulate its 14-inch touchscreen into several shapes, including a tent and tablet. 2021-06-30 20:17 2KB www.digitaltrends.com

 59 
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Roku to Kick Off Its Own Slate of Originals With ‘The Demi Lovato Show’

The show represents the first in a wave of new shows set to premiere on the Roku Channel 2021-06-30 20:16 2KB uk.pcmag.com

 60 
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Pokemon Go Bidoof Special Research Branching Quest

Trainers, the Bidoof Day event is underway and a new free event-exclusive Special Research story and branching quest are now available for all players. 2021-06-30 20:16 4KB www.futuregamereleases.com

 61 
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Does the Nintendo Switch have Bluetooth?

Does the Nintendo Switch have Bluetooth wireless technology? If so, how do you connect Bluetooth headphones, controllers, or other accessories? 2021-06-30 20:10 2KB www.gamerevolution.com

 62 
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Surprise, surprise! Microsoft exec says the government is spying on you

Intelligence agencies may have begun life as a good idea -- a way to keep their respective countries safe -- and in the beginning we mostly trusted them. But their overt secrecy soon became apparent with things like the famous Roswell incident and the best known 2021-06-30 20:03 2KB betanews.com

 63 
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Windows 11 did away with folder icon thumbnails, and we did not even notice

When Microsoft introduced new folder icons for what turned out to be Windows 11, the long-awaited design update was much lauded, such that we did not even notice that we were losing a major feature. It turns out the new shell icons in Windows 11 no longer show previews of the content of the folders. […] 2021-06-30 20:00 1KB mspoweruser.com

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Aliens Is Back, Fireteam Elite Drops On August 24th

Aliens Is Back, Fireteam Elite Drops On August 24th A serious decline in quality over the lifetime of a series has not stopped game developers from developing 2021-06-30 19:59 2KB pcper.com

 65 
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Shopify Launches Online Store Version 2.0

​Shopify is currently hosting its Unite conference and has announced the release of v 2.0 of the company’s online store. With this update, Shopify has unlocked new opportunities for developers to build platform experiences and themes. The company has also provided guidance for upgrading themes. 2021-06-30 19:57 2KB www.programmableweb.com

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This is the Google Pixel Buds deal you’ve been waiting for

Staples has a great deal on the Google Pixel Buds live right now. It's an opportunity to get the wireless earbuds and charging case for cheap. 2021-06-30 19:57 2KB www.digitaltrends.com

 67 
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Deal Alert: Surface Book 3 i5(8GB+256GB) is $200 cheaper today

Amazon is offering a handsome $200 discount on Microsoft Surface Book 3. The i5 variant of the Book 3(8GB+512GB) is now available at a price point of $1,399.00, down from $1,599.99. If you do the math, that’s an impressive $200.99 discount! The design of the Surface Book 3 remains the same, however, Microsoft has upgraded […] 2021-06-30 19:42 1KB mspoweruser.com

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Right-Wing Media Outraged Energy Secretary Mentions Climate Change and Miami Condo Collapse

Secretary Granholm said that sea level rise may have played a role in Surfside's recent condo building collapse. Conservatives are freaking out. 2021-06-30 19:41 4KB gizmodo.com

 69 
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Google Pay can securely store your COVID-19 vaccine info

The Google Passes API has been updated so you can access your COVID-19 vaccine passport or testing status from Google Pay on your phone. 2021-06-30 19:39 2KB www.xda-developers.com

 70 
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Warhammer Vermintide 2 Update Adds Sister of the Thorn, Chaos Wastes to Consoles

The update is available for PlayStation and Xbox platforms 2021-06-30 19:32 2KB news.softpedia.com

 71 
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Far-Right Site Gab Is Very Mad Their Favorite One-Term President Passed on Them

Gab's CEO, Andrew Torba, immediately spun up an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory to explain why Donald Trump joined video site Rumble instead. 2021-06-30 19:31 7KB gizmodo.com

 72 
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Remedy Entertainment working on two new Control games

Remedy has announced that they’re working on two new Control Games, in a publishing and development agreement with 505 Games. 2021-06-30 19:25 1KB mspoweruser.com

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Best audio PC in 2021: Digital Audio Workstations and audiophile machines

Looking for the best audio PCs and laptops? We list the top Digital Audio Workstations money can buy. 2021-06-30 19:21 6KB www.techradar.com

 74 
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A new, gay Captain America can’t save United States of Captain America #1

Marvel Comics’ new series The United States of Captain America has Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson/the Falcon hunting down a killer who preys on — people who call themselves Captain America! 2021-06-30 19:17 1KB www.polygon.com

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FPS documentary will capture the history of first-person shooter games

CreatorVC launched a Kickstarter campaign for its film FPS: First Person Shooter, which will chronicle first-person shooter games. 2021-06-30 19:15 3KB venturebeat.com

 76 
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Loki and The Simpsons Team Up in Disney's New Corporate Synergy Stunt

Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as Loki in a new Disney+ Simpsons short. 2021-06-30 19:15 2KB gizmodo.com

 77 
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Apple Tips International Collection Bands for Apple Watch Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

The national-themed Sport Loop bands arrive just in time for the rescheduled games. 2021-06-30 19:14 2KB uk.pcmag.com

 78 
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5 things I love about returning to the OnePlus 9 Pro, and 1 I want to love more

Three months after its release, I've returned to the OnePlus 9 Pro for a week to find five things that I love, and one that still needs attention. 2021-06-30 19:11 7KB www.digitaltrends.com

 79 
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What we can learn from Google’s cookie deprecation delay

Google threw speed bumps at the digital media industry Thursday when it pushed back third-party cookie deprecation by nearly two years. 2021-06-30 19:10 4KB venturebeat.com

 80 
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Intel quietly delays next generation 'Sapphire Rapids' Xeon processors

Intel pushes the launch of its next-generation of data center processors to 2022. 2021-06-30 19:03 2KB www.techradar.com

 81 
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iOS 15: How to use the radically new Safari browser

Using Safari after upgrading to iOS 15 can be disorienting. We'll walk you though the changes so you can quickly feel at home again. 2021-06-30 19:01 5KB www.macworld.com

 82 
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The Forever Purge is a solid thriller until it falls into the tropes it’s mocking

In the Forever Purge, the fifth movie in the long-running Purge franchise, the thrills are as good as ever, but the social commentary falls short, as a story about undocumented immigrants is ultimately more interested in their white employers. Opens in theaters on Friday, July 2, 2021 2021-06-30 19:00 1KB www.polygon.com

 83 
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Life Under Antarctica Is Surviving on Pulverized Rock

Crushed rock pulled from deep below the ice let loose methane, ammonium, and other compounds Antarctic organisms rely on. 2021-06-30 18:52 4KB gizmodo.com

 84 
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Grounded Shroom and Doom update patch notes

Check out all of the new additions and changes made to Grounded with the full list of Shroom and Doom update patch notes. 2021-06-30 18:45 2KB www.gamerevolution.com

 85 
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Robinhood to Pay $70 Million Fine for Harming 'Millions of Consumers'

The FINRA investigation cites numerous instances of Robinhood either misleading users of the app or failing to stop outages that prevented trades from going through. 2021-06-30 18:45 3KB uk.pcmag.com

 86 
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Epson DS-530 II Color Duplex Document Scanner

Highly accurate scanning to a single workstation 2021-06-30 18:34 5KB uk.pcmag.com

 87 
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5 lines of code allowed attackers to wipe tons of data from popular hard drive

After a series of attacks last week, Western Digital says there's another exploit impacting My Book Live and My Book Live Duo hard drives. 2021-06-30 18:34 3KB www.digitaltrends.com

 88 
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51 New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books to Add to Your Reading List in July

In the mood for some page-turning? We've got you covered with tons of new genre fiction (and a few non-fiction picks too). 2021-06-30 18:30 14KB gizmodo.com

 89 
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The Best Bluetooth Trackers for 2021

Are you constantly looking for your keys, wallet, phone, or remote? End the hunt with one of our top-tested Bluetooth trackers. 2021-06-30 18:29 6KB uk.pcmag.com

 90 
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Should I buy a Chromebook?

Opting for a Chromebook could save you a lot of cash – provided it has everything you need. 2021-06-30 18:27 5KB www.techradar.com

 91 
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Airbnb's Flexible Destinations feature is now live

Airbnb will now allow its users to search for unique places to stay with Flexible Destinations. This feature combines with Flexible Dates and Flexible Matching to make traveling easier. 2021-06-30 18:24 1KB www.neowin.net

 92 
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You'll be able to find a cheaper RTX 3080 soon, but you shouldn't buy one yet - here's why

Cryptominers in China are selling off large quantities of Nvidia RTX and AMD Radeon graphics cards on the second-hand market, indicating that cryptomining demand is plummeting. 2021-06-30 18:16 4KB www.techradar.com

 93 
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This time its real – Windows 11 running on the Lumia 950XL (video)

Last week we incorrectly reported that Windows 11 had been ported to the Lumia 950XL, but the developer of the Windows 10 on the Lumia 950XL project reported that this was just a premature tease, but that a proper solution would not be long away. Today Gustave Monce delivered, posted a video of the venerable […] 2021-06-30 18:13 1KB mspoweruser.com

 94 
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Four Predictions for Data Intelligence and the Consumer Identity Challenge

What is the future for data intelligence, and how can brands solve the consumer identity challenge while remaining privacy compliant? 2021-06-30 18:01 5KB www.eweek.com

 95 
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Sharpen & Speed Up Your PC Games: Testing AMD's FSR, Nvidia's DLSS 2.2 & More

Sharpening, supersampling, or upscaling with technologies like AMD's new FidelityFX Super Resolution and Nvidia's DLSS 2.2 can supercharge your games' speed and looks. Here's everything you need to know about the latest game-boosting tech. 2021-06-30 17:59 34KB uk.pcmag.com

 96 
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The Best TVs for Gaming

A responsive television with low input lag can mean the difference between winning and losing. Whether you use a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series S/X (or any other game console or PC), these are the best gaming TVs we've tested. 2021-06-30 17:59 8KB uk.pcmag.com

 97 
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How to Deploy and Scale AI Analytics Across Your Enterprise

AI analytics unlocks effective bottom-up decision-making, while frontline teams are likely to find themselves entrusted with even greater decision-making authority and influence. 2021-06-30 17:58 7KB www.eweek.com

 98 
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No, it’s not just you – Google Analytics went down for a while

No, your server and site is OK and all your traffic has not just evaporated. Google Analytics appears to have gone down briefly, and real time tracking is currently unreliable. The issue has caused a lot of panic amongst site owners, but it appears to be confined to traffic monitoring. Google Analytics real time tracking […] 2021-06-30 17:53 1KB mspoweruser.com

 99 
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Dueling Jungle Cruise Trailers Pit Emily Blunt Against Dwayne Johnson

The Disneyland-inspired action adventure comes to theaters and Disney+ on July 30 2021-06-30 17:50 2KB gizmodo.com

 100 
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Samsung 55-Class Q70A QLED TV (QN55Q70AAFXA)

The fastest TV for gaming 2021-06-30 17:48 10KB uk.pcmag.com

 101 
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Box CEO Aaron Levie: CIOs are driving significant digital transformation

Aaron Levie, CEO and co-founder of Box on a renaissance in enterprise software and IT and accelerated digital business transformation in the next normal. 2021-06-30 17:43 6KB www.zdnet.com

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0.2
GamesBeat Decides: The best (and worst) Metroid games

With Metroid: Dread's recent announcement, we're in the mood to explore this franchise's past. That means it's time for another tier list. 2021-06-30 17:42 1KB venturebeat.com

 103 
0.2
Bluetooth is finally coming to airplane seatback entertainment systems

After years of warning passengers of the dangers of using Bluetooth devices aboard aircraft, United Airlines is adding support for the tech to its entire fleet. 2021-06-30 17:39 2KB www.digitaltrends.com

 104 
0.4
Sea of Thieves Season 3, A Pirate's Life, cross platform, Twitch drops and updates

Here's all the latest news from Rare's Sea of Thieves. 2021-06-30 17:36 4KB www.techradar.com

 105 
0.3
Forza Horizon 5's weather system makes me excited for Fable 4

Forza Horizon 5 is set to have a seasonal, localized weather system. But, with developer Playground Games also working on Fable 4, could we see this feature utilized in the upcoming action RPG? 2021-06-30 17:34 5KB www.techradar.com

 106 
0.6
Amazon announces Echo Dot Kids for UK families

Amazon has revealed its Echo Dot Kids smart speaker which it plans to launch in the United Kingdom next month. The device has been tailored so that it's child-friendly. It'll cost £60 on Amazon. 2021-06-30 17:32 2KB www.neowin.net

 107 
0.3
With watchOS 8, Apple Wants to Help You Chill the Hell Out

Your Apple Watch will soon help you manage your stress. 2021-06-30 17:31 12KB gizmodo.com

 108 
0.0
GTA 6 rumoured to launch in 2025

Unluckily for hopeful Grand Theft Auto fans waiting for the next instalment, GTA 6 is reportedly going to launch in 2025 according to new leaks. 2021-06-30 17:30 2KB mspoweruser.com

 109 
0.2
Switching from a Mac to a Chromebook: Problems and solutions

This tutorial guides you through the process of switching from a Mac to a Chromebook. We discuss shortcuts, modifications, and apps. 2021-06-30 17:30 8KB www.xda-developers.com

 110 
0.6
The Smart Home Isn't Worth It

I'm not willing to jump through all the hoops needed to make my home barely smarter. 2021-06-30 17:30 8KB gizmodo.com

 111 
1.5
Two high-profile Microsoft presidents are leaving the company

Kate Johnson and Toni Townes-Whitley, two high-profile Microsoft presidents, have both announced they're leaving the company 2021-06-30 17:24 2KB www.zdnet.com

 112 
0.7
Google Cloud VMs vulnerable to hijack

Researcher claims vulnerability in key infrastructure can be exploited to gain root access to Google Cloud VMs. 2021-06-30 17:22 2KB www.techradar.com

 113 
0.4
Government Watchdog Finds Most U. S. Agencies Don't Even Know Which Face Recognition Systems They Use

“Thirteen federal agencies do not have awareness of what non-federal systems with facial recognition technology are used by employees,” the report claims. 2021-06-30 17:20 4KB gizmodo.com

 114 
0.0
This Carved Snake May Have Been the Staff of a Stone Age Shaman

Measuring 21 inches long, the 4,400-year-old snake was carved from a single piece of wood. 2021-06-30 17:18 3KB gizmodo.com

 115 
0.1
Wyze Cordless Vacuum Review: Packs a budget-friendly punch

The Wyze Cordless Vacuum is one of the most affordable vacuum cleaners on the market, combining powerful cleaning with effective air filtration. 2021-06-30 17:16 6KB www.digitaltrends.com

 116 
0.0
Phantom Abyss Preview (PC)

Be the first to unlock the secrets of a temple maze 2021-06-30 17:15 2KB news.softpedia.com

 117 
0.6
A series of unfortunate events… Or more? What story the recent cybersecurity attacks could be telling

Recently there has been a dizzying number of major breaches disclosed within just months and sometimes weeks of each other. I’ve been paying close attention and doing a bit of research into the most recent data breaches, especially the more notable ones. The most recent heavily covered incident, the JBS hack, is already having an impact on the food industry. 2021-06-30 17:14 7KB betanews.com

 118 
0.1
The future of interactive characters, part 1/4: Twelve basic principles of behavior

Developers and players agree that innovation in character AI has largely come to a halt. This four-part series is about finding a way forward, and her 2021-06-30 17:11 14KB gamasutra.com

 119 
0.0
Couple Fined $18,000 for Digging Up 36 Endangered Joshua Trees

The duo dug up the iconic trees and then buried them in a hole like some kind of mafia hit on the endangered species. 2021-06-30 17:10 6KB gizmodo.com

 120 
0.9
ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G review

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G is a top-tier phone with good cameras, a great display, solid battery and other features, though its software isn’t the most refined. If you want a flagship for less, this is the one to choose. 2021-06-30 17:09 11KB www.techradar.com

 121 
0.2
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart patch adds 120 Hz display mode

Insomniac Games has released a patch for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, which includes various additions along with some general fixes and polishing. 2021-06-30 17:08 1KB www.vg247.com

 122 
0.6
Windows 11 Features a New File Transfer Progress Indicator You Could Easily Miss

The transfer progress is now indicated in the taskbar 2021-06-30 17:05 2KB news.softpedia.com

 123 
0.3
What Is Clubhouse? The Invite-Only Chat App Explained

This invite-only, audio-based app is like listening in on someone else's phone call, legally. Here's what you need to know about Clubhouse for iPhone and Android, including how Elon Musk figures into its popularity. 2021-06-30 17:02 14KB uk.pcmag.com

 124 
0.5
Five tips for optimizing your IT team's time

Today, IT teams are short-staffed and overworked like never before. And COVID-19 has made IT professionals busier than ever, with record numbers of people working from home and using more technology resources from remote locations. This can lead to additional projects and even more support issues. IT teams are constantly juggling between day-to-day maintenance activities and more strategic, long-term projects that can drive innovation and have a positive impact on an organization. 2021-06-30 17:02 6KB betanews.com

 125 
1.3
Netflix’s America: The Motion Picture fails at just about everything

The cast of America: The Motion Picture is hard to beat: Channing Tatum, Simon Pegg, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, and many others star in this satire of America’s founding. But the script, from Wonder Woman 1984 and Mortal Kombat writer Dave Callaham, is a bunch of references tied together with meta jokes about the story, and nothing more. The animation resembles The Venture Bros., and the director worked on Archer, but the humor is pure Family Guy. Streaming on Netflix now. 2021-06-30 17:01 1KB www.polygon.com

 126 
0.0
Loki episode 4 recap: the best one yet?

The best instalment yet, but who's the real villain in the Loki episode 4? 2021-06-30 17:00 7KB www.techradar.com

 127 
0.5
Sideshow's Dracula and Van Helsing Figures Are Delightfully Frightful

The Hammer Horror legends played by Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing step off the silver screen and onto your toy shelf. 2021-06-30 17:00 3KB gizmodo.com

 128 
0.4
Graphcore brings new competition to Nvidia in latest MLPerf AI benchmarks

Graphcore’s score in BERT natural language training was the best score of any of the two-socket AMD systems submitted. 2021-06-30 17:00 14KB www.zdnet.com

 129 
1.4
Piral, a Modern Microfrontends Library

Piral is a JavaScript library for creating modular microfrontends application based on React. 2021-06-30 17:00 1KB www.infoq.com

 130 
0.1
Microsoft Releases Emergency Windows 10 Cumulative Update KB5004760

Out-of-band cumulative updates for Windows 10 is live 2021-06-30 16:57 2KB news.softpedia.com

 131 
0.3
Fans Believe Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2 Will Be Announced At EA Play Live 2021

The much-anticipated Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2 might be getting officially announced next month, or so do fans believe. 2021-06-30 16:54 2KB segmentnext.com

 132 
0.3
AOC Agon AGM700 Gaming Mouse

A budget FPS mouse that cuts some corners 2021-06-30 16:54 5KB uk.pcmag.com

 133 
3.6
The need for legislative reform on secrecy orders

On June 30, Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security & Trust at Microsoft, testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary. Here's his written testimony and a link to a video of the hearing. 2021-06-30 16:52 791Bytes blogs.microsoft.com

 134 
0.4
Apple goes retro with free downloads of OS X Lion and Mountain Lion

Apple is now offering free copies of Mac OS X Lion and Mountain Lion on its website. Here's how to find them. 2021-06-30 16:49 2KB www.macworld.com

 135 
0.8
Top 10 Jobs APIs for 2021

Developers looking to create applications for job seekers, or for those seeking to fill jobs, should check out the ProgrammableWeb Jobs category for the most suitable APIs. In this article, we highlight the ten most popular APIs from the Jobs category based on website user traffic. 2021-06-30 16:49 5KB www.programmableweb.com

 136 
0.8
Google Play System Update now shows percent progress on the boot animation

During Google Play System Updates, you'll soon be able to see the percent progress of the update being applied while the device is booting. 2021-06-30 16:48 2KB www.xda-developers.com

 137 
0.7
Little Tikes Is Roasting Parents With a 'Peloton' for Kids

The Pelican Explore & Fit Cycle brings the at-home fitness craze to the youth. 2021-06-30 16:45 2KB gizmodo.com

 138 
0.2
Is a Surface Pro 8 coming soon? A new Windows 11 feature adds to the evidence

Is a Surface Pro 8 on the horizon? A new clue is Windows 11's Dynamic Refresh Rate, an inking technology that uses a 120Hz screen. 2021-06-30 16:45 3KB www.pcworld.com

 139 
0.2
Major Linux RPM problem uncovered

Red Hat has used RPM for software package distribution for decades, but we now know RPM contained a nasty hidden security bug since Day One. It's now been unveiled and a repair patch has been submitted. 2021-06-30 16:43 3KB www.zdnet.com

 140 
0.8
To Conserve Battery Life, Windows 11 Can Automatically Adjust a Laptop's Refresh Rate

The feature can seamlessly lower the laptop's refresh rate from 120Hz down to 60Hz, and bring it back up again, depending on what you're doing. 2021-06-30 16:40 2KB uk.pcmag.com

 141 
1.2
Pokemon Go New Bonus Rewards Incoming

Trainers, a big collection of new bonus rewards was discovered in Pokemon Go's GM file, and trust me you're all going to love it. x5 Catch XP?! How does 2021-06-30 16:36 1KB www.futuregamereleases.com

 142 
0.2
The critical role of Zero Trust in securing our world

US Executive Order on Cybersecurity delivers valuable guidance for both public and private organizations to make the world safer for all. 2021-06-30 16:36 7KB www.microsoft.com

 143 
0.8
What’s New in Microsoft Teams

Welcome to the June edition of What’s new in Teams. This was another month where we released several features to make Teams even more useful for you. We 2021-06-30 16:35 20KB techcommunity.microsoft.com

 144 
0.6
Google Launches 'Find Food Support' Tool to Combat Food Insecurity

The search tool includes over 90,000 places for food insecure individuals and families to find assistance. 2021-06-30 16:35 2KB uk.pcmag.com

 145 
0.4
A Man's Penis Broke Vertically During Sex—an Apparent Medical First

The awkward injury was surgically repaired and thankfully didn't lead to lasting disability, UK doctors say. 2021-06-30 16:35 4KB gizmodo.com

 146 
0.8
Media Molecule announces Megapenguin Rehatched, a community-driven tale built in Dreams

Megapenguin is back in Dreams, and this time he's... more buff than ever? 2021-06-30 16:33 4KB www.thumbsticks.com

 147 
0.7
Honor unveils X20 SE smartphone with Dimensity 700 chipset and 5G support

The Honor X20 SE is powered by the Dimensity 700 chipset and comes with 128GB of internal storage. It sports a 6.6-inch Full HD+ LCD and moving around the back, you get a triple camera setup. 2021-06-30 16:32 2KB www.neowin.net

 148 
0.5
Queer readings of The Lord of the Rings are not accidents

Did Rings trilogy author JRR Tolkien write a secret queer romance into the Lord of the Rings? We’ll never know for certain, but a historical read of the 1800s, literature, and the Middle-earth books like the Silmarillion, appendices, and Unfinished Tales tells us one thing: the love is in the text. 2021-06-30 16:26 1KB www.polygon.com

 149 
0.3
Coming to Apple TV+: Negro League Baseball series about Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige

Apple has a lot of original content on the way for its subscription streaming video service. Here's what you'll soon (and eventually) be able to watch. 2021-06-30 16:26 42KB www.macworld.com

 150 
0.3
Fireworks Being Banned as West Suffers Through Record Hot, Dry Weather

Officials are concerned that amid record heat and drought conditions, fireworks pose too much of a wildfire risk. 2021-06-30 16:25 4KB gizmodo.com

 151 
0.2
Sea of Thieves Dark Brethren Journals locations| Where to find the Coral Fortress

If you're looking to nab all the Dark Brethren commendations, you'll need the Sea of Thieves Dark Brethren journals as well 2021-06-30 16:24 3KB www.vg247.com

 152 
0.3
NASA's Hubble telescope has a mystery computer problem. Here's how they are trying to fix it

The 31 years-old Hubble Space Telescope has been on standby for two weeks, and NASA engineers are rushing to figure out what's wrong. 2021-06-30 16:21 7KB www.zdnet.com

 153 
0.1
Motorola Defy rugged smartphone review

An old brand is resurrected to take on a new, burgeoning market but will it work? 2021-06-30 16:20 5KB www.techradar.com

 154 
0.7
Samsung introduces Kiosk for contactless payment and ordering

Samsung has brought a new contactless payment and ordering solution, an all-in-one Kiosk, for its customers. This solution ensures minimal business downtime and is available in 12 countries. 2021-06-30 16:20 2KB www.neowin.net

 155 
0.6
Is Black Widow coming to HBO Max?

Black Widow is out very soon, marking the return of the much-loved Marvel Cinematic Universe. With some theaters still closed, it's left many wondering how they'll watch the film, and which streaming services will broadcast the spy-action thriller. 2021-06-30 16:19 2KB www.gamerevolution.com

 156 
0.5
Iron Harvest interview: A diesel punk vision of an alternate America

Iron Harvest's Operation Eagle DLC brings a new faction to the alternative Earth of 1920+: Usonia, its version of the United States. 2021-06-30 16:17 6KB venturebeat.com

 157 
0.2
Scarlet Nexus Psychokinesis Finish guide| How to do Psychokinesis Finish for Totally Lost

Totally Lost makes you perform three Scarlet Nexus Psychokinesis Finish skills. Here's what that means, how to do it, and which enemies to focus on. 2021-06-30 16:15 2KB www.vg247.com

 158 
0.5
Loki Brings It All Together By Breaking it All Apart

For the moment at least, it would seem that the show's thesis is that there's always strength in numbers. 2021-06-30 16:15 8KB gizmodo.com

 159 
1.6
Season 2 of Knockout City has been detailed within a new roadmap

It will include a new map, a new ball, and five new playlists. 2021-06-30 16:12 863Bytes www.gamereactor.eu

 160 
0.7
Todd Howard reveals The Elder Scrolls 6 still in design phase

In an interview with The Telegraph, Todd Howard revealed that three years after its announcement, The Elder Scrolls 6 is still in its design phase. 2021-06-30 16:09 2KB mspoweruser.com

 161 
0.8
YouTube TV

Still the best way to stream Live TV 2021-06-30 16:09 15KB uk.pcmag.com

 162 
0.5
On the future of work, Apple is in retrograde

Apple denies the new world of remote work in favor of its own somewhat inflexible hybrid working policy. 2021-06-30 16:03 4KB www.computerworld.com

 163 
0.8
These are the best Microsoft Surface PCs: Tablets, laptops, and more

Looking for a new Surface but not sure which one is for you? These are the best Microsoft Surface PCs you can buy for different use cases. 2021-06-30 16:00 8KB www.xda-developers.com

 164 
0.7
The best 4th of July laptop deals: save on Dell, HP, Samsung and more

We're rounding up all the best 4th of July laptop deals in one place, with big savings on Chromebooks, ultra-books and more. 2021-06-30 16:00 1KB www.techradar.com

 165 
0.5
Best ways to share big files in 2021: Cloud sharing large folders made simple

If you need to share big files online, there are various ways to do that, and we highlighted the best of them 2021-06-30 16:00 9KB www.techradar.com

 166 
0.8
GitLab spins out open source data integration platform Meltano

GitLab today announced that it's spinning out open source ELT (extract, load, transform) platform Meltano as a standalone business. 2021-06-30 16:00 7KB venturebeat.com

 167 
0.9
Former Blizzard devs open a new RTS studio for Tencent Games

Tencent Games subsidiary Lightspeed and Quantum Studios Group announced the formation of Uncapped Games Studios. 2021-06-30 16:00 1KB venturebeat.com

 168 
0.3
Best mesh Wi-Fi system 2021: Top routers compared

With remote working and video calls becoming the "new normal," now is a good time to upgrade your Wi-Fi with the latest mesh networking systems for improved coverage. 2021-06-30 16:00 2KB www.zdnet.com

 169 
0.2
WhatsApp Spanish-Language Moderators Allege Pay Discrimination

In an internal letter to Facebook, WhatsApp, and the contract company Accenture, employees claim they've been denied a premium for years. 2021-06-30 16:00 3KB gizmodo.com

 170 
0.6
Get Razer's Basilisk Ultimate gaming mouse and a $50 Steam gift card for just $129.99

For a limited time, you can pick up the Razer Basilisk Ultimate wireless optical gaming mouse with a charging dock for $129.99. Boosting the bundle’s value is... 2021-06-30 15:57 1KB www.techspot.com

 171 
0.5
The RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 are in stock at Newegg Shuffle today – and prices aren't unreasonable

The RTX 3080 GPU is now on sale through the Newegg Shuffle, and these Nvidia GPUs are close to MSRP. Here's the cost. 2021-06-30 15:54 4KB www.techradar.com

 172 
0.8
Million Doge Disco is Pokemon Go meets Tamagotchi with real crypto

Million Doge Disco is an NFT-based mobile game that lets players earn real Dogecoin (DOGE) to make money. Here's the latest on a Million Doge Disco release date so players can start getting crypto via Android and iPhone (iOS). 2021-06-30 15:53 2KB www.gamerevolution.com

 173 
0.8
Tabletop exercises: Six sample scenarios

Tabletop exercises are a low-stress, high-impact way to test your plans for handling a crisis. Here are some tips for getting the most out of the process, plus six scenarios you can use to start your journey. 2021-06-30 15:53 1KB www.csoonline.com

 174 
0.8
Weav Co-Founder Discusses the Challenges of Developing a Universal API for Commerce Platforms

Weav, an API-first fintech infrastructure company, has set out to provide a universal API for commerce platforms and therein simplify the process of extracting valuable e-commerce business data. ProgrammableWeb spoke with Nadav Lidor to discuss Weav’s mission and the challenges it has faced. 2021-06-30 15:52 12KB www.programmableweb.com

 175 
0.6
How employee demands for benefits have evolved — and how to measure up (VB Live)

The pandemic has impacted employee expectations for company benefits in a way that industries cannot back down from. 2021-06-30 15:45 4KB venturebeat.com

 176 
0.2
Playing The Last of Us without music feels too real

All gone. Spoiler warning: This article discusses plot points from throughout The Last of Us and its sequel. The Last of Us, the game that left … 2021-06-30 15:45 4KB www.eurogamer.net

 177 
0.4
Tech firms stay out of the office while Google starts work shuttle buses

Silicon Valley tech firms face a dilemma -- allow staff to work remotely or force staff back into the office and risk losing them. 2021-06-30 15:43 2KB www.zdnet.com

 178 
0.3
Sony Reportedly Wants $25,000 And 30% Earnings To Feature Your PlayStation Indie Game

Sony Interactive Entertainment has been gunning to support the indie scene on PlayStation, or at least based on official statements. 2021-06-30 15:40 2KB segmentnext.com

 179 
0.8
The boss joins Thunderful

From Sega, to PlayStation, to Xbox, and now Thunderful, Agostino Simonetta is joining the Swedish publisher. 2021-06-30 15:38 2KB www.gamereactor.eu

 180 
0.8
Live in Canada? Best Buy to Sell RTX 3000 Graphics Cards in Stores Today

The sales are occurring today, June 30, at 17 Best Buy locations in Canada. But whether the company will resume in-store sales in the US remains unclear. 2021-06-30 15:30 2KB uk.pcmag.com

 181 
0.5
Visual Studio gets several accessibility updates

Software Development News Microsoft released new accessibility features for Visual Studio. The company calls for user feedback in order to achieve the best results. 2021-06-30 15:30 2KB sdtimes.com

 182 
0.4
A Nintendo Switch Online 12 month membership is now over 25% off

Nintendo Switch Online Membership for 12 months is now £12.99 at CD Keys. Find out all the best features about the nintendo membership and how to sign up. 2021-06-30 15:26 3KB www.vg247.com

 183 
0.6
Roll by ADP

Basic, mobile-first payroll from a trusted provider 2021-06-30 15:24 12KB uk.pcmag.com

 184 
0.8
Lord of the Rings on Amazon Prime: release date, cast and what we know

Here's everything you need to know about Amazon's adaptation of Lord of the Rings, including its possible release date. 2021-06-30 15:23 14KB www.techradar.com

 185 
0.2
Escape From Tarkov Players Can No Longer Run Through Bushes in Patch 0.12.11

Escape From Tarkov's patch 0.12.11 has added a new mechanic that will tackle bush wookies. Battlestate Games has decided to prevent players from running 2021-06-30 15:22 1KB www.futuregamereleases.com

 186 
0.8
SD Times news digest: JetBrains Datalore for Enterprise, Google to require all new apps be published with Android App Bundle, MariaDB partners with AWS

Software Development News JetBrains Datalore for Enterprise, Google to require all new apps be published with Android App Bundle, MariaDB partners with AWS. 2021-06-30 15:22 2KB sdtimes.com

 187 
0.6
T-Mobile REVVL V+ 5G Android 11 smartphone costs less than $200

Just yesterday I went to the Verizon store to investigate upgrading my aging iPhone 8 Plus. The company was offering a promotion where I could get an iPhone 12 Pro for free if I switch. While finally having a 5G iPhone excited me, Verizon's service was insanely expensive, so I passed on the 2021-06-30 15:20 2KB betanews.com

 188 
1.2
The Best Webcams for 2021

If you want to look your best in video calls, your laptop's little camera won't cut it. Here's what you need to look for when shopping for the right add-on webcam, along with our product recommendations. 2021-06-30 15:20 1KB uk.pcmag.com

 189 
0.9
Scarlet Nexus gift list| Every gift for each Scarlet Nexus character

If you're looking to raise your Scarlet Nexus bond levels or earn the gift trophy, our comprehensive companion gift list is here to help. 2021-06-30 15:10 2KB www.vg247.com

 190 
0.9
Top 7 games releasing in July – Monster Hunter, Zelda, Death’s Door, and more

We highlight the biggest games coming to consoles and PC in July 2021.July is a decent month for games with something for everyone to be excited about. We might not be getting any massive AAA games but there is definitely no shortage of titles. In the video below we pick the seven biggest games of … 2021-06-30 15:04 1KB www.vg247.com

 191 
0.2
Starfox programmer wants to bring the series back without gimmicks

One of the original Star Fox programmers spoke about it in an interview. 2021-06-30 15:03 1KB www.gamereactor.eu

 192 
0.9
Xbox Series S xScreen lets you game on the go

Today, the Xbox Series S xScreen was revealed. It's an unofficial peripheral that will increase the portability of your console, with a flip-up screen at its core. Read on to see what the new accessory includes, and how it could change your Xbox experience. 2021-06-30 15:02 2KB www.gamerevolution.com

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DC5n United States software in english 192 articles, created at 2021-07-01 00:02

 

 1 /192 

0.7
iOS 15 is official, and you can get the public beta version now
(5.46/6)

Apple announced iOS 15, the newest version of its mobile operating system, at WWDC 2021. The software will eventually replace iOS 14 on compatible iPhone models, and adds new features and several changes to the overall look. The final release will come later in 2021, but the public beta can be downloaded and tried from June 30. Whether you decide to download it or not, settle in while we explain what’s coming to an iPhone near you soon. If you can’t wait until the end of the year to try iOS 15, there’s good news. Apple released the public beta version of the software on June 30, which means anyone with a compatible iPhone can download and install the software right now. It’s easy to do: Just visit Apple’s dedicated iOS 15 beta website and sign in, and Apple will guide you through the process to enroll your iPhone. Just be aware the software is not final, and some features may not work, some apps may not be compatible, and bugs may stop your phone from working normally. Therefore, it may not be suitable for the phone you use and rely on each day. Now, let’s take a look at the features included in iOS 15. Apple knows how important video calls and messaging are today, and it has announced a variety of new features for both FaceTime and Messages that are all built around SharePlay. SharePlay is about listening, watching, and sharing together with friends and family. For example, during a FaceTime call, you can simply press play in Apple Music and listen to a song together, all synced up right from the start. Anyone on the call can play or pause, giving everyone control over the entertainment. This also works with video, which can be streamed to an Apple TV at the same time, while always remaining in sync for callers. Apple’s SharePlay API will bring SharePlay to different apps, with Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Twitch, and TikTok all among the partners. It’s also possible to share your iPhone’s screen with people on a call, letting everyone browse the web or even provide advice on how to change a setting. Shared With You works throughout the iPhone, from Photos, News, and Podcasts to Safari, and lets you share articles, songs, and photos with friends as a message. Photos integrates shared photos from friends who have added you to friends and family on iCloud, and iOS 15 will sort photos with you in them and place them in your gallery. News shared with you in this way is placed at the top of your list, and you get reminders about who sent you the story. Notifications in iOS 15 are changing a lot. The biggest visual change is the Notification Summary, a block shown on the lock screen with all your notifications ordered by priority for a cleaner, more useful look. To make sure you don’t miss anything important, the summary separates notifications and identifies those that can be addressed later, such as app reminders. It uses on-device intelligence to assess which apps you interact with often, and what’s important to you, to help prioritize. The new Focus feature enhances the Notification Summary even further. You have the option to select between modes — Work, Personal, Sleep, and Do Not Disturb — so iOS 15 can prioritize notifications based on your circumstance. New widgets for the home screen let you see the notifications in your Focus mode. It can even be set to a location, and once you set your status, it automatically applies across all connected Apple devices. Throughout the notification system in iOS 15, look out for larger icons for apps and clearer text to make it easier to see what’s new and important. Apple has introduced a text scanning feature to the iPhone’s camera, and then supercharged it. Live Text unlocks text-based information from photos and works with screenshots and online photos, too. When you take a photo, it recognizes text, which can be copied and pasted into an email or text message, or you can select text from an existing photo to search online. It also recognizes phone numbers, which can be called directly from the photo. The new iOS 15 uses on-device intelligence to look closely at images. Visual Lookup lets you search a photo for information on art, books, nature, and landmarks. Elsewhere, Spotlight now searches for photos based on text, someone’s name, or even elements in a photo. You don’t even have to search for someone you know, as Spotlight also recognizes actors and other famous names. Apple Music has been integrated into Memories, where iOS 15 will build more exciting, personal collages of photos and videos based on your activities. It now builds these short shows with Apple Music tracks personalized from your tastes and appropriate to the setting. Images are all timed to the beat. To personalize them further, you can edit these using Memory Mixes to change the pacing, songs, and even the look using different filters. And iOS 15 continues to analyze the Memory and makes further recommendations on songs to use, all based on your personal tastes. Apple Wallet already keeps hold of your payment cards, membership cards, and car keys. Now, it’s expanding to include hotel keys. Hyatt Hotels is one of the first partners and will soon bring to iOS 15 keys to 1,000 hotels around the world. Wallet will also take your work identity cards in iOS 15. Your driver’s license will be the first personal identity document stored in Apple Wallet, where it will be encrypted and stored in the iPhone’s secure space. Apple stated that the Transportation Security Administration is working to accept the digital ID soon, and when you share it, a list of what will be accessed is shown. Apple wasn’t specific on when this feature would be added or whether the feature will be available outside the U. S. The popular Weather app has been redesigned with new animations to show current conditions, more in-depth graphs to show what’s happening, and full-screen, high-resolution weather maps. Apple is expanding Maps coverage to Spain and Portugal soon, and then Italy and Australia before the end of the year. It is also introducing an augmented reality (AR) view to a selection of cities before year’s end. It has been given a visual overhaul with an interactive globe overview. There are lots of new details, including custom-designed landmark icons, distances, elevation, and a night mode with a moonlight look. Driving directions have been updated in iOS 15 with more granular details on the map, including bus lanes, crosswalks, bike lanes, and better guidance for complex junctions and turn lanes. Initially only for Maps on iOS, these changes will come to CarPlay later this year. For transit guidance, Maps will follow the route for you and remind you when it’s your stop.
iOS 15 Could Be the Cure for Your iPhone Addiction
gizmodo.com
How to Try iOS 15, watchOS 8, and iPadOS 15 Right Now
gizmodo.com
Anyone can install the iOS 15 public beta now – here’s how
digitaltrends.com
How to get the iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 beta—the Public Beta is out now
macworld.com
How to Get the iOS 15 Public Beta
uk.pcmag.com
iPadOS 15 hands-on review: What works and doesn't work
zdnet.com
Apple releases iOS 15, iPadOS 15, WatchOS 8 public betas
zdnet.com
Apple iOS 15 public beta now available for download
mspoweruser.com

 

 2 /192 

0.3
PS Plus Games for July: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, A Plague Tale: Innocence
(4.07/6)

Sony PlayStation has just announced the freebies PS Plus subscribers will get in July. The highlight of the trio of games is clearly Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, but for those who don't like shooters, there's another high-profile title that we can't recommend enough, A Plague Tale: Innocence. Developed by Asobo Studio and launched on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One two years ago, A Plague Tale: Innocence will be getting a sequel called Requiem, which is set to arrive in 2022. On top of that, the team behind the franchise announced during E3 2021 that PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions of the game will be available in July. The good news is those who haven't yet played the PlayStation 4 version will now be able to get the game for free. The main drawback is that only the PlayStation 5 version of A Plague Tale: Innocence will be available for free for PS Plus subscribers. As far as the other two games that will be added to the PS Plus catalog, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is exclusively a multiplayer experience that made its debut on PC and consoles three years ago. The third and last game coming to PS Plus in July is WWE 2K Battlegrounds, a new entry in the series that promises over-the-top, arcade action. It's important to mention that A Plague Tale: Innocence (PS5), Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (PS4), and WWE 2K Battlegrounds (PS4) will be available to add to your console library starting July 6 until August 2. On a side note, current PS Plus subscribers can still get the PS Plus games for June – Star Wars: Squadrons and Operation: Tango, which will remain free until July 5. The third PS Plus game for June, Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown will be available on PS Plus for a second month, so subscribers can get it until August 2.
PS Plus free games for July include a gripping PS5 adventure
techradar.com
PlayStation Plus games for July include A Plague Tale: Innocence and Black Ops 4
vg247.com
Get ready to start over; Doom Eternal for PS5 has no way to transfer your progress
techspot.com
A Plague Tale: Innocence headlines July’s PS Plus lineup
digitaltrends.com

 

 3 /192 

0.1
The Most Anticipated Game Releases of July 2021
(3.07/6)

Although summers are typically weak for big game releases, JRPG fans will have a lot of titles to juggle with next month. On top of that, we have a new Monster Hunter game coming and a Zelda remaster, so it's all good. Now, the interesting thing is most of the important new games are launching after the first week of July. But once the train starts moving, it will be hard to stop it. We have Sniper Elite VR coming to Rift, Quest, PS VR, and Steam VR on July 8, as well as an indie game called Boomerang X, which is set for launch on PC and Switch on the same day. One of the biggest releases of the month, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin drops on PC and Nintendo Switch on July 9. One of the indie games that piqued our interest, Black Skylands launches on PC via Steam Early Access on the same day, July 9. The next games to release for PC are set to arrive on July 13: Radio Viscera and Claire de Lune. Guild of Darksteel, another interesting indie game with soulslike vibes is expected to launch on PC and Nintendo Switch on July 15, followed by two major titles on July 16: The Legend of Zelda – Skyward Sword HD (Nintendo Switch) and F1 2021 (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S). July 20 is another important day for the gamers, as we have three new titles arriving on the same day: Fallen Knight (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch), Cris Tales (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia), and Death’s Door (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S). After making its debut on Nintendo Switch last year, the racing game Urban Trial Tricky is getting released on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on July 22. The next day, fans of the Orcs Must Die series will be able to get the third entry in the series on their favorite platform. It's been a long time since the Samurai Warriors series didn't get a new game, but that's about to change on July 27 when Samurai Warriors 5 is set to hit PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. JRPG fans will be happy to know that The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles will arrive on PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch on July 27, along with action RPG NEO: The World Ends with You (PS4, Nintendo Switch). Tribes of Midgard (PC, PS4, PS5) and Eldest Souls (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch are two other titles launching on the same date, July 27. Also, Microsoft Flight Simulator is finally coming to Xbox Series X/S. The long-awaited The Forgotten City point-and-click adventure game is set for launch on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on July 28, followed by Unbound: Worlds Apart (PC, Nintendo Switch), a unique indie platformer. But wait, there's more! It looks like July will end with a bang, as we have at least three other interesting games launching on the same day. Nothing to Remember (PC), Paint the Town Red (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch), and The Ascent (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X) will be released on July 29. It's important to mention that The Ascent will also be available for free on Xbox Game Pass. Also, Project Warlock 2 has been delayed to late August, so it won't be coming next month. Last but not least, we have yet to learn when Little Devil Inside will arrive on PC, PS4, and PS5.
Here are the free games for PS Plus subscribers in July 2021
xda-developers.com
PS Plus Games for July 2021
futuregamereleases.com
Opinion: Windows 11 System Requirements Actually Make Sense
pcper.com

 

 4 /192 

0.4
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
(2.10/6)

If you’re in the market for an inexpensive Android phone with 5G, Samsung has your back with the Galaxy A32 5G ($279.99). Excellent battery life, solid performance, and years of promised Android upgrades and security updates mean this inexpensive phone should keep you happy for a long time. A low-resolution display aside, there’s very little to dislike about the Galaxy A32 5G; it's an excellent value and a winner of our Editors’ Choice award for budget-friendly 5G phones. Low-Res Never Looked So Good The Galaxy A32 5G is a handsome phone. It has a plastic backplate and chassis, but it doesn't look like the cheap budget phones of yesteryear. In the US, the phone has a glossy gray finish. Unfortunately, it quickly collected fingerprints and hairline scratches in testing. The phone measures 6.5 by 3.0 by 0.4 inches and weighs 7 ounces. That’s a typical weight for a handset with a 6.5-inch display, but the Galaxy A32 5G’s slippery finish makes it more susceptible to accidental drops than models with textured backs. The phone slid out of my hands on a few occasions while I was testing it. Fortunately, its plastic body and Gorilla Glass 5 display withstood these fumbles. The SIM/microSD slot is on the left side of the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. (Photo: Steven Winkelman) The front of the Galaxy A32 5G is dominated by a 6.5-inch LCD with a teardrop notch and slight bezels. The resolution clocks in at 1,600 by 720 pixels, for 270 pixels per inch. The display is bright and vivid, and you’ll be hard-pressed to notice any pixelation without close examination. That said, it doesn’t compare with the less-expensive OnePlus Nord N200 5G 's 6.49-inch,2,400-by-1,080-pixel 90Hz display. Instead of the protruding camera module you see on most Samsung phones, the Galaxy A32 5G has three discrete sensor bumps vertically stacked in the upper left corner of the backplate. To their right is another sensor that’s flush with the phone, along with the flash. A Samsung logo and microscopic regulatory information are located on the bottom third of the backplate. The top of the phone is bare, and the USB-C charging port,3.5mm headphone jack, and speaker grille fill the bottom of the chassis. On the left side, you’ll find the SIM/microSD slot. The right side is home to the volume rocker and a power button with an integrated fingerprint sensor. The sensor is fast and accurate, and the buttons provide a satisfying tactile feedback when tapped. The volume rocker is difficult to reach if you have small hands. Durability is a mixed bag. The Galaxy A32 5G lacks an IP rating, and I couldn’t find any mention of water resistance on Samsung’s website. I did wind up outside in a heavy storm while using the phone and didn’t notice any damage to it, but if you drop it in a pool, all bets are off. Otherwise, the plastic body and chassis should handle minor dings and drops without much damage. So should the Gorilla Glass 5 display panel, which is uncommon for phones in this price range—most use the significantly inferior Gorilla Glass 3. Good 5G Today, Better 5G Coming Soon Samsung sells the Galaxy A32 5G both online and through all the major US carriers. It has extensive LTE and sub-6GHz 5G band support. There’s even C-band support, which should give a healthy boost to 5G speeds on AT&T and Verizon in the near future. I tested the phone on T-Mobile’s 5G network in Chicago and recorded impressive results. Speeds averaged 141.9Mbps down and 42.8Mbps up. Those numbers slightly trail the Nord N200 5G’s average speeds of 154.2Mbps down and 46Mbps up, but there are dozens of variables that could account for the difference. These numbers don’t compare with the super-fast speeds you’ll get on a flagship phone with mmWave connectivity, but they’re brisk for a budget phone. The 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C port, and speaker grille are on the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. (Photo: Steven Winkelman) Call quality is superb. The earpiece’s 86dB maximum volume is loud enough to hear on busy streets. Test calls were clear and noise cancellation worked perfectly. The single, bottom-firing speaker fails to impress. At its peak volume of 92dB, there’s noticeable static. Lower volumes are tolerable, but the mids are brassy and lows are nonexistent. Unless you’re planning to use the speaker for a quick call, we recommend a good pair of headphones. Dual-band Wi-Fi is on board, though Wi-Fi 6 is not. There’s also Bluetooth 5.0 for wearable connectivity and NFC for mobile payments. Battery Life for Days The Galaxy A32 5G is powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 720 5G chipset along with 4GB of RAM. There’s 64GB of storage, with about 46GB available out of the box; if that’s not enough, you can add up to an additional terabyte of external storage with a microSD card. Overall performance is good. Apps open quickly and there’s almost zero lag with screen transitions. Multitasking doesn’t slow the phone down either. The initial boot-up process takes a beat longer than it does on the Nord N200 5G, but the difference is hard to notice unless you’re paying close attention. The power button has an integrated fingerprint sensor that's both fast and accurate. (Photo: Steven Winkelman) If you’re a casual gamer who plays Candy Crush on your morning commute, the Galaxy A32 5G will be just fine. Hardcore gamers, however, will find the phone to be a poor fit. If you’re shopping for an inexpensive gaming phone, your best bets are the Google Pixel 4a 5G or the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. I tested the phone with Genshin Impact, the most resource-intensive game in the Google Play Store, as well as the less processor-hungry Alto’s Odyssey. On Genshin Impact, I encountered long load times and a few crashes during an hour of gameplay. Alto’s Odyssey performed fine for the most part, though I noticed several skipped frames. See How We Test Phones See How We Test Phones On Geekbench 5, a benchmarking test that quantifies raw computing power, the Galaxy A32 5G scored 501 single-core (SC) and 1,678 multi-core (MC). The Nord N200 5G eked out 508 SC and 1,588 MC on the same test. Despite the difference in their multi-core scores, the two phones perform about equally well during everyday use. The 5,000mAh battery should yield a few days of moderate use between charges. In our battery drain test, which streams HD video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, the Galaxy A32 5G shut down after 13 hours and 1 minute. If you need a quick boost, the phone supports 18W fast charging; an adapter is included in the box. Snappy Shooters The rear camera stack consists of a 48MP primary lens with an f/1.8 aperture, an 8MP ultrawide lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 5MP macro lens with an f/2.4 aperture, and a 2MP depth sensor. There’s also a 13MP front-facing camera with an f/2.2 aperture. The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G's primary lens takes excellent shots in most lighting scenarios. (Photo: Steven Winkelman) Like most phones in this class, the Galaxy A32 5G takes solid pictures in good light. Test photos with the primary lens were crisp and vivid with a natural depth of field. The ultra-wide lens does an admirable job as well, but I noticed some minor background noise in several photos. With good light and a steady hand, the Galaxy A32 5G’s macro lens can take a decent shot. My best test photos, captured after lots of trial and error, were flat with some loss of fine detail. The worst were a gauzy, impressionistic mess. For low-light photos with the primary lens, the Galaxy A32 5G surpassed the Nord N200 5G. I noticed noise and some loss of fine detail in most of the test shots, but there was less blur and better color accuracy. Low-light photos with the ultra-wide lens on the Galaxy A32 5G are good for a budget phone, but you'll notice minor distortion and light flare. (Credit: Photo Winkelman) Test shots with the ultra-wide lens were noticeably better on the Galaxy A32 5G than on the Nord N200 5G. My test shots had intermittent light flares, but background detail was superior and there was far less distortion when viewing similar shots on the two phones. The selfie camera performs well in all but extreme low light. My test shots were crisp and vivid with natural depth. A little noise seeps in low light, but the test photos were neither muddy nor flat—two common issues we notice with budget phones. Low-light photos with the primary lens have some blur, but color accuracy and depth of field are good. (Photo: Steven Winkelman) Portrait mode works surprisingly well on the Galaxy A32 5G. My test shots, with the default settings, had a natural-looking bokeh without any object mapping. If you prefer either more or less blur, there’s a slider in the app that allows you to make immediate adjustments. Portrait mode improves exponentially every year, and among current phones in this price range, the Galaxy A32 5G does an excellent job. Upgrades for Years to Come The Galaxy A32 5G ships with Android 11 along with One UI 3.1. Samsung’s custom skin continues to improve with each update, and its latest brings deep integration with Microsoft Office as well as an updated camera app, an improved Eye Comfort Shield mode that automatically adjusts the screen’s display throughout the day, and the option to switch out Samsung Daily on the home screen with Google Discover. The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G's cameras perform well for a budget phone. (Photo: Steven Winkelman) In addition to all of One UI’s customization features, Samsung includes a suite of productivity apps. For the most part, these apps are extraneous, since similar options are already baked into Android, but if you use Office 365 or just want to avoid Google apps, you'll appreciate the Samsung options. If you purchase an unlocked version of the Galaxy A32 5G, you’ll find it ships without bloatware. Carrier versions are a different story. Our T-Mobile review unit shipped with Spotify and a handful of T-Mobile apps. AT&T adds dozens of extra apps to the mix. Fortunately, most of these bonus apps can be uninstalled. Samsung’s upgrade policy is what sets the Galaxy A32 5G apart from the Nord N200 5G and most budget phones on the market. The Galaxy A32 5G will get two years of OS upgrades, three years of monthly security updates, and one additional year of regular security upgrades. The Nord N200 5G will only get an upgrade to Android 12 and regular security updates for two years. Excellent 5G Value With One Compromise For its price, the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G checks off nearly all the boxes for what we want in a budget phone. It handles all basic tasks with ease, has excellent battery life, will receive multiple Android upgrades, and has a decent camera stack. Its only real weak point is its low-resolution display. But unless you’re a gamer or planning to use your phone for Netflix binges, it likely won't bother you. Ultimately, the screen is vivid and bright, and you won't notice any pixelation unless your nose is up against it. If you’re looking for a budget phone with a higher-resolution display, the OnePlus Nord N200 5G is a great choice, though its camera isn't as capable as the Galaxy A32 5G's, and it will only get one Android upgrade. That means you won't find a better sub-$300 5G phone than the Galaxy A32 5G, and for that it earns our Editors' Choice award.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
uk.pcmag.com
This is our first look at the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
xda-developers.com
Rumors and renders reveal Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 5G
digitaltrends.com

 

 5 /192 

0.0
Windows 11 Creates Electronic Garbage?
(2.10/6)

Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom| Jun 30,2021| General Tech| 0 If you have yet to figure out what will be required of your computer to run Windows 11, then Ars Technica’s breakdown will be a handy reference for you. First off, the chances that you need hardware TPM is minimal, so the fact that they all sold out minutes after the Win11 announcement shouldn’t get you too depressed. AMD and Intel motherboards usually support firmware TPM, either 1.2 or 2.0 and enabling that in the BIOS should satisfy Windows 11’s TPM; Microsoft have not confirmed nor denied this yet which suggests they at least grasp the fact that people do not buy a TPM module along with their new motherboards. The requirement for a UEFI with Secure Boot enabled is going to make many older systems obsolete, but if your motherboard isn’t a decade old you should be good to go. The requirement for a GPU of some description which supports DX12 and WDDM 2.0 driver support on the other hand will certainly cause a number of systems to be tossed out. Those are both going to cause some systems to be retired but it is actually the webcam which could cause the most problem. If you want Windows 11 on your laptop, you will have to have an HD webcam, with Auto Exposure and Auto White Balance. This will mean that a huge amount of OEM laptops, especially from businesses, will need to be replaced. It is possible you might be able to get away with a USB webcam to meet this requirement, but that depends on if the camera is detected and installed before the installation process checks to see if you have one. Hackaday sees this as a serious problem, not because they won’t be able to run Windows 11, but because of the huge amount of ewaste which will be caused by the pallets of laptops which will be tossed out because of those requirements. In addition to the requirements above, they are also quite concerned by the processor requirements. A quick look shows that Intel processors which predate Coffee Lake/Amber Lake are out, which means that new Surface you just bought probably won’t allow you to install Windows 11. On the AMD side, that first generation Threadripper is right out, though your Ryzen 3 3200G with Vega 8 and early Zen processors like the Ryzen 3 3100 will be supported. ARM is pretty much right out except for the Snapdragon 850 and a handful of newer chips. A general trend seems to be if your CPU predates 2019, it will need to be replaced if you want to run Windows 11. Seeing as how many OEM laptops come with a three year warranty, this means you will be tossing out your laptop before it’s warrant expires… or you simply stick with Windows 10 until October of 2025. The amount of garbage that Windows 11 will generate is more than a little concerning, especially considering how it is currently disposed of. The piles of components in African and Asian countries, where most of our ewaste seems to end up will become mountains and contaminate the ground around them further. Add to that the fact that rare metals are named so for a reason, and the shortages of 2020-21 may seem like a pleasant memory. Share:
Windows 11 release date, features and everything you need to know
techradar.com
Windows 11 release date, features and everything you need to know
techradar.com
Microsoft explains why you'll need a TPM for Windows 11
pcworld.com

 

 6 /192 

0.4
Official renders of Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Classic leaked online
(2.06/6)

We already know that Samsung Galaxy Watch4 and Watch4 Active will be Samsung’s first two smartwatches that will be powered by WearOS. Last week, the official renders of the upcoming Galaxy Watch4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Active were leaked online. Today, Galaxy Watch4 Classic from Samsung’s upcoming lineup got leaked. The Galaxy Watch4 Classic will be available in three sizes: 42mm,44mm and 46mm. Also, it will feature a rotating bezel which will allow you to easily interact with the UI. This Classic edition smartwatch will be available in While, Black and Grey colors. The Galaxy Watch4 Classic will be durable than previous gen Samsung smartwatches as it is protected by Gorilla Glass DX/DX+. Also, it is rated at 5ATM and certified for MIL-STD-810G. Source: AndroidHeadlines
This is our first look at the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
xda-developers.com
Rumors and renders reveal Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 5G
digitaltrends.com

 

 7 /192 

0.8
Microsoft acquires AT&T networking tech to bolster its Azure for Operators strategy
(2.05/6)

AT&T has been working with Microsoft for several years to test its 5G workloads on Azure. Today, June 30 -- the last day of Microsoft's fiscal 2021 -- the pair announced the renewal of their partnership, with Microsoft acquiring AT&T's carrier-grade Network Cloud platform technology. Does this mean Microsoft is becoming a mobile operator? No. Nor is AT&T getting out of the telco business. The Network Cloud Platform is what AT&T has used to run its 5G technology since 2018. Microsoft plans to take this Network Cloud platform, specifically the intellectual property and technical expertise around it -- and bring it to its Azure for Operators telco offering, the pair said. "This move brings real-world production 5G workloads to Azure for Operators," said Microsoft via a press release. Microsoft will make offers to the AT&T Network Cloud platform engineering team to move to work for Microsoft. Announced last year, Azure for Operators is about making Azure more appealing to telecommunication companies. Microsoft officials said at the time that it had no intentions to become a telco provider in its own right. Microsoft also bought a couple of 5G-centric companies in recent months -- Metaswitch Networks and Affirmed Networks -- to further bolster its ability to sell Azure to telcos. Telecommunications is one of Microsoft's key vertical markets. The company already counts NTT, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Verizon Business, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, and Telstra, along with AT&T, as partners and/or customers in this space. Today, AT&T officials said they are moving their 5G mobile network to Microsoft's cloud, which provides a path for all of its mobile network traffic to be managed using Azure technologies. The first piece to be moved will be AT&T's 5G core, which connects mobile users and IoT devices with Internet and other services. In 2019, Microsoft and AT&T announced Azure technology would be woven into AT&T's 5G and edge networks, so that A T&T's virtualized 5G core Network Cloud will be able to deliver Azure services to customers. Today's announcement advances the original 2019 deal between the two companies.
Satya Nadella on LinkedIn: AT&T to run its mobility network on Microsoft’s Azure for Operators
linkedin.com
Microsoft to acquire AT&T’s Network Cloud technology and Azure will power AT&T’s 5G network
mspoweruser.com

 

 8 /192 

0.7
Bloober Team reportedly working on a Silent Hill project
(2.04/6)

In a new partnership, Bloober Team, creators of The Medium, will be teaming up with Konami, publishers of the Silent Hill series, to reportedly create a new game in the franchise. This “strategic cooperation agreement” between Bloober Team and Konami will “include jointly developing selected contents and exchanging know-how,” according to Bloober Team’s press release about this new partnership. It’s not been officially confirmed what Bloober Team might be working on alongside Konami, however, VGC reports that “one of the projects it’s working on is Silent Hill related,” which corroborates past rumours and reports we’ve heard as well. It’s believed that this won’t be the only Silent Hill in development at the moment, as VGC has also reported previously that a “prominent Japanese developer” is also creating a game for the franchise, which should be revealed later this summer. This all but confirmation that Bloober Team is working on a Silent Hill game should be great news to fans of the franchise, as The Medium was a fantastic horror adventure that used the best of the new generation’s hardware. In our review, we thought that The Medium was a “deeply captivating and powerful experience,” so they should do wonders with Silent Hill.
Silent Hill Reboot Rumors Fly As Konami Partners With Bloober Team
segmentnext.com
The Medium dev Bloober Team partners with Konami, intensifying rumors of new Silent Hill game
techspot.com

 

 9 /192 

0.8
What’s new on Peacock in July 2021
(2.02/6)

It’s relatively new among streaming services, but NBCUniversal’s Peacock makes a strong case for subscribers with an impressive library of new and classic movies and television series, along with plenty of intriguing original projects. July brings a long list of new arrivals, so read on for the highlights, as well as everything else coming to the streaming service throughout the month. Below, you’ll find the full list of July’s additions to the Peacock library with our recommendations in bold. (Note: Some content will not be available to watch without a paid subscription at the Peacock Premium or Peacock Premium Plus levels.) If Peacock isn’t your only go-to streaming service, we also have helpful guides to the best movies on Netflix and best shows on Netflix, as well as the best movies streaming on Amazon and best TV shows streaming on Amazon, and plenty of other guides for Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max. The hit podcast Dr. Death makes its way to Peacock with an all-star cast in this original drama series produced by NBCUniversal for the streaming service. The series casts Joshua Jackson as Dr. Christopher Duntsch, the Texas surgeon whose nasty habit of leaving his patients seriously injured or dead led to him being convicted of gross malpractice. Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, and AnnaSophia Robb portray the trio attempting to bring an end to the surgeon’s horrifying abuse of the Hippocratic Oath.
Bulletin, Facebook's newsletter subscription service is now live
techspot.com
What's New on Showtime in July 2021
uk.pcmag.com

 

 10 /192 

0.4
The Best Cheap Phones for 2021
(1.06/6)

Affordable phones are better than ever. Sure, you’ll still find plenty of flimsy handsets with dated software out there, but if you do some digging, there are lots of excellent flip phones and smartphones that work far better than their low prices suggest. If you're buying on a budget, we're here to help. We've gathered the top phones you can buy for less than $300, along with the most important features to look for when shopping. What to Look For in an Affordable Phone While budget-friendly phones don't have all the perks that come along with midrange or flagship models, that doesn't mean you can't find a perfectly capable device to suit your needs. Let's start with the features we believe are absolutely essential when choosing a cheap phone. Keep in mind that most of these recommendations are for smartphones, so if you're in the market for a flip phone, many of these tips don't apply. TCL 10L Battery Life: There are lots of variables to consider when it comes to battery life, but ultimately you want your phone to last at least until the end of the day. If you're shopping for a phone with a screen smaller than 6 inches, look for a battery capacity of 3,500mAh or higher. For phones with larger screens, you'll want to look for a minimum battery capacity of 4,500mAh. Chipset: Unless you want to spend less than $150, you should generally look at Qualcomm chipsets released within the past year or phones that use older 7 or 8 series processors. The Snapdragon mobile platform is evolving quickly and there are incredible options in every series If you're planning to keep your phone for a few years before upgrading, the Qualcomm 480 5G and 690 5G mobile platforms are solid options, as are most 7 and 8 series chipsets. Compatibility: Before you make a purchase, you'll want to decide whether you're ready to jump on the 5G bandwagon or if you'd rather stick with LTE. No matter your choice, make sure your phone has the appropriate band support for your carrier. Search for 5G and LTE bands by the phone's model number, not its name. Once you have a list of bands, you can check out this handy article from Phone Scoop to make sure the phone will work on your carrier. You'll also want to know if the phone has support for the bands that best suit your needs. For example, T-Mobile customers in rural areas will want a phone with LTE band 71 support, while AT&T and Verizon customers will want to look out for C-band coverage on 5G budget phones. Motorola Moto G Play (2021) Connectivity: Connectivity has a huge impact on call quality and data speeds. For the most part, you're going to want a phone with a Qualcomm X12 or X51 5G modem. If you're looking at flip phones, make sure the modem has voice over LTE (VoLTE), voice over Wi-Fi (VoWIFI), and Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) for the best call quality. You'll also want 802.11ac Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth 4.1 or later. Operating System: Look for the latest generation of Android, which is currently Android 11, though it's quite possible you might have to settle for Android 10. Don't go back any farther than that. RAM: Simply put, the more RAM the merrier. For phones under $200, look for at least 4GB of RAM. If you're willing to spend more, make sure you get a minimum of 6GB. Storage: Like RAM, you can't have too much storage. Look for at least 32GB of storage on phones under $200, and make sure the phone has a microSD slot. If you spend more, you'll want no less than 64GB of storage, ideally with a microSD slot. See How We Test Phones See How We Test Phones Not Essential, but Nice to Have Once you have the essentials covered, you'll want to see what extra perks you can find. Keep in mind you won't find many of these features on the majority of budget-friendly phones, but chances are we'll start seeing them trickle out more over time. Multi-Lens Cameras: Most affordable phones have multi-lens camera stacks that allow you to capture wide-angle and macro shots. For the most part, these phones can capture solid images if you have a steady hand and good light. NFC: NFC is slowly making its way to the affordable phone market. It's a great feature to have as contactless payments have become more popular. Stereo Speakers: A handful of budget-friendly phones have stereo speakers and even advanced features such as custom tuning and Dolby audio. Though no phone is going to sound as good as even an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker, it's definitely an upgrade over a single driver. Splash Resistance: Though we've yet to see a budget offering with an official ingress protection (IP) rating, a handful of affordable phones now feature splash resistance. They're usually treated with a nanocoating such as P2i and can withstand rain and other minor splashes, but not a drop in the pool. Strengthened Glass: If you're spending more than $100 on a phone, it should have strengthened glass to protect the display from crack and scratches. Gorilla Glass 3 seems to be the standard for most budget phones, but we've seen a few with Gorilla Glass 5. In general, each generation of Gorilla Glass is softer than the last; phones with Gorilla Glass 5 displays are less likely to shatter when dropped, but they're also more likely to accumulate hairline scratches. What's the Cheapest iPhone? You'll notice we haven't included an iPhone here. That's because we're trying to keep this list as affordable as possible, and as much as we like the new iPhone SE, its $399 price places it firmly in midrange territory. That said, if you're looking for an affordable iPhone, it's the one to get. Also see our in-depth explanation of which iPhone to buy. Apple iPhone SE For more, see our stories on the best cheap phone plans and how to get the best price on a new phone. We also have a few other affordable options in our list of the best phones for seniors. And we'll be adding new phones here as we review them, so make sure to check back soon.
The Best Android Phones for 2021
uk.pcmag.com
The best cheap iPad deals in June 2021
techradar.com

 

 11 /192 

0.3
ADT Medical Alert Plus
(1.05/6)

The Medical Alert Plus ($35.99 per month) from ADT is an in-home medical alert system that connects you to a live emergency response agent with a single button press. It uses cellular technology to make the call and doesn't require a landline, and it's equipped with large backlit buttons and an easy-to-read status LCD. The system performed flawlessly in testing, but it's more expensive than most of the competition and doesn’t offer a mobile app or any of the add-on services that you get with our Editors’ Choice winner, the MobileHelp Classic. Features and Pricing The ADT Medical Alert Plus comes with a cellular base station, a wearable pendant or wristband help button, and a user guide. The base station looks identical to the one that you get with the MobileHelp Classic and is in fact a later generation of the same model. The wedge-shaped device has a white finish and contains large teardrop-shaped Emergency and Reset buttons, a smaller Test button, a 2.2-inch wide LCD, a speaker, and a microphone. A power cord is hardwired to the back of the device, where you’ll also find an on/off switch and a mini USB port (reserved). Inside is a cellular radio that uses AT&T’s network to connect you to a 24/7 emergency response center when the Emergency button or a pendant button is pressed. There’s also a backup battery that will provide up to 30 hours of power in the event of an outage. The oval pendant help button is 1.7 inches long and 1.4 inches wide, and has a range of up to 600 feet from the base station. It is waterproof and can be worn in the shower. When powered up, the base station’s Emergency button glows red and the Reset button glows blue. There’s no way to dim these buttons, so keep this in mind when selecting a location for the base station. The Test button glows green when activated and the LCD gives you the current room temperature, the date and time, the internal battery level, and the cellular signal strength. It also has volume up and down buttons. The Medical Alert Plus will cost you $35.99 per month and doesn't require a contract. Still, that’s more expensive than competing devices including the MobileHelp Classic ($29.95 per month), the GetSafe Medical Alert Starter ($24.95 per month), and the Medical Alert At Home ($29.95). You can order the ADT system with fall detection, but that’ll cost you an extra $10 per month. ADT doesn’t offer any of the additional services that you get with systems like the MobileHelp Classic and the LifeFone At Home Medical Alert System, such as daily wellness calls, medicine reminders, and access to medical experts for medical advice. Moreover, it doesn’t come with a mobile app or a web console that lets family, friends, and caregivers monitor activity and input medical information and emergency contact information. Using the ADT Medical Alert Plus Setting up the Medical alert Plus system is easy. Once you’ve plugged in the base station and turned it on, the Emergency and Reset buttons and the LCD will light up. A voice prompt will say, “system ready," and after another couple of seconds, the date and time will automatically sync up with the cellular network’s date and time. ADT recommends testing the system right away by pressing the Test button. The Test button will turn green and a voice prompt will tell you to press the emergency button or a pendant button. The voice will continue to tell you that a user test call has been sent to the emergency response center and doesn't stop until you're connected, at which time another voice will say, “user auto test completed”. It’s a good idea to test your pendant range from various parts of the house, including the yard, to make sure you can connect to the base station from anywhere in your home. The Medical Alert Plus turned in speedy response times in testing (we measure response time as the time it takes to be connected to a live agent once the button is pressed). Its average speed of 16 seconds was faster than what we saw with the Aloe Care Health System (35 seconds), and significantly faster than its predecessor, the Medical Alert At Home No Landline System (61 seconds), but just a few seconds slower than the WellBe Medical Alert Plus System (10 seconds). The pendant showed excellent range, connecting to the base station from the far corners of my house and backyard. I took it outside and down the street where it was able to connect at 400 feet, matching the signal range of the Bay Alarm Medical In-Home pendant. Two-way audio with the response agents was crisp and distortion-free, and the agents were always professional and friendly. Fast Response Times, Light on Extras If you require a cellular based in-home medical alert system that offers fast response times, the ADT Medical Alert Plus performed admirably in our tests, has big, brightly illuminated buttons, and offers clear two-way audio communication. Additionally, the backup battery will keep things running in the event of a power outage. That said, you don’t get any extras with this system—it lacks add-on services such as medicine reminders, daily wellness calls, and medical advice, and it doesn’t offer a companion mobile app that lets family and caregivers provide important medical information, edit contact information, and view system activity. Our Editors’ Choice for in-home medical alert systems, the MobileHelp Classic, not only costs less, but offers web and mobile apps as well as medicine reminders and email status alerts. If you want a system that does more than connect you to an emergency response center, meanwhile, the WellBe Medical Alert Plus (also an Editors’ Choice winner) comes with a smart speaker and a smartwatch and offers medicine, appointment, and prescription refill reminders. It not only covers you at home and on the road, but will also play your favorite tunes and control your smart home devices.
Best medical alert smartwatches of 2021
techradar.com
ADT On-the-Go Medical Alert System
uk.pcmag.com

 

 12 /192 

0.1
Blizzard details Diablo 4 customization options and new enemies
(1.05/6)

Blizzard Entertainment has shed some light on Diablo 4 ‘s customization options. Players can change multiple aspects of their character, including skin tone, hairstyle, and tattoos. Armor dyes are also now in the gam, giving players even more ways to change up their looks. Blizzard Entertainment posted its quarterly update for Diablo 4 to fill players in on what it’s currently working on. One of the main subjects is character customization. Diablo 4 allows players to change their character’s skin tone, jewelry, hairstyle and hair color, tattoos, and makeup. Specific customizable options will only be available to certain classes in order to support the classes’ specific backgrounds. Armor dying is also available for players who want to really create their own personal character. Each set of armor will feature multiple sections to recolor and there will be access to a myriad of colors. Diablo 4 is the first game in the series that will have in-game cutscenes featuring player characters. Normally, the series features prerendered cutscenes and cinematics that involve characters in the narrative, but never the actual players. With these new in-game cutscenes, players will now see their characters interact with the story in a more cinematic way. This means that your customizable options will be on full display during these cutscenes. The update also shows off some enemies, new and old, that players will encounter during their journey through Sanctuary. Blizzard Entertainment has confirmed that classic enemies such as succubi and skeleton warriors will make a comeback in the fourth installment of the franchise. The Blood Bishop is a new enemy that was announced in the quarterly update. This sanguine spellcaster will pelt players with magic from a distance while also using area of effect skills to deny them ground to move around. This creature seems to be created completely out of blood and arteries with a golden crown on top of its head. It will use blood clots that explode and do damage to a wide area to attack against players. There is currently no release date for Diablo 4.
Blizzard details Diablo 4 customization options and new enemies
digitaltrends.com
Blizzard gives us a new look at Diablo 4’s classes and classic enemies
polygon.com

 

 13 /192 

0.5
The Best Free PC and Console Games to Claim in July 2021
(1.04/6)

Star Wars: Squadrons (Image: EA) Everyone loves free games. Steam has a hefty collection of them, but some places offer titles for only a limited amount of time. Epic Games gives away multiple games a week. Amazon's Prime Gaming subscription service has new titles each month. But if you're not paying attention, you'll lose out on a PC game you could have kept forever. In an effort to help gamers know what's out there to claim, we're tracking the best free games available in a given month. While some titles are free outright, others are included as part of a subscription service. Here's everything you can grab this month. Free Epic Games Store Games Epic Games gives away free titles every week; no need for a subscription. Head over to the Epic Games Store website or open the launcher, scroll down to the Free Games section, and hit the Free Now banner on the title you want. Then, go through the process as if you were purchasing the game. You won't be charged, and the game will appear in your games library on the Epic Games launcher. Horizon Chase Turbo (Until July 1) Inspired by the retro racing games of the '80s and '90s, Horizon Chase Turbo features split-screen multiplayer,16-bit inspired graphics, and a soundtrack by Barry Leitch, the musician behind memorable games including Lotus Turbo Challenge, Top Gear, and Rush. Sonic Mania (Until July 1) Remember when Sonic the Hedgehog games were actually good? The developers of Sonic Mania do! This game brings the franchise back to its 2D,60fps glory days with levels and gameplay inspired by the classics. The Spectrum Retreat (July 1 - July 8) In the first-person puzzle game The Spectrum Retreat, you wake up in a mysterious hotel with no memory and no one around other than a few robot assistants. You must solve color-based and physics-based challenges to uncover the truth about what is really going on. Rocket League (Now Free) Rocket League, a game in which you play soccer with race cars, combines high-speed racing with competitive sports gameplay to make it an Editors' Choice winner among competitive esports titles. It's now a free-to-play game exclusive to the Epic Game Store. Free GOG Games GOG doesn't have regular giveaways as some other websites do, but it offers a small collection of free games, which mainly comprises classic computer games. Titles including Shadow Warrior Classic Complete and Postal: Classic and Uncut, which you would have to pay for on Steam, are free on GOG. Other classics, such as Ultima 4 (1985) and Akalabeth: World of Doom (1979), are not available anywhere else. Akalabeth: World of Doom (1979) Ascendant (2014) Beneath a Steel Sky (1994) Bio Menace (1993) Cayne (2017) Delores: A Thimbleweed Park Mini-Adventure (2020) Doomdark's Revenge (1984) Eschalon: Book I (2006) Flight of the Amazon Queen (1995) Jill of the Jungle: The Complete Trilogy (1991) The Lords of Midnight (2013) Lure of the Temptress (1992) Postal: Classic and Uncut (2003) Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves (2013) Shadow Warrior Classic Complete (1997) Stargunner (1996) Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius (2014) Teenagent (1994) Treasure Adventure Game (2011) Tyrian 2000 (1999) Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar (1985) Ultima World of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams (1991) Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (1990) War Wind (1996) Children of Morta (While Supplies Last) This giveaway requires you to make a purchase first. GOG and Visa are giving away 53,000 codes for the action RPG Children of Morta. Get the game by signing up at the giveaway page, then making a $25 payment using a Visa card. Save the card to your account for future purchases to receive a free copy of this roguelike tale of the Bergson family's journey to free Mount Morta of the evil Corruption. The Witcher: Enhanced Edition GOG allows you to score a free copy of the first Witcher game if you download the GOG Galaxy desktop client. Go to the Recent view and click the giveaway button at the top of the screen. As long as you agree to let GOG send you news and offers, the game is free to claim. Free Itch.io Games Tired of big blockbusters? Itch.io is a digital game store dedicated to indie titles you won't find anywhere else. Check out the sales page for free titles. Other games will set you back a few bucks; pay up or fork over a little more if you're feeling generous. You can then download the game directly to desktop or claim it and add it to your library. Calmed By the Dark Neon (Until July 1) This open-world RPG, developed with RPG Maker MV, puts you in the role of a monster hunter in a futuristic city. In Calmed By the Dark Neon, you complete missions, fight with sword and gun, and drive your high-speed motorcycle. Glint: Flickering Light (Until July 1) Glint is something of an endless runner. You must guide a small flame in a bid to get as far as possible in the game. On the way, you collect items and abilities that help you on the journey. You start over if your flame extinguishes, but coins can be used to purchase upgrades for the next run. Ricochet Bounce (Until July 1) In the puzzle game Ricochet Bounce, you deflect a ball through a course to reach the end. The further you get, the harder it becomes to collect everything, finish each level, and get a perfect score. Stealth Fishing (Until July 1) In Stealth Fishing, you have to catch fish in order to save them from an aquarium. Cast your line and avoid the searchlights while grabbing as many fish, coins, and collectables as you can. Vehicle Stunt Simulator (Until July 1) The sandbox car physics game Vehicle Stunt Simulator lets you take control of a car and perform amazing stunts within the game world. Free Microsoft Store Games Microsoft doesn't usually give away games on the Microsoft Store, but there are a few titles the company has decided to make free moving forward (some you can find only on the web, and not the desktop app). If you have a game code to redeem, sign into your Microsoft Account, then enter the code at redeem.microsoft.com; from the web app, go to More > Redeem a code. If it's a game for your Xbox console, you must first make sure remote install is set up on your console. Crackdown 1 & 2 (Now Free) Microsoft has made the sandbox-style third-person shooters Crackdown, and its sequel Crackdown 2, available for free from the Microsoft Store. The games let you cause massive amounts of destruction as you fight enemies within the game world. Farming Simulator 14 & 16 (Now Free) Farming Simulator lets you grow crops, care for animals, and run a farm while operating true-to-life farming equipment. Newer editions have been released, but the 2014 and 2016 versions are now free in the Microsoft Store, giving you a good chance to try out the games before investing in the newest version. Phantom Dust (Now Free) The original Xbox release Phantom Dust combines third-person combat with card collecting to create a unique real-time strategy experience. Complete missions to gain new skills and equip unique builds for each new battle. The game was supposed to get a remaster on Xbox One, but was made free instead after it was cancelled. Too Human (Now Free) The action RPG Too Human is a science-fiction retelling of Norse mythology, where all the gods are cybernetically enhanced humans who must stop Loki's machine army. Free PlayStation Plus Games PlayStation Plus is Sony's online multiplayer and games subscription service that costs $9.99 for one month, $24.99 for three months, or $59.99 for a full year. As part of the service, you can claim two new games to keep every month. They'll be accessible as long as you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription. Subscribers who own a PS5 will also be able to keep games from a curated selection of titles. There are two ways to claim these games from your console. Choose the PlayStation Plus icon from the PlayStation home screen to see the currently available games, plus previously claimed titles. Claimed games can be re-downloaded from this page. You can also go through the PlayStation Network Store and select PS Plus in the left-hand menu. The other way allows you to add games to your console directly from the PlayStation Store as long as you have Automatic Downloads enabled. Once this is set up, you can choose the games you want from the web page and they will be remotely downloaded to your console. Operation: Tango - PS5 Only (Until July 5) In the espionage-themed co-op game Operation: Tango, you play as either an agent or hacker and must work together to complete missions and save the world. While the game requires an internet connection to play, your friends can play with you for free. Star Wars: Squadrons (Until July 5) Take control of an X-Wing or TIE Fighter in this space combat game set in the Star Wars universe. Each side has its own strengths and weaknesses, with different classes each possessing their own capabilities in battle. The game, which is played exclusively in a first-person perspective, includes two multiplayer modes and a story mode. A Plague Tale: Innocence - PS5 Only (July 6 - Aug.2) In the action-adventure game A Plague Tale: Innocence, you play as a young woman who must sneak her way past enemies while also avoiding hordes of ravenous rats. Your trusty sling is all you have to defeat or distract guards, avoid obstacles, unlock new areas, and stop the rats from attacking. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (July 6 - Aug.2) Black Ops 4 is a multiplayer shooter that puts emphasis on the role of Specialists; player characters with special abilities and equipment. The game features single-player Solo Missions, a Zombies co-op mode, and the Blackout battle royale mode. WWE 2K Battlegrounds (July 6 - Aug.2) WWE 2K Battlegrounds features fast-paced, arcade-style gameplay that greatly differs from the realism of traditional wrestling games. You can play as WWE superstars from the company's history, unleash special finishing moves, and battle it out in co-op mode. Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown (Until Aug.2) Remember Virtua Fighter 5? The game that was first released in 2006 has now been remade under the title Ultimate Showdown. The new game includes upgraded graphics, new music, an updated interface, new cinematics, and online features. PlayStation Plus Collection - PS5 Only Those who own a PlayStation 5 and subscribe to PlayStation Plus now have access to a curated collection of PS4 games. Games can be claimed at any time and remain playable as long as there is an active subscription. The current lineup, from Sony and partner studios, includes: Batman: Arkham Knight Battlefield 1 Bloodborne Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Zombies Chronicles Edition Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Days Gone Detroit: Become Human Fallout 4 Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition God of War Infamous Second Son Monster Hunter: World Mortal Kombat X Persona 5 Ratchet and Clank Resident Evil 7 biohazard The Last Guardian The Last of Us Remastered Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Until Dawn Free Prime Gaming (Twitch Prime) Games Prime Gaming (formerly known as Twitch Prime) is a subscription service that provides in-game loot, free games, and many other perks each month. The service costs $12.99 a month with a free 30-day trial or comes included with your $119 Amazon Prime subscription. Navigate to the Prime Gaming page, scroll down to the "Games with Prime" section, and select the Claim button next to the titles you want. To play games offered by Prime Gaming, you must download the Amazon Games launcher. Click the "Download and Play" link that appears next to the Claim button. In the pop-up window, click the link that says Download the Amazon Games Apps (Windows) to install the launcher. Once installed, Prime Gaming games can be claimed via the launcher. Batman: The Telltale Series (Until July 1) In this episodic point-and-click adventure game, you play as Batman in his fight against crime. The game allows you to investigate crimes, fight criminals through QTEs (quick time events), and choose a path on the game's divergent narrative. Newfound Courage (Until July 1) In the story-driven adventure game Newfound Courage, you explore a town, uncover numerous mysteries, and fall in love with your best friend. Lost in Harmony (Until July 1) Lost in Harmony is a musical runner, in which you must dodge obstacles and move to the beat to advance the story. BFF or Die (Until July 1) This couch co-op game asks you to solve cooperative puzzles and manage different gadgets as you rescue missing alien beings. Spitkiss (Until July 1) This one-finger platformer with precision gameplay asks you to control bodily fluids so you can communicate between colorful creatures. Mugsters (Until July 1) In this physics-based action puzzle game, you must fight off an alien invasion with vehicles, traps, and explosives across sandbox-style levels. Automachef (Starting July 1) The resource-management puzzler Automachef lets you design automated kitchens to feed humanity. Batman: The Enemy Within (Starting July 1) In this episodic point-and-click adventure game, you play as Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego Batman in a battle to save Gotham City from the Riddler. Meanwhile, Batman must navigate the return of the Joker and the emergence of a mysterious government agency headed by Amanda Waller. Portal Dogs (Starting July 1) The title of this puzzle platformer tells you everything you need to know. You must navigate dogs through levels to send them through portals. RAD (Starting July 1) In the roguelike Rad, your character must navigate procedurally generated terrain in a quest to save the human race. Along the way, you'll gain mutations and bonuses that can alter gameplay and increase your stats. If your character dies, they're replaced with a new character, and you must build their mutations anew. Tales of the Neon Sea (Starting July 1) In this retro-style pixel-art adventure game, you play as a hard-boiled detective in your investigation of a crime. Investigate the clues and talk to NPCs as you discover hidden secret about the expansive cyberpunk city. The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature (Starting July 1) Taking inspiration from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, The Wanderer is an adventure game that lets you experience the story of Frankenstein's monster and make your own decisions along the way. Free Steam Games Steam has many free games you can download at any time, but limited-time free titles are a rare occurrence. In the event that you do find a free game, you can "buy" it on Steam like you normally would, but it will be automatically added to your library instead of having to check out. If you have a Steam Key code, you can claim the game by launching the Steam client and clicking Games Menu > Activate a Product on Steam. Follow the instructions to complete the process and get your game. You may also need to connect your Steam account with another online retailer (e.g. Humble Bundle) before you can enter the code. Nights Into Dreams (While Supplies Last) It turns out that Sega has a few more Steam codes to give out from its 60th anniversary celebration. Register your email with Sega, then claim a key for the classic console game Nights Into Dreams in your email. Crusader King II (Now Free) The grand strategy game Crusader Kings III has been well received, but you can preview the experience for free. Paradox Interactive has made Crusader Kings II free-to-play, giving gamers a chance to see what the excitement is all about. While the base game is free on Steam, the game's many DLCs are still paid. Endless Space Collection You can get the 4X strategy game Endless Space and its Disharmony DLC directly from the developer thanks to its Games2gether platform. Sign up for an account and open the reward page (the present icon in the top-right corner) to see your free game. Just link your Steam account to receive the free Steam key and save $10. Samorost (Now Free) The surrealist point-and-click puzzle game Samorost was initially released in 2003 but has now been remastered with enhanced sounds, graphics, and new music. The developer has made the game free forever. Total War: Shogun 2 - Battle of Kawagoe (Now Free) If you already have Total War: Shogun 2 in your Steam library, you can grab the Battle of Kawagoe map for free. It was originally released as a pre-order bonus in 2011, but now anyone can play the legendary battle that saw the Hojo clan launch an attack against the Uesugi, Ogigayatsu, and Ashikaga clans under the cover of night. Free Xbox Live Gold Games Xbox Live Gold is the premium subscription tier of the Xbox Live online gaming service that costs $9.99 a month or $24.99 for three months. It is also included in the cost of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Among the many perks you get is free Xbox games every month. While original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles are yours to keep forever, Xbox One games can only be played as long as you have an active Xbox Live Gold subscription. To claim your free games with an Xbox Live Gold subscription, go to the Gold section on your Xbox One console or visit this page on a computer to queue up the game for download on your console. Games are added on the 1st and 16th of every month. Shadows: Awakening (Until July 15) In this action RPG, you control a demon who can consume the souls of long-dead heroes. Each hero has their own abilities and storylines, which you can switch to in combat at any time. Now it's up to you to either save the world or destroy it. Conker: Live & Reloaded (July 1 - 15) Remember Conker's Bad Fur Day for Nintendo 64? Rare released a remake of the 3D platformer for the Xbox following the studio's acquisition by Microsoft. The new game includes a brand new multiplayer mode for Xbox Live. Planet Alpha (July 1 - 31) You must survive a harsh alien world in a game that combines platforming action with puzzle solving and stealth elements. Escape from dangerous enemies, avoid environmental obstacles, and control the planet's night and day cycle to find your way. Midway Arcade Origins ( July 16 - 31) This compilation of arcade games from Midway includes classics like APB, Arch Rivals, Defender, Gauntlet, Joust, Rampage, Sinistar, Smash TV, Wizard of Wor, and more. Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break (July 16 - Aug.15) This competitive tower defense game has you build your castles then fight each other with controllable boulders, arcade-style. The game includes a level editor, multiple game modes, and bizarre sense of humor. Miscellaneous Free Games Not every free game is part of a larger program or initiative. If we find a random giveaway or a DRM-free download, we will share them below. Apogee Classics Before 3D Realms created the Duke Nukem series, the company created adventure games for MS-DOS under the name Apogee Software Productions. You can grab several of these games for free if you create an account at 3drealms.com. Claimed games will appear under My Games, which can then be downloaded directly to your computer. Here's the list of Apogee games: Alien Carnage Arctic Adventure Bio Menace Major Stryker Monuments of Mars Pharaoh's Tomb Stargunner Blizzard Arcade Collection The Blizzard Arcade Collection brings together the definitive editions of three classic games: 1994 action platformer Blackthorne,1993 puzzle platformer The Lost Vikings, and 1994 isometric racing game Rock N' Roll Racing. While Blizzard expects you to pay $20 for the upscaled versions, you can still download and play the original games without needing to pay. The Elder Scrolls: Arena The Elder Scrolls: Arena is the first entry in the popular Bethesda series and has been free of charge since 2004. Download the full game on the company's website. It combines designed spaces with procedurally generated areas to create a vast, explorable game far bigger than what was usually possible back in the '90s. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall has been free since 2009; get it from the Bethesda website. Like Arena, Daggerfall features thousands of towns and dungeons to explore, as well as guilds to join, which offer their own questlines. Marathon Trilogy Before Bungie developed Halo for Microsoft, the company created Marathon, a Doom clone set in space that is considered a spiritual predecessor to Master Chief's adventures. Bungie developed Marathon, Marathon 2: Durandal, and Marathon Infinity in the mid-90s, then publicly released the source code prior to the Microsoft purchase. Now, Aleph One continues support and development of the games, which you can download and play here. StarCraft Blizzard released StarCraft: Remastered in 2017, so it made the original real-time strategy game, and its sequel, free to play. You can download StarCraft Anthology, which packaged the original game with the Brood War expansion pack, and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty for free. Whispering Willows In the adventure game Whispering Willows, Elena must venture into a haunted mansion in order to find her missing father. Along the way, she gains ghost powers and must interact with the spirits around her. You can claim this game from IndieGala.
Here are the free games for PS Plus subscribers in July 2021
xda-developers.com

 

 14 /192 

0.5
Microsoft wasn't joking about the Dev Channel not enforcing hardware checks: Windows 11 pops up on Pi, mobile phone
(1.02/6)

The enthusiast community has thumbed a nose at Microsoft's hardware requirements for Windows 11, with Insider builds demonstrated on Raspberry Pi hardware and the inevitable mobile phone. The latter will delight Windows Mobile holdouts, still mourning the death of their beloved operating system and stung by Microsoft's latest take on a telephone, which runs Android. A video surfaced yesterday showing the operating system running on a Lumia 950XL, inadvertently demonstrating that the operating system is less than ideal on the small screen, even if such wonders as screen rotation appear to work well. "In case you got doubts," tweeted the author ( a Dev botherer of Lumia hardware), "yes, it does do calls lol." More usable, however, is Windows 11 on a Raspberry Pi. A post on Twitter seemed to show the soon-to-be fussy OS up and running on one of the Raspberry Pi Foundation's finest, which, we're pretty sure, is not noted for being equipped with chippery listed in Microsoft's now infamous compatibility list. Getting Windows running on phones, Pis, and all manner of Arm-based hardware seems second only to the "does it run Doom?" question asked by many a tech tinkerer when presented with something new. Windows 10 on a Pi has long been a staple and the ease with which Windows 11 can be coaxed into life is both a tribute to the enthusiasts involved and an indication how little has changed under the hood, from a hardware standpoint, in the current Dev Channel build of Microsoft's new OS. After a few hours of play we were also able to persuade a version of Windows 11 to run (somewhat sluggishly) on our Pi-400. Sure, a 16GB SD card was sacrificed in the process and the test mode indicator (along with the odd square window or two and some bits of Windows 10 on show) hinted that some unexpected hoops were being leapt though, but otherwise the experience was relatively painless, if a little slow. Still, at no point during the new Windows 11 OOBE did the operating system complain about the hardware behind the scenes. As for how it works, the current Windows Insider Dev Channel builds do not yet enforce Microsoft's hardware rules so there is every chance things will stop working once the final incarnation of the Arm version of Windows 11 drops. It also seems very clear that what worked for Windows 10 does not require too much in the way of tinkering to allow Windows 11 to boot (at least at this stage of its development). Why any person would want to do such a thing is open to question. We like to think that the motivation is one of simply seeing what can be done with hardware and software, even if we have to admit that our Pi 400 seemed a whole lot happier running the Linux-based Raspberry Pi OS. For now, Windows 11 on a Raspberry Pi (or phone for that matter) remains an intellectual exercise – a fun thing to try, but you wouldn't use it for serious work. Or to write a contentious hardware compatibilty list. ®
Windows 11 Preview Build Actually RTM as Core OS Already Done
news.softpedia.com

 

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This week's Edge Dev build enables Tab Groups by default, adds Collections integration
(1.02/6)

It’s a new week, which means it’s time for a new Edge build for users in the Dev channel. Today, Edge Dev build 93.0.933.1 is rolling out to users, bringing with it a few new features and the usual set of bug fixes. In addition to this build for desktop users, the firm is officially announcing that all Insider versions of Edge are now available for Android users, with the latest entrant being the Beta version, which has been out for a few weeks. The release of Canary, Dev, and Beta channels for Android comes as part of the effort to unify the browser’s codebase across platforms. The company recently also opened up TestFlight sign-ups for iOS users. With the release of the latest Insider builds for Android, the browser version across devices will now be identical. However, there is no word on when the stable version based on the unified codebase will be released to all users. As for today’s build, the changes are minor as the teams head into the holiday weekend in the U. S. The most noteworthy change is that the Tag Groups feature is now being enabled by default, letting users select multiple tabs and group them without having to enable the feature via the hidden flags. Automatic tab grouping, however, still needs to be manually enabled. Additionally, users will be able to send entire groups to a Collection. Here is the complete list of fixes in today’s build: As usual, the release brings with it a bunch of fixes. Here’s are the fixes that improve the reliability of the browser: And here are the fixes that address changed behavior: There are a bunch of known issues that users running the Dev channel builds must be aware of. Here is the complete list: Lastly, the Redmond firm notes that there will not be a Dev channel build next week, likely due to the holidays. As is the case always, today’s build should be automatically downloaded and installed in the background. Alternatively, users can head into the About Microsoft Edge settings to force the browser to check for an update.
Microsoft Edge Dev and Beta channels now available for download on iOS and Android
mspoweruser.com

 

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Android Users Are Getting Closer to an iMessage-Like App
(1.02/6)

AT&T has announced it’s collaborating with Google to make Messages by Google the default messaging app on all Android phones supported by the network. This means AT&T subscribers will have access to Rich Communication Services (RCS) and Messages by Google’s built-in encryption abilities. RCS would effectively bring some iMessage-like features to all Android devices via the native Google Messages app. It includes simple features like an animated indicator to let you know a friend on the other end is typing out their reply. It’s also what enables nifty features like messaging over wifi and high-resolution photos and video. Of course, Apple would have to adopt RCS for it to work cross-platform. But for now, all Android users want is an iMessage-like way to interact with other devices running the same operating system on a different provider. Google has been pushing carriers toward RCS since it announced compatibility with its messaging app back in 2019. With AT&T and T-Mobile on board, Verizon Wireless is the last hold-out, though RCS, or “Advanced Messaging,” is available on select Samsung devices. Part of why RCS adoption has stayed in a veritable gridlock is that the carriers have been dragging their feet. Before T-Mobile acquired Sprint, the carriers tried to form their own Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) with another third party rather than adopt RCS. Google wasn’t part of that plan, which would have meant further fragmentation for Android users had the deal gone through. AT&T subscribers will also have access to the other perks afforded through Messages by Google, including full-resolution photo sharing, high-quality video messages, read receipts, and the ability to send and receive messages over wifi. Group chats will also work a bit more fluidly, provided the other folks are on Android devices and have RCS available. (It’s always tricky when an iPhone user enters the chat.) Google’s messaging fragmentation issue hasn’t been solved yet. But with AT&T’s near 45% market share in the U. S., it’ll hopefully light a fire under Verizon, the second largest carrier. It’s time for Big Red to abandon its bloated Verizon Messages app in favor of the stock app from Google that Android users want to use. Just don’t bet on Apple adopting it any time soon. Android users are lucky they even got an invite to FaceTime. And n one of this has anything to do with Google Chat, a standalone chat application connected to your Google account. That app also works on your mobile devices, though it’s akin to an instant messenger rather than a text message coming from your phone number. Regardless, all this consolidation work means Google is actively working on moving everyone toward unification.
AT&T’s Android phones will use Google Messages for RCS
xda-developers.com

 

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Best Lenovo Chromebooks for June 2021: Yoga, Duet, and more
(1.02/6)

Lenovo is one of the largest manufacturers of consumer electronics. Ranking number two on the list of Chromebook vendors by volume, Lenovo has an impressive lineup of devices running Chrome OS. If professional usability is your thing, Lenovo is one of the top Chromebook manufacturers to consider. Indeed, their flagship devices are some of the best Chromebooks you can buy. Those that use a Lenovo PC as their daily device will also enjoy the familiar design language and keyboard feedback. Perhaps most importantly, many of Lenovo’s Chromebooks also boast amazing battery life for all-day use. Our best overall pick comes from Lenovo’s popular Yoga line. The Yoga Chromebook is engineered for powerful performance both now and in the future, as it’s designed to improve over time with future Chrome OS enhancements. Key features include up to 8 th Generation Intel Core i5 processors with integrated graphics for seamless processing, and 128 GB of flash storage for wickedly fast boot-up times and app launching. This laptop also features 8GB of DDR4 memory and boasts up to 9 hours of battery life with regular use. The 15.6″ touchscreen display with 4K resolution is absolutely stunning. The Yoga Chromebook keeps you in the loop by syncing your emails and messages whether you’re online or offline. Thanks to two USB-C ports, a micro-SD card slot, and a USB 3.2 (Gen 1) port, you can connect all your favorite devices seamlessly for easy charging, data transfer, or streaming. You can even add a nice USB-C dock to connect more peripherals. Enjoy crystal-clear audio with two 2 watt speakers and a 720p webcam with dual mic array, supported by Intel 7265 2×2 AC Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.2 for stutter-free video-calling and multimedia streaming. Those that need speedy performance and top of the line specs will love this beautifully designed machine. The 2-in-1 design is fairly ubiquitous throughout the Chromebook space. Unfortunately, most of those 2-in-1 devices don’t have a detachable keyboard. If you want a Chromebook that converts into a true tablet, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is calling your name. The tablet features a unique dual-tone Ice Blue & Iron Grey design, with a sophisticated fabric texture on the stand cover. Its 10.1″ display features thin 9.13mm bezels and FHD (1920 x 1200) resolution in 400 nits brightness, for sharp details and color. Use the Lenovo Chromebook Duet as a laptop with a full-sized, comfortable, and responsive keyboard, or detach it for use as a 10.1″ tablet. The five-point pogo pin and magnet design makes it easy to connect and detach, and it’s thin and light in either mode— from 7.35mm / 0.29″ and 450g / 0.99lbs as a tablet, to 18.2mm / 0.71″ and 920g / 2.03lbs. With great battery life, it’s easy to take just about anywhere. On the inside, the Duet is powered by a MediaTek Helio P60T Processor (2.00 GHz,8 Cores,8 Threads),4 GB LPDDR4x (soldered) RAM, and 64 GB eMMC storage. Overall, this is the best true 2-in-1 Chromebook out there. This 11″ Chromebook is portable enough to move around the classroom, but durable enough to withstand a few bumps. The lightweight Chromebook C340 11″ boasts an ultraportable,360° convertible design and all-day battery life. It’s just 2.65lbs / 1.2kg and takes up less space than a piece of printer paper, but Intel processing gives it power that defies its size. The laptop comes in two snazzy colors, Platinum Grey and Sand Pink. Inside you’ll find an Intel Celeron N4000 Processor (1.10 GHz, up to 2.60 GHz with Turbo Boost,2 Cores,2 Threads,4 MB Cache),4 GB LPDDR4 2400MHz (Soldered) RAM, and 64 GB eMMC storage. It’s also easy to connect to other devices, thanks to its two ultrafast USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 ports, two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, and audio jack. Built-in 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 make connecting wirelessly at school a breeze. Business laptops need a bit of power mixed with style. Running Chrome OS with up to an AMD Ryzen 7 3700C processor and integrated AMD Radeon graphics, the ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook Enterprise delivers powerful performance in a sleek and durable aluminum chassis. Bootup takes seconds and once an employee logs in, the device becomes unique to that user. Plus, unlike your typical ThinkPad, this laptop comes in Abyss Blue — adding a bit of flair to worker style. Narrow bezels frame the display — an FHD IPS touchscreen model with a 72% color gamut — providing a larger screen to bezel ratio. So whether the ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook Enterprise is running a conference call, streaming a video, or building a presentation, this 2-in-1 device looks great. Like all ThinkPad laptops, the C13 Yoga Chromebook Enterprise is tested against 12 military-grade requirements and more than 200 quality checks. ThinkShield combined with Chrome Enterprise equals an unbeatable combination for security. The built-in security suite boasts a number of physical and biometric security features, like a webcam privacy shutter, the proprietary Google H1 TPM chip, and an optional touch fingerprint reader. Chrome Enterprise keeps your business safe with seamless updates and protection against evolving threats. Plus, each device includes a Kensington lock slot so it can be tethered when needed. If you want a compact 11″ Chromebook with the best battery life in class, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3 ticks all the boxes. The Chromebook Flex 3 (11″) is built for speed and distance, delivering the processing power for your everyday needs, while memory and storage provide fast boot times. With all that power you still get all-day battery life, making this device a trusty companion from day to night. The Chromebook Flex 3 features a MediaTek MT8183 Processor (2.0 GHz),4 GB LPDDR4X 1866MHz (Soldered) RAM, and 64 GB eMMC storage. Complementing the iconic dual-tone textured design of the Chromebook Flex 3 11 inch is a truly versatile 360-degree convertible configuration. To add function to the stylish design, USB-C and USB-A ports, as well as Bluetooth, let you connect to the peripherals you love, while WiFi lets you connect to the world. Enjoy your favorite shows at any angle with the Chromebook Flex 3 11.6 inch HD IPS display. Its 10-point touchscreen also enables an intuitive experience like using a tablet or smartphone. Soak in the crystal-clear sound of dual user-facing 2W stereo speakers. With the Chromebook Flex 3, you can enjoy Netflix all day and still get some work done too. The Chromebook S330 is the best 14″ option from Lenovo. Featuring a MediaTek MT8173C Processor (1.70 GHz,4 Cores,4 Threads),4 GB LPDDR3 1866MHz (Soldered) RAM, and 64 GB eMMC storage. Starting at only 20.8 mm / .82” and 1.45 kg / 3.2 lbs, and with a full keyboard and spacious trackpad, this Chromebook is perfect for day-to-day computing, on or offline. Full I/O support comes standard on the Lenovo Chromebook S330 with USB-C, SD card, and USB 3.1 support allowing you to connect to your favorite devices. The Lenovo Chromebook S330 also features powerful AC WiFi with Bluetooth 4.1 for connecting up to two Bluetooth devices at the same time, complete with a 720p webcam and two 2W speaker systems for crystal clear video calls. Further, Chrome OS delivers a suite of collaborative apps and services perfect for group work or individual play. That wraps up our list of the best Lenovo Chromebooks you can buy today. If you’re looking for the flagship, go with the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook 15.6″, which is one of the best Lenovo laptops running any OS. For all-day battery life in a compact package, we recommend checking out the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3. Either way, when you buy a Lenovo Chromebook, you’re getting well-built hardware and excellent performance. Now you’ve seen our choices, let us know your favorite Lenovo Chromebook in the comments below.
Best Chromebooks 2021: the top Chromebooks for kids, students and more
techradar.com

 

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Slack announces scheduled send, video messages and huddle audio chat
(1.02/6)

Slack today announced three new brand-new features that are not available on Microsoft Teams. Read about the new features below. 1) Huddles: Scheduling meetings is a huge task. Even to have a quick 10-mins casual conversation, we need to send a meeting invite so that the others can join. Slack huddles are a lightweight audio-first way to start live conversations. You can start a huddle in any channel or DM with a single click. Everyone in that channel is free to join and leave as they please. You can even share your screen within a huddle. Slack huddles are now rolling out to paid customers. 2) Audio, video and screen recordings: You can now send audio, video and screen recordings as messages to others. When a recording is shared in Slack, anyone can watch whenever they want. Slack also announced a new and improved playback experience. You can speed up or slow down the content or read through the transcript. Recordings made in Slack are also archived with searchable transcriptions. Video, voice and screen recordings are coming to paid teams over the coming months. 3) Scheduled send: You can now schedule a message to be sent. Scheduled send feature is now rolling out to all Slack users. Source: Slack
A Clubhouse for the office? Slack unveils ‘Huddles’ audio chat rooms
computerworld.com

 

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Slack Introduces Huddles for When You Just Want a Quick Chat
(1.02/6)

When Clubhouse first appeared, audio-first experiences suddenly became important and existing messaging services started implementing their own versions. The latest to do so is Slack, which has just launched "a lightweight audio-first way to start live conversations." The feature is called Slack huddles, and the focus is on encouraging casual conversations like colleagues used to have when they were all in the same office. Now with many people working remotely, and remote-work seeming to be the new normal going forward, the ability to initiate a quick chat is going to remain a challenge. A huddle can be started in either a Slack channel or via a DM. It's not limited to people working within an organization, either. Of course, like many new features, paying Slack customers get the feature first and it should already be available to use. Slack also took the opportunity today to tease a new feature for creating and sharing video, voice, and screen recordings as a way of replacing the daily meeting. The idea is to allow everyone to record what they want to share in the meeting ahead of time, be that a set of slides, a voice recording, or video clip, and then share it. Sharing can also be scheduled to go live at a specific time. Everyone else on the team can then view these recordings at their leisure, as a stream of content from different people, and with the ability to speed up or slowdown playback. The meeting still happens, it's just not live anymore. Slack also offers live captioning for all recorded content and for huddles, too. Unlike huddles, though, the new recording feature won't be available to paid users for a few months yet.
A Clubhouse for the office? Slack unveils ‘Huddles’ audio chat rooms
computerworld.com

 

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0.8
Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G wins the 'Best Smartphone Award' at GLOMO 2021
(1.01/6)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G has triumphed in the Best Smartphone category at the Global Mobile (GLOMO) Awards. Held at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona, these annual awards celebrate the mobile industry innovations in apps, devices, and services across the globe. The winners are selected by a jury of subject matter experts currently headed by industry veteran Shaun Collins. Samsung's flagship phone was nominated alongside the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, OnePlus 9 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, and Galaxy S20 FE 5G. The shortlisted devices were judged on a variety of factors including design, innovation, performance, utility, value for money, and user experience to name a few. According to the judges, the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G won them over with its "stunning AMOLED display" and "best in class cameras". For a quick recap, the phone features a premium glass sandwich design with a metal mid-frame. It is rated IP 68 for dust and water resistance. The S21 Ultra 5G sports a 6.8-inch AMOLED display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support. In terms of photography, it is equipped with a 108 MP main camera, along with a 12MP ultra-wide unit, and two telephoto cameras. Based on the region, it is either powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip or Samsung's in-house 5 nm Exynos 2100 SoC. The South Korean technology giant also made its presence felt in the Best Connected Consumer Device category. Part of the shortlist that included Huawei VR Glass, Nreal for Nreal Light, ZTE for Cloud + AI-based Home Camera, Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro lost out to Vodafone's smart GPS tracker dubbed as Curve. For the full list of GLOMO 21 categories and winners, head over to this link.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Was the Best-Selling Phone in Korea in Q1
news.softpedia.com

 

 21 /192 

0.4
Parrot’s 4G-connected Anafi Ai drone is the Google Maps car of the skies
(1.01/6)

Drones have exploded in popularity, but their range often leaves something to be desired. Midrange drones can reach as far as 1.5 miles, while high-end consumer drones can go as far as 4.5 miles away. Distance has been the limit to true freedom — until now. The new Parrot Anafi Ai drone uses 4G connectivity to eliminate any and all range restrictions. You can precisely control the drone from any distance, no line of sight is required, and obstacles won’t interfere with the connection. Thanks to the embedded Secure Element, the link between your phone and your drone is encrypted. This provides thorough data privacy and reduces the risk of someone hacking and stealing the drone. The Anafi Ai drone stands out for another reason, too: It’s the first drone in the industry to make its piloting application open-source. Parrot provides a Software Development Kit that developers can use to create custom code for the drone. This opens its flight sensors, obstacle avoidance sensors, and more up for customization, which means the potential of the custom software is limited only by developers’ imaginations. The Anafi Ai has a 48-megapixel main camera as well as a 4K 60 frames per second/HDR10 capable camera for snagging detailed aerial images and video footage. The drone is designed with photographers in mind and is capable of taking amazing videos thanks to the stabilization around its 4K camera. The HDR10 capability means that even high-contrast areas will be captured with clarity. The camera boasts 6x digital zoom; according to Parrot, users can make out 1-centimeter-sized details from a distance of 75 meters. The gimbal tilt allows the camera to be adjusted from -90 degrees to 90 degrees along its axis. Enhanced artificial intelligence can use photogrammetry to automatically create flight plans and improve productivity. Professional drone operators can use this feature to create flight plans based on the land registry of a building. In essence, the drone can create a 3D map and follow it to better avoid obstacles as it flies. You can think of it much like those Google Maps cars you may see out on the road, but for the skies. There’s no need for a subscription. Any SIM card capable of sending data will work for controlling the drone. The Anafi Ai is easy to use, folds for easy storage, and can be set up and operational in just one minute. Perhaps just as importantly, it’s resistant to rain. You can fly even in wet conditions, and your photos will still look great even in high winds. The gimbal ensures sharp photos in crosswinds up to 12.7 meters per second. The Anafi Ai is scheduled for release in the second half of 2021. No price has been given yet.
The Parrot Anafi AI is a 4G-connected drone that looks like a basking shark
techradar.com

 

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Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series of Final Fantasy 1-3 will be released on July 28
(1.01/6)

The first three entries in the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series will be released on July 28. Square Enix announced the release date today for the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series, entires one through three. Watch on YouTube On July 28, through Steam and on mobile, you will be able to acquire Final Fantasy 1-3 with pixel-perfect makeovers. You can also expect gameplay improvements, auto-battle options, modernized UI, a rearranged soundtrack, and extras such as a bestiary, illustration gallery, and a music player which will allow further immersion into the game world. This will be the first time FF1 and FF2 have been made available on PC. A 3D remake of Final Fantasy 3 has been available on Steam since 2014. The other three titles getting the once over are Final Fantasy 4-6, each of which will be released at a later date. To that end, the current version of FF5 and FF6 will be removed from the Steam store on July 27, the day before the first three entries of the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series arrive on the service. The pixelated remasters of 1-6 were announced via the Square Enix Presents showcase during E3, and each will be released individually for $11.99 or $17.99, depending on the title. If you decide to pre-order, you can take 20-22% off the price of each game. You can also purchase the games in a bundle for $74.82. Buying the game individually would run you a total of $95.94. The bundle contains all six games plus a special soundtrack featuring three tracks from each game and two wallpapers for each game.
Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster finally gets a release date and details
digitaltrends.com

 

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0.4
Rumored OLED iPad Air could outshine iPad Pro, confuse buyers
(1.01/6)

Last year, Apple presented us with a confusing dilemma when choosing between the iPad Air 4 and the 2020 iPad Pro. For a brief period, a processor upgrade left the cheaper Air more powerful than the premium Pro. A new report suggests that things are about to get tricky again. According to a new report from The Elec, Apple will launch several iPads with far superior OLED displays within the next few years. The iPhone maker will start with a 10.86-inch OLED iPad in 2022, followed by 11-inch and 12.9-inch OLED iPads in 2023. Those sizes are identical to the displays on today’s iPad Air and iPad Pro, respectively. The report echoes what well-connected Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo predicted earlier this year. If the new report is to be believed, then the $599 iPad Air will spend at least several months having what should be a much better display than the $799 and $1,099 iPad Pro. Sounds strange? It is. Presumably, the iPad Air 5 would still have the same minor drawbacks it has today. It would have a slightly smaller screen, no ProMotion 120Hz display, a slower processor that’s a generation behind the Pro models, and Touch ID instead of Face ID. And months after the iPad Air’s release, the 2023 iPad Pro updates will reportedly bring displays that are even better than the iPad Air 5’s. A quick display-tech primer: OLED stands for “organic light-emitting diode.” OLED panels can turn individual pixels on and off as needed, leading to deep blacks and much better overall contrast. A well-made OLED display will also have richer colors than the LCDs used in today’s iPads. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro you can buy today has an LCD panel that comes as close as possible to OLED’s strengths. Its “mini LED” screen uses a backlighting trick that can dim or illuminate thousands of different display regions, giving the LCD blacks and contrast that comes close to mimicking what an OLED provides. If this confusing crossover between the iPad Air and iPad Pro sounds familiar, that’s because it happened very recently. From September 2020 to April 2021, the iPad Air 4 had a newer and faster processor than the 2020 iPad Pro lineup, leaving some customers wondering why they would bother with the iPad Pro. That ended when Apple launched the 2021 iPad Pro, with its blazing-fast M1 chip that makes it as powerful as the latest high-end MacBooks. If you’re thinking about buying a high-end iPad today, do you buy now or wait until next year? The OLED iPad Air 5’s screen would be a massive improvement over both the iPad Air 4 and the 2021 iPad Pro lineup. If you don’t need Face ID or the ultrapowerful M1 chip, the iPad Air 5 could be worth waiting for. Of course, once you get into the weeds of asking whether to buy now or wait for the next model, you can get lost in a never-ending cycle. There will always be a better gadget on the horizon. Our advice? As long as a new model isn’t imminent – meaning within the next month or so – get the device you want today, and enjoy it. It won’t suddenly get worse once a better model inevitably supplants it. Still, it does make us wish Apple would release new iPad Air and iPad Pro models simultaneously. That would eliminate these confusing crossover periods, making for a much more straightforward answer to what $600 gets you, versus what $800 gets you.
The iPad Air rumored to get a huge screen upgrade in 2022
macworld.com

 

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0.4
Latest PUBG update takes a page out of Call of Duty: Warzone’s playbook
(1.01/6)

With the battle royale format more popular than ever, it’s no surprise that some games will borrow features from others. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has followed this trend in its latest update, adding a comeback mechanic to its newest map. The new system puts defeated players in a “Comeback Arena” that sounds eerily like Call of Duty: Warzone ‘s gulag. The 12.2 patch for PUBG adds a new map called Taego, which is the same size as its first map. Players can currently play on the new map in solo or squad modes, and it notably doesn’t have a red zone or any inclement weather. The map itself also has a number of unique characteristics, like landmarks and wildlife that will react to the sound of gunfire. However, its most unique elements are all gameplay-centered, including the aforementioned comeback mechanic and a new self-revive item. Players who die when playing on Taego during the game’s first Blue Zone phase will be transported to the Comeback Arena, a separate area where survivors can battle it out. Anyone that stays alive long enough in this arena will be transported back to the main map during the third Blue Zone phase. It’s worth noting that, unlike in Warzone, this feature is only available if you’re playing squads, leaving solo players out in the cold. Solo players looking for a second chance will have to get lucky and come across a Self AED. This new item will let knocked-out players revive themselves and is available in both solo and squad games. A number of other changes and additions were also made with PUBG ‘s 12.2 patch, all of which can be viewed on the game’s site .
CoD: Warzone FARA 83 nerf is finally here in the new Season 4 update
gamerevolution.com

 

 25 /192 

0.5
GitHub's Copilot Is an OpenAI-Powered Coding Partner
(1.01/6)

Some of the code in future apps, websites, and operating systems might be written by artificial intelligence. GitHub has partnered with OpenAI to develop a new technology, dubbed Copilot, to help programmers "write better code." But don't worry, the company says AI won't replace human coders. GitHub stressed that Copilot is more than a super-powered autocompletion engine similar to the ones found in existing code editors and integrated development environments (IDEs). The utility will offer autocompletion suggestions, true, but it can also write entire chunks of code with minimal user input. Some of Copilot's standout features include the ability to write tests used to check code quality, write boilerplate code, and show alternative solutions to a given coding problem. A human programmer will still have to do most of the coding, but Copilot will automatically handle some of the most repetitive tasks. Copilot was trained using "a selection of English language and source code from publicly available sources, including code in public repositories on GitHub," and it relies on a technology called OpenAI Codex that is expected to be made available to other developers via the OpenAI API "later this summer." GitHub says that it recently tested Copilot to see if it could fill in the bodies of "a set of Python functions that have good test coverage in open source repos." It was said to have succeeded on the first try 43% of the time, and when it was given 10 chances, it successfully filled in those bodies 57% of the time. Copilot "works with a broad set of frameworks and languages, but this technical preview works especially well for Python, JavaScript, TypeScript, Ruby, and Go," GitHub says. The feature will likely become more proficient with other frameworks and programming languages as its training data continues to expand. This reliance on a lot of data makes GitHub the ideal partner to test OpenAI Codex. The platform hosts many open-source projects that can be used to effectively teach Copilot and similar models how to code. The feature will get better as it becomes more popular, too, and as more projects are shared via GitHub. Copilot "requires state-of-the-art AI hardware" to function, so it's currently available to a limited number of testers as a technical preview. "When we launch a commercial product," GitHub says, "we will make it available as broadly as possible." The company didn't offer a timeline for that commercial launch.
GitHub Copilot aims to help developers write better code
sdtimes.com

 

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0.5
iPhone 12 series reached 100 million sales milestone two months faster than the iPhone 11
(1.01/6)

In context: Apple has sold more than 100 million iPhone 12 handsets since the 5G-enabled devices launched late last year according to Counterpoint Research. That’s two months faster than the iPhone 11 series and nearly the same as the iPhone 6 series, which represented Apple’s first volume supercycle. The global research firm said cumulative iPhone 12 sales crossed the 100 million unit mark in April 2021. The iPhone 6 series, if you recall, was a huge hit for Apple as it addressed pent-up demand for larger-screen iPhones and featured a significant form factor change (from flat edges to rounded edges). With the iPhone 12, Apple cashed in on another supercycle driven by the demand for 5G and OLED display tech. Apple with the iPhone 12 also reverted back to the aforementioned flat edge design. Given that iPhones are now more expensive than ever, Counterpoint Research also expects the iPhone 12 series to result in a revenue supercycle this year. Counterpoint also noticed that consumers thus far have preferred the top-end model of the iPhone 12 series. Since launch, the Pro Max version has accounted for 29 percent of iPhone 12 series sales.Last year through the same period, the highest-end model of the iPhone 11 series captured just 25 percent of sales. Image credit Marian Weyo
Apple Sold No Less than 100 Million iPhone 12 Units Since Launch
news.softpedia.com

 

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1.1
Xiaomi announces Mi Notebook Pro X 15 with OLED display and 11th gen Intel processors
(1.01/6)

Chinese OEM Xiaomi today announced its latest flagship laptop, the Mi Notebook Pro X 15. The main highlight of Mi Notebook Pro X 15 is its 15-inch 3.5K E4 OLED with 600-nits brightness,100% DCI-P3 color support and the Corning Gorilla glass protection. The Mi Notebook Pro X 15 also features a premium build quality made of CNC aluminum,17.5mm thickness, and about 1.9kg weight. Other highlights of Mi Notebook Pro X 15: Mi Notebook Pro X 15 is now available starting at $1249 in China. Source: Xiaomi
Xiaomi announces Mi Notebook Pro X 15 with 11th-gen Intel Core Processor and OLED screen
neowin.net

 

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0.3
How a Programmer Developed a Perfect Flower Recognition App
(0.90/6)

Join the DZone community and get the full member experience. Spring is a great season for hiking, especially when flowers are in full bloom. One weekend, a teacher named Jenny took her class for an outing in a park. She invited her boyfriend John along to lend her a hand. John had prepared for a carefree outdoor outing, like those in his childhood, when he would run around in the grass — but it took a different turn. His outing turned out to be something like a Q&A session that was all about flowers: the students were amazed at John’s ability to recognize flowers, and repeatedly asked him what kind of flowers they encountered. Faced with their sincere questioning and adoring expression, John, despite being a flower novice, felt obliged to give the right answer even though he had to sneak to search for it on the Internet. It occurred to John that there could be an easier way to answer these questions — using a handy app. As a programmer with a knack for the market, he soon developed a flower recognition app that is capable of turning ordinary users into expert "botanists"! To find out the name of a flower, all you need to do is use the app to take a picture of that flower and information will soon follow. Check out a demo of the app now! The flower recognition function can be created by using the image classification service in HUAWEI ML Kit. It classifies elements within images into intuitive categories to define image themes and usage scenarios. The service supports both on-device and on-cloud recognition modes, with the former recognizing over 400 categories of items and the latter 12,000 categories. It also allows for creating custom image classification models. 3. Automatically update the machine learning model. Add the following statements to the AndroidManifest.xml file. After a user installs your app from HUAWEI AppGallery, the machine learning model will be automatically updated to the user's device. 4. Configure obfuscation scripts. For details, please refer to the ML Kit Development Guide on HUAWEI Developers. 5. Declare permissions in the AndroidManifest.xml file. To obtain images through the camera or album, you'll need to apply for relevant permissions in the file. 1. Create and configure an on-cloud image classification analyzer. Create a class for the image classification analyzer. public class RemoteImageClassificationTransactor extends BaseTransactor > In the class, use the custom class ( MLRemoteClassificationAnalyzerSetting) to create an analyzer, set relevant parameters, and configure the handler. 2. Call asyncAnalyseFrame to process the image. Asynchronously classify the input MLFrame object. 3. Obtain the result of a successful classification. Override the onSuccess method in RemoteImageClassificationTransactor to display the name of the recognized object in the image. If recognition fails, handle the error and check the failure reason in the log. 4. Release resources when recognition ends. When recognition ends, stop the analyzer, release detection resources, and override the stop() method in RemoteImageClassificationTransactor. Published at DZone with permission of Irene Li. See the original article here. Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.
3 Areas of Focus to Consider When Selecting an Android Development Partner
dzone.com
16 Best Software for Task Management (Free and Paid)
dzone.com
How to Connect Redis Sentinel With Spring
dzone.com
The Importance of Defining Fairness for Decision-Making AI Models
dzone.com
Quick and Simple Logging Framework Using JSON Logger
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Spring Boot – How to Change Default Context Path Using the application. properties?
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5 Effective Methods of Ensuring Cyber Security While Using Cloud Computing
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HarmonyOS Device Location, Geocoding, and Reverse Geocoding Capabilities
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Port Operating Systems to New Chip Architectures
dzone.com

 

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0.9
All working Bubble Gum Simulator codes for free luck and hatch speed [June 2021]
(0.20/6)

Bubble Gum Simulator codes are an excellent way to increase your chances of getting something good from the game’s gacha system. While you won’t get free pets in Bubble Gum Simulator from codes, you will get significant increases in luck and hatch speed. We’ll keep our code list up to date, so check back regularly for more. Watch on YouTube What are Bubble Gum Simulator codes? How to redeem Bubble Gum Simulator codes All working Bubble Gum Simulator codes Expired Bubble Gum Simulator codes The game’s developer distributes codes on a fairly regular basis through their social media channels. Each month usually sees a few new codes. While most of them don’t expire, the rarer ones — codes for pets, for example — don’t last long. Either way, these Bubble Gum Simulator codes mean you don’t have to buy in-game boosts, which removes some of the game’s grind and helps make it more fun. As with most boosts, the time limits on these only run while you’re in the game. If you leave the game, you’ll still have however much time remained before you exited. Redeeming codes in Bubble Gum Simulator is similar to other Roblox games with codes. Find the Twitter icon, and select that. Enter the code where it says “Code Here,” choose “Enter,” and you’ll receive your rewards. These are the working Bubble Gum Simulator codes updated as of June 2021. If you’re trying to enter a code and it doesn’t work, it’s probably one of these. We’ve got plenty of additional Roblox lists for free codes too. Check out our lists of King Legacy and Blox Fruits codes for quick ways to power up your party. If you need something a bit more cuddly and laid back, though, our Adopt Me! pets list has every cuddly critter you can find and how to get them.
All Castle Clash codes and Magic Lab codes for free Gems and more [June 2021]
vg247.com
PUBG Mobile codes for free skins and fragments [June 2021]
vg247.com
All working Boku no Roblox codes for free cash [June 2021]
vg247.com
All working Build a Boat codes for free blocks, gold, and more [June 2021]
vg247.com

 

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0.9
All working Brookhaven codes for music [June 2021]
(0.16/6)

Brookhaven is different to other Roblox games. While there are no Brookhaven codes in the usual Roblox sense of getting free money or items, what you get instead is Brookhaven Music ID codes. These build out the in-game music player with specific songs, including pop hits and a few more niche selections. Best of all, these Brookhaven Music ID codes never expire, so you should be able to redeem any code on this list. Watch on YouTube What are music codes in Brookhaven? How to redeem Brookhaven codes for music All working Brookhaven codes As mentioned, music ID codes in Brookhaven are for use with the in-game music player. These songs replace the game’s soundtrack or whatever other piece you’ve chosen already. As of 2021, Brookhaven offers no other codes for in-game items or bonuses. If you’re wondering how to get a code in Brookhaven, our list is the best way. Since Brookhaven codes never expire, they aren’t refreshed every month like codes in some other Roblox games are. Launch Brookhaven, then click the speaker icon at the top of the screen. The next step is a bit confusing at first. Click “buy now” and when it asks for your Roblox ID, input the Brookhaven music code instead. Using these Brookhaven codes means you don’t have to spend any Robux, or real-world money, despite what the redeeming process makes it seem like. These are all the Brookhaven music ID codes you can use right now. As mentioned, they don’t expire so you can use them at any time. We’ve got plenty of additional Roblox lists for free codes too. Check out our lists of King Legacy and Blox Fruits codes for quick ways to power up your party. If you need something a bit more cuddly and laid back, though, our Adopt Me! pets list has every cuddly critter you can find and how to get them.
All working Heroes Online codes for rare and epic spins [June 2021]
vg247.com
All working Boku no Roblox codes for free cash [June 2021]
vg247.com
All working Build a Boat codes for free blocks, gold, and more [June 2021]
vg247.com

 

 31 /192 

0.8
The Best 75-Inch (and up) TVs for 2021
(0.06/6)

When it comes to TVs these days,65 inches isn't considered nearly as large as it used to be. Sure,65 inches is plenty big—probably too big for small rooms and apartments—but with 75- and 85-inch models becoming increasingly common, anything smaller just doesn't quite say "big-screen TV." It's also worth noting that super-big TVs are no longer super-expensive. There's no need to worry about prices reaching into five digits: Many of the extra-large TVs on the market can be found for $1,000 to $2,000. That's a pretty reasonable price for the amount of screen real estate you're getting. Put these factors together, and it's no surprise that more people are buying super-big-screen TVs than ever before. We've rounded up the top-performing models we've tested here. How Big Is Too Big? When you're shopping for a supersized TV, it's important to keep space in mind. Check the measurements of the TV and confirm that you can place it where you want in your home. If you're planning to put it on top of a piece of furniture like a console, make sure the surface is wide enough for the TV's feet, which are usually set far apart for stability. If you're planning to mount 75- or 85-inch TV on the wall, check the weight and make sure you get the right size mount, and that your wall can support it. Keep in mind big TVs can easily weigh close to 100 pounds, so you'll need a strong mount and an extra hand to install it. For more on this, see our guide on how to choose the right TV screen size. Going Even Bigger: Home Theater Projectors Rear-projection TVs might be dead, but projectors aren't. Projectors are still the most popular way to set up very big,100-inch-plus screens. Their pictures aren't nearly as bright as LCD TVs, and they can't come close to offering the contrast of LCDs or OLEDs, but what they lack in contrast they make up for in scalability. If you want to spend the cash, a good projector or array of projectors can make a picture as big as you want, from comfortably couch-sized to IMAX levels and beyond. You can find 1080p projectors for a few hundred dollars, but you should expect to pay at least $1,000 to $3,000 on one that can show 4K, and that's at the absolute lowest. Relatively small home theater projectors in this price range can produce over 300-inch pictures, but remember that the bigger the screen, the more the same amount of light (at least, if the lamp is maxed out) has to cover, and so the dimmer the picture gets. You can get much brighter and much bigger projectors as well, with prices easily hitting the tens of thousands of dollars, with the option to align multiple projectors together for really big screens to get super bright. See How We Test TVs See How We Test TVs Projectors are tricky, though. You need to place them properly, align the lens to cover the desired screen size and shape, and make sure there are no obstructions between the projector and the screen. You also need a good screen, or at least it's strongly recommended. Because projectors aren't as bright as LED-backlit LCD TVs, you want every bit of light that hits the screen to bounce off correctly into your eyes. That's why home theater screens are an important part of a projector-based home theater, with a variety of treatments available that can range from less than $100 to well over $1,000 (and far beyond that, if you're getting a custom installation with carefully hidden motorized storage and the most advanced screen materials). If you want an all-in-one projection screen, the Hisense Laser TV series offers an easy 100--inch options. These are front-projection systems that combine a short throw projector about the size of a small coffee table, with an included fixed-frame screen mounted on the wall just a few inches behind it. The most recent Laser TV, the L5, is available for around $4,000. What About LED Video Walls? This is where big screens get slightly confusing and really, really expensive. It's also where TVs get much, much bigger than 75 inches. While LED TVs are just LCD TVs with LED backlights. LED video walls are a completely different technology. They use clusters of colored light-emitting diodes to form each pixel and light it up, like OLED. The good news about LED video walls is that they can get really big. The bad news is that they have to be really big, and that's a very limiting factor if you want to fit a 4K picture in a certain space. LED video walls are commonly used for digital signage. If you see a huge light-up sign that plays video on the side of a building, it's probably an LED array. If you get close to it, like within ten feet, you can probably see the individual pixels from each relatively large LED cluster. They're great for stadiums, but not for home theaters. That's changing with miniaturized LEDs, like Samsung's microLED video wall and Sony's Crystal LED wall. These newer video walls have pixel pitches of 0.8 to 1.2mm, which means the pixels are small enough that you can sit comfortably black and not notice the individual lights. They're still huge pixels compared with LCD and OLED TVs (a 4K 80-inch TV has pixels less than 0.5mm across), but they're much smaller than the big commercial signs with lights as big as your fist. These new walls are also rare and wildly expensive. You won't find them on Amazon or at Best Buy. They're largely designed for commercial installations, which means being a big business that needs and can afford to put up a massive video wall. They're supposedly available (or will eventually be available) for consumer use, but the consumers in these cases probably have their own mansions. Where to Buy a Big TV If you want a big LCD or OLED TV, the answer is pretty simple: Go to your local electronics retailer or shop online. Huge flat panels are available through many stores and direct purchase from manufacturers. Want a 77-inch OLED? Hit up Amazon or Best Buy online, drop the cash, and it'll be on its way to you. Projectors are also readily available to consumers, to an extent. If you want to buy an entry-level to midrange home theater projector and a screen and set it all up yourself, you can. If you're planning to spend tens of thousands of dollars in putting together a really impressive home theater, though, you'll want to talk to an expert. Home theater installers, also known as custom installers, specialize in purchasing and setting up your projection system, speaker system, and even working out the construction and electrical details your dream home theater needs handled. High-end home theater equipment is usually only available through these installers, who also double as AV dealers; the really, really good projectors aren't usually available boxed on shelves at stores. As for LED video walls, that's more tricky. You'll have to contact Samsung or Sony directly, or find a contractor or installer who works with them in order to get the LED arrays sent to you, and have them properly aligned and installed. Though Samsung has recently made available one-piece consumer microLED TVs (though you won't find them at your typical Best Buy). If all you want is a big TV, though, flat panel is largely the way to go, and to that end, you really can't go wrong with the any of the top models tested here. And no matter which TV you get, make sure to check out our guides on the best picture settings and tweaks to offer a better viewing experience to get the best picture for your favorite movies, shows, and games.
The Best TVs for 2021
uk.pcmag.com
The Best 65-Inch TVs for 2021
uk.pcmag.com

 

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0.3
The best cheap MacBook deals, sales and prices in June 2021
(0.06/6)

M1 MacBook deals are offering some stunning discounts this week, with record low prices available on both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. We'd move fast on these, however, as we've already seen some configurations running out of stock and seeing as this is the first time we've seen these MacBook deals drop so low we wouldn't wait too long to take advantage. We're in a unique position when it comes to MacBook deals right now. With the launch of the 2020 M1 MacBook range, we've now got four different models to choose from, and with 2019's devices all but out the window (apart from the 16-inch MacBook Pro that is), discounts on last year's editions are working particularly hard to keep those costs down. We're bringing you all the latest cheap MacBook deals right here, so you can pick up a luxury laptop without breaking the bank. We've tracked down the latest offers for every type of Apple laptop out there (as well as the latest cheap MacBook prices on a range of older models that can save you even more cash). That means we've got you covered for the standard 12-inch MacBooks, the 13 and 16-inch MacBook Pros and if you want something that sits between the two, then you'll want to take a look at our MacBook Air section. You'll find all the best cheap Macbook deals available right now through our price comparison technology, which searches for the lowest prices from the best retailers every day. All you need to do now is work out whether it’s a MacBook, a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air that you want. We'll help though by telling you about each one of them. If you're after a performance boost, but still need that lightweight form factor, the new MacBook Air M1 might be your best bet. Don't worry though, there's a serious performance boost in this model but you're not paying as much for it as you may think. In fact, we even saw some early discounts over Black Friday 2020, so Apple certainly isn't afraid to introduce MacBook deals on this model every now and then. The new M1 chip gives Intel a serious run for its money, and battery life doesn't even suffer for it. Plus, you're getting it all for the same price as the previous model which makes this the go-to for a 2020 release right now. The original 2020 MacBook Air doesn't look quite so good now that the M1 version is out in the wild. However, as prices start to fall on the early-2020 model, you may well find some significant MacBook deals up for grabs here. You'll find Intel 10th generation processors with up to quad-core CPUs available here. Plus, this model was the first to offer 256GB of storage space at entry level, with up to 16GB RAM on offer as well. Like the M1 model, the entry level 2020 MacBook Air also starts at a lower sub-$1,000 / £1,000 price. The new M1 MacBook Pro is now available, which means you'll want to decide whether you go for a potentially cheaper price point with the previous generation or what looks like a stark performance upgrade with Apple's own chip. We've already seen some surprise price cuts over Black Friday - mere weeks after the latest MacBook Pro was released, however, which means the latest model may be more affordable than you think. The new MacBook certainly delivers on Apple's promise of a revolutionary experience. Performance sees a considerable boost from the new M1 hardware, even running legacy apps designed for previous Intel machines. Things still look pretty similar from the outside, but you're running a serious powerful machine here, with a price that even manages to undercut other high end ultrabooks in value. The 2020 MacBook Pro (Intel) does have its place in the market now that the M1 model has hit the shelves. While you're only picking 8th generation processing here, which is a little old for a laptop priced well over $1,000 / £1,000, you're able to configure far more RAM and storage in this model. That makes it a go-to if you're looking for bigger storage but you're happy to grab a cheaper processor to do so. The M1 version does retail for a similar MSRP, which would make it a go-to for most users. However, if you spot a MacBook deal below the standard $1,200 / £1,200 above, it's worth a look. Released just as 2019 was drawing to a close, the 16-inch MacBook Pro was set upon the world in order to replace the 15-inch model released earlier in the year. There's far more than a few inches tacked onto the display, however. Top of the range specs will bring you an 8-core 9th generation i9 processor,64GB RAM and an 8TB SSD - at a price that pushes $6,000. That means there's some mind-blowing power on offer here, but very few will actually get to experience it. At entry level you can expect a MacBook Pro price of just over $2,000, which is far more manageable but far from the cheap MacBook sales we all dream of. Keeping all that power contained is, of course, the larger 16-inch chassis, but there's also an improved keyboard and brighter Retina display on offer here.11 hours of battery life is an impressive feat at this spec, but if you're after a portable laptop to throw into a backpack, you might want to take a look at some smaller models - this beast weighs in at 2kg. Apple hasn't released a standard MacBook in a while, which means the prices below are likely on refurbished units. However, if you're looking for an Apple machine under $800 then this is likely your best shot. MacBooks are made to last, which means many of these older models will still hold up for everyday usage as well. This is the newest regular MacBook you can buy. The screen and compact dimensions on the 2017 MacBook are the same as the 2016 edition. The main improvement with the latest version is the inclusion of the 7th-gen Kaby Lake processors in either m3, i5 or i7 configurations. 2015 MacBook owners are the most likely to notice and appreciate the improvements, but if you're still looking for cheap MacBook deals and don't want to go near a $1,000 price tag, this could be the model for you. The internal specifications on the 2016 12-inch MacBook might be lagging behind the most recent version nowadays, but if you're not planning on pushing the device too hard with demanding tasks then it could be a great money-saving option for you. While some of the cheapest prices might be reserved for refurbs, the 2016 MacBook is still a fantastic device and it's one of the most portable options in Apple's laptop lineup. MacBook deals are hard to come by for a reason - these machines last. That means Apple rarely discounts its older laptop lines with new generations, so it's harder to find that standout price if you're willing to swallow a few years on the market. That doesn't mean you're stuck with launch prices, however. In fact, MacBook sales are fairly common around certain times of the year, and do generally fall in line with new releases. While you might not find major discounts on cheaper entry level models, those shopping for the more specced out lines can enjoy some significant price drops around the holidays and major Apple launch windows. We'll say it again, MacBooks last. Many 2015 MacBook Pros are still running healthy to this day, though you might struggle to cram the latest MacOS releases onto them. But we'll say something else again, cheap MacBooks don't tend to lose their value. That means you can easily spend $1,000 on a MacBook from before 2017 and miss out on the latest processors, RAM speeds, hardware features, and SSD storage sizes of the newer models, sitting at similar prices. That means if you do spot a particularly good MacBook deal on an older model, it may well be worth your time. If you find yourself shopping between the $1,300 and $2,000 mark, however, double check you can't pick up something newer for the same price. MacBook sales tend to offer creepingly reduced prices on the entry level Air and Pro models while reserving the big drops for the more expensive configurations. While these deals tend to stick around the same sale prices every time they are reduced, keen shoppers will notice that traditional discount does grow a little every now and then. That will knock an extra $50 off the price sporadically in order to make headlines, but it also means that if you spot a particularly good MacBook deal it's not worth sticking around and waiting for a better sale in the future. It's worth shopping older models if you're looking to score a more impressive price drop, as retailers are keen to shift these units before any big release. Shop these MacBook deals if you're after a bigger spec in particular, as you'll often find the older mid-range models offering bigger power than entry level fresh releases for either the same price or slightly less. However, it's always worth keeping one eye on the prices of those latest versions. As we've learned with the 2020 MacBook Air, Apple is looking to make the MacBook more cost effective moving forwards. That means you might be able to find MacBook deals offering entry level new releases for less than their ancestors.
The cheapest Nintendo Switch Lite prices, sales and bundle deals in June 2021
techradar.com
The best cheap iPad deals in June 2021
techradar.com

 

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1.0
Satya Nadella on LinkedIn: Millions are using a free skills program to find unexpected career
(0.04/6)

We and third parties such as our customers, partners, and service providers use cookies and similar technologies ("cookies") to provide and secure our Services, to understand and improve their performance, and to serve relevant ads (including job ads) on and off LinkedIn. For more information, see our Cookie Policy. Select Accept cookies to consent to this use or Manage preferences to make your cookie choices. You can change your cookie choices and withdraw your consent in your settings at any time.
Satya Nadella on LinkedIn: AT&T to run its mobility network on Microsoft’s Azure for Operators
linkedin.com

 

 34 /192 

0.5
Chromebooks vs laptops: which is the best for students?
(0.03/6)

The battle between Chromebooks vs laptops has always been inevitable, and much more so in the budget price range where many students are going to be looking. Although Chromebooks and laptops can be vastly different in terms of specs and capabilities, they have many similarities in terms of form, function and target audience. So, a side-by-side rundown is only fair. If you’re trying to decide between a traditional Windows PC laptop and a Chromebook, you’re not alone. Many people really don’t know the difference between the two – or even what a Chromebook is really. That’s on top of the fact that choosing the ideal portable for you is already a tough enough task if you aren’t familiar with computers and their components. That’s where we come in. We’ll make the Chromebooks vs laptops debate easier for you to digest, in order to help you decide which portable is most ideal for you. Whether that means it’s the best laptop for college or the best Chromebook for students you need, we’ll help you make the right choice. Deciding between Chromebooks vs laptops doesn’t have to be a hard choice. Working remotely? Let us show you how to use Microsoft Teams on a Chromebook, how to use Zoom on a Chromebook, and how to screenshot on a Chromebook. First thing’s first. You likely already know what a laptop is. However, before you delve into the Chromebooks vs laptops rabbit hole, you must first understand what a Chromebook is and how it differs from a traditional laptop. So, let’s start there. A Chromebook is a laptop that runs on Google’s Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system that largely relies on the Chrome browser as its main user interface. This means that anything you can do with the Chrome browser, you can do on a Chromebook. That doesn’t mean that you can only use a Chromebook when there’s an internet connection. Google has designed Chrome OS to be able to run apps from the Chrome Web Store or the Google Play Store on which there are thousands to choose from to cover all the basics – from word processors and spreadsheets to quick photo editing and light gaming. And, many of these apps work even when a Chromebook isn’t connected to the internet. To the untrained eye, a Chromebook and a laptop may look the same. After all, a Chromebook is technically a laptop, just with a different operating system. Both are notebooks with a keyboard, a camera, a built-in screen, and a trackpad. And, just like laptops, many Chromebooks are clamshells, while quite a few others tout touchscreen displays and a 2-in-1 form factor. Internally, however, the two couldn’t be more different. If you’re doing a Chromebooks vs laptops comparison in terms of power, a strong case is made for laptops. That’s because typically they have more capable microprocessors – usually from Intel or AMD – and more robust integrated or discrete graphics powering them. On the other hand, Chromebooks usually have lower-performing chips and graphics inside, although a handful of premium Chromebooks have been known to run on Intel Core chips. The reason for this is two-fold: the Chrome OS is lightweight enough that it really doesn’t need a powerful chip to run, and it keeps the cost of Chromebooks down. Traditional laptops run on much more robust operating systems Windows 10, macOS and Linux, an open source operating system. These Windows laptops and MacBooks usually require high-powered graphics cards and processors, as well as faster memory, which means they tend to cost more. The upside is that students can use the same computer to write a term paper on that they do to play Overwatch post-homework. Windows laptops also usually have a lot of local storage, from 128GB on the low end – those apps and files, after all, take up a lot more space. Chromebooks typically include about 16GB of storage. This is because Chrome OS, and the apps it runs, do not need as much storage space as Windows and are designed to save your documents to the cloud. A Chromebook is a good choice for a student that is primarily using the computer for web browsing, word processing, or streaming video and audio. Storage isn't a problem if Google-focused students can store their files with Drive. They can also use SD cards and USB drives to keep hold of their documents. A Chromebook is also a great low-cost option, with prices dipping as low as $100/£120/AU$140 during the holiday season for the low-end models. However, the price of a Chromebook can skyrocket to $1,000/£1,000/AU$1,400 if you choose a corporate or luxury option like the Google Pixelbook. For school work, the Chromebook is a winner because it has so few features. Without extra games or a lot of applications, the Chromebook becomes a homework powerhouse, allowing students to access their lessons online with few distractions. Students can write their papers with Google Docs and share their work straight from the Chromebook to their teacher or parent, no printing necessary. The Microsoft Office suite is also available online, so students can create Word documents with ease. The Chromebook is also just a hard device to break. If your student is prone to installing virus-laden programs, the Chromebook can be wiped and reset with ease. If the child isn't particularly tech-savvy, there are few confusing functions: the Chromebook is a plug in and play device. Some of the newer Chromebooks are a little more delicate physically, but most can take a tumble, as many of the parts are plastic. As for a Windows laptop, it's more of an investment, but it provides a lot of versatility and convenience. You have the ability to create almost anything on a laptop and store files on it as well. A laptop also has a lot of the drawbacks of owning a full-fledged computer. It will take time to boot up, it will require updates, and even the occasional "blue screen of death" can occur. Chromebooks very rarely crash, and when they do, a simple restart is an easy fix. However, there are some tasks that are just easier on a Windows device. Chromebooks have traditionally struggled with direct printing, while laptops make quick work of printing out documents. Accessing and organizing files can also be a bit of a pain on the Chromebook, but there are workarounds. In some way, though, a Windows laptop's versatility is a weakness, as there are more features available for hackers to attack on a laptop. PCs need regular maintenance to keep them secure, even if it's just keeping on top of scheduled software updates. Chromebooks require far less upkeep, and Google has developed Chromebooks with safety and security in mind, and there are defenses working behind the scenes to keep you protected while you browse the web. One way to determine the right option for you is to give a Chromebook a test drive. You could try using Google Chrome exclusively as your browser on your desktop computer for a few days, and determine whether your student needs more features than the browser can provide. Only use Chrome extensions, and use online apps like Google Docs. However, Windows offers a far more complete computing experience, but Google OS is a much cheaper, scaled down alternative that may be just what your student needs in the classroom.
Best Chromebooks 2021: the top Chromebooks for kids, students and more
techradar.com

 

 35 /192 

0.4
Windows 11 Ruins the “Show Desktop” Button, Hopefully Just a Glitch
(0.03/6)

Windows 11 comes with lots of smaller refinements in addition to the ones announced by Microsoft earlier this month, yet one of the changes that may not be everybody’s cup of tea concerns the Show Desktop button integrated into the taskbar. Since Windows 7, Microsoft’s operating system comes with a Show Desktop button that is part of the taskbar and sits in the lower right corner. When clicked, this button takes you directly to the desktop, minimizing all open windows and therefore providing you with an easy way to see the desktop. In Windows 11, however, Microsoft has quietly changed the button and made it so much thinner up to a point where you can barely click it correctly. The button no longer covers the entire lower right corner, as it now seems to come in the form of a 1px line that’s much more difficult to click. And to be honest, I can only hope this isn’t the intended behavior and hopefully, Microsoft would resolve the whole thing in the coming updates before Windows 11 makes its way to production devices. In the meantime, while so many users are struggling with this new Show Desktop button, there’s an easy workaround that lets you go directly to the desktop without click this thin line in Windows 11. It’s the Windows key + D shortcut, which replaces the Show Desktop button, though it goes without saying not everybody is a fan of hotkeys. Of courses, there are also ways to adjust the Show Desktop button yourselves from the Registry Editor, yet on the other hand, it’s not the kind of workaround that everybody can turn to. Microsoft hasn’t said anything about the Show Desktop button in Windows 11, so fingers crossed for future builds to bring it back to the Windows 10 version.
Windows 11 Preview Build Actually RTM as Core OS Already Done
news.softpedia.com

 

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The best mobile VPN apps 2021
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Having a VPN is such a handy bit of software, it's no great surprise that you're trying to work out what the best mobile VPN app to download is. The top mobile VPNs can do so much more than protect your data – the power to unblock regional Netflix libraries, avoid trackers and access ISP-blocked websites will be at your fingertips. Many providers have fantastically-designed mobile VPN apps for all your devices – iOS and Android universally included – and allow you to use your subscription to protect yourself on public Wi-Fi networks, access online banking securely and stream with impunity while out and about. To make our top five list of best mobile VPNs, services must have both impeccable desktop performance and provide mobile customers exactly the same security and freedom when they’re on the move. Today's top 3 best mobile VPN apps: Best mobile VPN 2021 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan If you’re after the best all-round mobile VPN service, look no further than ExpressVPN. This service also tops our overall best VPN list, and that’s in part due to the great functionality of its iOS and Android apps. The apps provide a straightforward overview of all the functions available, including split tunnelling, protocol selection and location picker to name a few. Unusually, it’s actually simpler to access some of ExpressVPN’s additional features through the app rather than the desktop client – this includes displaying your current IP, DNS or WebRTC leak detection and a secure password generator. Both iOS and Android VPN apps are simple to install, and after a moment of authorising system permissions you’ll have your mobile device protected. A nice addition is the ability to switch servers in one tap without closing your current connection. A simple touch, but one we’d miss if it wasn’t available. Beneath the clean app design, though, is still ExpressVPN’s renowned reliability and swift connection speeds – this is no mere facade. You’ll receive exactly the same customer support through the app as you will through the desktop client, be able to browse numerous Netflix libraries and, most importantly, keep your mobile device as secure as your desktop at home. And talking of other devices, ExpressVPN has some of the most wide and varied compatibility of any provider out there. While NordVPN does everything you’d expect from a premium VPN service, those who look a little deeper will notice that there are some useful, unusual features lurking under the hood. These include double data encryption and Onion support, NordVPN’s own CyberSec technology, a clear no-log policy and P2P support. Plenty going on, then. A real plus is the high-speed proprietary NordLynx protocol built around WireGuard – which is exclusive to Linux and iOS users. Those toting an iPhone or iPad can select NordLynx and be treated to near-unaffected connection speeds while still remaining anonymous online. We found both the iOS and Android apps slightly hindered by the choice to use the map-based location selector tool as the default view. We’d much prefer to have seen a list from the get-go, but fortunately it’s only a swipe away. Otherwise, NordVPN provides stellar mobile service, and is an especially great choice for iOS users. Surfshark is a great option if you’re looking for one of the best value cheap VPNs around to use on your smartphone. The headline of a two-year plan for under $2.50/£2 a month is enough to draw many in, but Surfshark doesn’t scrimp on features either. The mobile offerings are near enough indistinguishable from the easy-to-use desktop client, and include essential features like split tunnelling, plenty of server locations and a selection of protocols to choose from. Connection speeds have proven to be stable, with Android users being treated to a choice of encryption methods, the option of using small packets to optimise mobile data use, and even a fake GPS tool to help completely spoof your location. However, for those with more devices than USB ports to charge them from, Surfshark’s unlimited connections will be indispensable – you’ll be able to stay covered on your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S21, Microsoft Surface Go, Mac Pro, smart TV, Wi-Fi router… With a single subscription to Surfshark, you’ll be able to protect pretty much anything you own that can connect to the internet. Private Internet Access (also known by the abbreviated PIA) offers the basic necessities of a VPN alongside some really useful extra features – all for a great price, too. And, while the apps are pleasingly minimalist, they pack in more functionality than many desktop VPN clients. Most VPNs have stark differences between their iOS and Android offerings, but PIA’s apps are incredibly similar – good to see if you’re a user of both, or you’ve found that your device gets the raw end of the deal from other VPNs. Both apps offer split tunnelling, protocol switching, the choice between UDP or TCP connections, the ability to use your preferred DNS and more. There’s a lot of power here. PIA also even offers their own secure browser InBrowser – but that’s also available free without purchase of the VPN. For a combination of usability, value and in-depth tuning of your VPN experience, PIA is a tempting proposition. And that's born out by how much the mobile VPN's users seem to like it - whether in the App Store or Play store, it consistently delivers excellent user ratings. We realise full well that it's far from the main concern, but it's clear that Windscribe gives a lot of consideration to the way its mobile VPN apps look and feel. Whether on iOS or Android, they're fantastic apps to look at and use. But this is a world away from style over substance, with Windscribe backing things up beneath the skin. WireGuard has now been rolled out across all clients and mobile apps, meaning that you can get faster connections and enhanced connection reliability. Windscribe isn't in the same echelon as others on this list when it comes to choosing a VPN for streaming, but if that's not at the top of your agenda then you'll be happy with the provider's easy menu of protocols. Features like split tunnelling and a handy Network Whitelist that automatically turns on the VPN when you hit untrusted networks are also genuinely useful added bonuses. And don't forget that Windscribe has a full free version (so not just a VPN with a free trial), letting you try before you buy. Just be wary of the data and server restrictions on that no-cost version. When looking at mobile VPN apps, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly – and most importantly for the majority of users – is it easy to use? If you’re stuck three taps deep in a settings menu just to change your server, you’re not going have a good time using the app in the long term. Simplicity rules here, and all the VPNs on this list are clean and clear. Secondly, make sure there’s enough functionality compared to the desktop client. Many VPNs offer incredibly in-depth settings on their PC VPN for Windows, but open the app and you might struggle to find options you’ve grown used to. Many users won’t care about things like switching protocols or UDP/TCP, but if you do – or think you might ever have the urge to investigate – make sure the app is powerful enough for you. Finally, value! There are a lot of top-quality VPNs out there now, so there’s no point paying through the nose for an average service. The very best will never be the cheapest (and free VPNs aren't an ideal solution), but weigh up your budget and your needs to find a happy medium. Protection on public Wi-Fi networks is at the top of the list. Whether you’re in a supermarket, on a train, at hospital or working away in a café, using public Wi-Fi exposes you to unencrypted connections, leaving your logins and personal information up for grabs. A mobile VPN can also help you save money shopping online. Many sites charge different prices depending on your IP address, so by moving your location around you’ll be able to find the best deals on whatever you’re looking for. Finally, everyone’s favourite trick: access geo-blocked Netflix libraries with a VPN. All the VPNs on this list can give you access to Netflix all over the world. So, wherever you are – bus, train, on the toilet – you’ll be able to watch whatever you want on your mobile device. All you need to do is pick your choice from this list, and bask in the glory of true freedom on the internet. Read more:
The best iPad VPN 2021
techradar.com

 

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The Best Rugged Laptops for 2021
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Who's tougher, Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham? The answer (obviously, Chuck Norris) is about as inconclusive as advertisements for laptops with vague, overlapping descriptions like "semi-rugged," "fully rugged," and "business-rugged." But the need for notebooks (and tablets) that can take a licking and keep on clicking is very real. Let's be clear right up front about one thing: When PCMag refers to "rugged laptops," we're not talking to business travelers worried about a little turbulence knock-about in an airline overhead compartment. Really rugged laptops are vertical-market dwellers, designed for work in the field or on factory floors. They may be carried by first responders or military personnel, or get mounted on police-car dashboards. They may have to survive being rained on or dropped six feet onto a hard surface, or work through freezing or broiling temperatures, or keep from getting clogged up by clouds of blowing dust or sand. What's the price you pay for such super-sturdy survivability? One is, indeed, the literal price: Rugged laptops cost a lot more than their civilian counterparts. Two, the weight: A laptop with virtual armor plating can test your biceps to the tune of 10 pounds, an immense burden compared to the three or four pounds of most laptops. That's why many of the true-blue rugged models come with pop-out carrying handles. (Photo: Zlata Ivleva) Still, for users who need serious computing power in hostile environments, there's no substitute for a laptop that can laugh off mistreatment that would destroy an ordinary machine. Let's run through the key things to look for as you shop. And we'll guide you to reviews of some of our favorite true-rugged laptops. Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Business Table Stakes: MIL-STD 810G Before we get into brawny machines that can survive six-foot drops and jets of water, we must acknowledge that not all mainstream notebooks are frail and fragile. Some Lenovo ThinkPads, HP EliteBooks, and other business systems are reasonably resistant to bumps and bruises, though they can't survive high dives or liquids in excess of minor keyboard spills. Even some Chromebooks carry the same designation as these hardy travelers—MIL-STD 810G, which indicates compliance with a series of tests required for the US Department of Defense to consider using a piece of equipment in a military setting. (Photo: Zlata Ivleva) The MIL-STD 810G standard spans over 800 pages and nearly 30 laboratory test methods for challenges ranging from weather (high and low temperatures, rain, and humidity) to physical forces (acceleration, vibration, and shock). Few computer vendors push their products over every hurdle that the standard posits, including such tortures as gunfire-recoil shock, icing or freezing rain, whether a laptop might spark an explosion in flammable-gas atmospheres, and—wait for it—resistance to fungus. Rather, the manufacturer may note that the system has passed, say,10 or 12 MIL-STD tests. The trouble with a MIL-STD 810G sticker on a laptop's box or a vendor's website is that it doesn't tell you enough. Because no independent agency certifies MIL-STD compliance, it's up to you to look for documentation or details of which tests a product passed, who conducted the tests—the manufacturer, or an outside lab—and how the tests were performed. For example, since users are prone to drop laptops, certification for shock is a popular claim. But there's no rule about what height to drop a device from. Does this make the certification useless? Not at all. Just think of it as a checklist item or the first thing to look for, rather than a guarantee of bulletproof reliability, and be aware that you need to read the fine print. Braving the Elements: IP Ratings A more stringent abbreviation seen on seriously sturdy laptops is a code such as "IP65." The IP stands for "ingress protection"—the ability to keep solids or liquids out of the machine's vulnerable innards. This rating is measured numerically, rather than by general terms such as "dustproof" or "water-resistant." You can read our primer on IP and MIL-STD ratings for full details, but here's IP in a nutshell. The first digit after the letters "IP" denotes safety against solids, on a scale of 0 to 6. The number 2 means you can't stick your fingers into the device. The number 4 means the system is proof against objects larger than 1mm, such as most wires; 5 means some and 6 means complete protection against dust and sand. The second digit after IP measures protection against liquids, this time on a scale of 0 to 9. A device rated 1 can resist a few vertical drips; 4 means splashing water and 5 means jets of water; and 7 and 8 refer to immersion in less than one meter, and in one to three meters, of water respectively. Unlike some smartphones, no laptop that we know of is safe to wholly submerge, so don't expect to see a liquids rating higher than 5. (Photo: Zlata Ivleva) A sure sign that a manufacturer is serious about an IP rating is sealed ports—doors that cover connectors such as USB ports and HDMI video outputs. Differences in these doors can contribute to differences in ratings: Those of the Dell Latitude 5424 Rugged, for instance, snap securely shut as part of the system's IP52 score... (Photo: Zlata Ivleva) The doors covering the Latitude 7424 Rugged Extreme 's ports, by contrast, are waterproof, with sliding lockable latches. That laptop's rating is IP65... (Photo: Zlata Ivleva) Assessing the Chassis Other things to look for in a rugged laptop start at first sight—its outer case or chassis. Obviously, the thin plastic of many consumer models turns to shrapnel when faced with what rugged PCs go through, though it's amazing what a little reinforcement can do. For example, classroom-computer specialist CTL says the lid of its Chromebook NL61TX (supplanted since our review by the NL7X) can withstand the weight of a few books piled on it in a desk or backpack—can withstand, in fact,365 pounds of pressure before the screen breaks. More common chassis materials include magnesium or magnesium-aluminum alloys, with rubber or rubberized bumpers on a laptop's corners a popular protective measure against drops. The Dell Latitude 7424 mentioned earlier, for one, has a steel-reinforced security lock. We've already discussed doors that cover ports, but as with any laptop, you should consider which ports you need. Machines built for duty on factory floors are among the last that still have RS-232 serial ports, often used for connection to legacy data-collection equipment. Others feature modular or swappable bays for storage drives or batteries, or slots for mobile-broadband SIM cards so you can go online when out in the field, away from Wi-Fi hotspots. (Photo: Zlata Ivleva) While you can't see them easily, many rugged laptops have specially shock-mounted components. It was a boon for the category when jolt-resistant solid-state drives (SSDs) replaced relatively delicate spinning hard drives, but some vendors go beyond that—the Panasonic Toughbook 31 actually has a heated SSD that keeps working in frigid temperatures. Real Hands-On Issues: Factoring in Gloves and Rain Virtually all laptop screens are good enough for work in your average office. Take one outside, however, and it's a whole different story. Looking at a typical display panel in direct sunlight can render it invisible, without enough contrast to make out more than the palest ghost of an image. That's why many rugged laptops boast extra-bright displays, with 1,000 or more nits of brightness compared to the 200 to 400 of most indoors-optimized systems. You'll also find reinforced glass to combat cracking or shattering, though you almost certainly won't find the 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) resolution of conventional flagship laptops—rugged screens tend to peak at full HD or 1080p (1,920 by 1,080 pixels), with some settling for even lower, older resolutions such as 1,024 by 768. On these laptops, note that touch screens are a special case. Most of today's touch-screen notebooks use capacitive technology, in which a near-transparent digitizing layer over the panel detects your finger via the electrical conductivity of your skin. Fine, but what if you're wearing gloves? Oops—capacitive tech doesn't work. The solution is resistive touch-screen design, in which—with a slightly harder push from you—the top layer flexes to close a circuit with another layer beneath it. (Photo: Zlata Ivleva) The same goes for the touchpads located in laptops' palm rests. Capacitive pads are no good if you're wearing gloves or if it's raining, whereas a two-layer resistive touchpad can track in wet or adverse conditions. On the minus side, you may discover that a resistive pad requires so much pressure that it feels clumsy with a dry, bare finger. (Photo: Zlata Ivleva) I mentioned that many business systems have spill-resistant keyboards and drainage holes in their bottoms to save your bacon if you spill a few ounces of water, so it's no surprise that rugged keyboards are designed not to drown with even greater amounts. Depending on the weather where you work, some manufacturers offer a choice of keyboards built for wet or wetter conditions, the latter with rubberized or coated keys that sacrifice a little typing feel to provide extra protection. So, Which Rugged Laptop Should I Buy? Time to look at some tougher-than-average laptops and convertibles! The models below are some of our favorites. At a minimum, they've passed MIL-STD tests; at the maximum, they're the next best thing to bulletproof. We'll refresh this guide as we review additional true-rugged systems. Thanks for reading, and let's be careful out there.
The Best Laptops for 2021
uk.pcmag.com

 

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Horizon Forbidden West release date, trailer, news and rumors
(0.02/6)

Horizon Forbidden West is the long-awaited sequel to the critically-acclaimed Horizon Zero Dawn and it's coming to PS5, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, PS4 sometime in 2021. Horizon Forbidden West continues Aloy's story, and takes her to a post-apocalyptic western United State to recover a piece of ancient technology needed to stop a mysterious threat. The game will offer a whole new open world to explore replete with new machines, gadgets for traversal and weapons. In the latest 14-minute trailer for the game shown during the May 2021 State of Play, we got a chance to see Aloy in action using the new grappling hook, breathing mask and glider to easily navigate the ruins and rubble of the coastal environments, as well as two new weapons to take down a mammoth-like Tremortusk. The visuals look stunning, but it is – admittedly – still a work in progress and a solid release date is yet to be confirmed. Want all the juicy details? Here's what we know about Horizon Forbidden West so far, including its release date, trailer and more. While the Horizon Forbidden West release date was notably absent from the gameplay reveal, developer Guerrilla Games released a dev diary video last year confirming that the Horizon Zero Dawn sequel will release in 2021. We now know it will also come to PS4, too – meaning you won't have to upgrade to new hardware to play the game. Developer Guerrilla Games took to Twitter shortly after the May 2021 State of Play to address the absence of a confirmed release date for Horizon Forbidden West. While offering nothing concrete, Guerrilla reassured fans that "development is on track" and will have more updates "very soon." Back in February, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan told GQ he felt "pretty good" that Horizon Forbidden West will still arrive in 2021. Fairly recent social media advertisements have also stated that Horizon Forbidden West will arrive in "late 2021" or "second half of 2021", meaning it's likely we won't see the game until the tail end of this year. However, PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst has expressed a cautious approach to the release date, saying in a PlayStation Blog Post: “We think we are on track to release this holiday season. But that isn’t quite certain yet, and we’re working as hard as we can to confirm that to you as soon as we can.” We got our latest look at Horizon Forbidden West during a May 2021 State of Play.14 minutes of gameplay were shown off, giving us a better idea of what we can expect from Aloy's adventures out west. Watch it for yourself below: Sony and Guerrilla Games revealed the first Horizon Forbidden West trailer at the PS5 games reveal event on June 11, 2020. The trailer below provides a three-minute glimpse at the kinds of varied landscapes you'll explore in the second game, and which machines you can expect to fight (mammoths and alligators, by the looks of it). We also get the sense that Horizon Forbidden West will be heavy on underwater gameplay, based on how much of a big deal the trailer makes of Aloy using her scuba gear at the 1:40 mark above, and the shots of underwater ruined cities. We know that Horizon Forbidden West sees Aloy traveling to post-apocalyptic California and will feature locations such as San Francisco and Yosemite. Based on the trailer it seems like Aloy's journey could take her all over the Western Seaboard, down the coast to Mexico, and potentially back out east to the Caribbean Sea. Along the way, we'll see a bunch of new enemies, including the velociraptor-esque Clawstriders and some new aquatic machines that look pretty intimidating. To make matters worse, raiders have learned to control some of the machines, making Aloy's life out west that much harder. We'll learn more about the game's plot as we move closer to launch, but the key point is that there's a blight that could destroy all of the life on the planet – and it's up to Aloy and her crew to stop it before it does. We've compiled all the latest Horizon Fordbiden West news and rumors below for your perusal: Developing for PS4 hasn't held anything back Horizon Forbidden West is coming to PS4 and PS5 but according to the game’s director, getting the game ready for last-gen’s consoles hasn’t held it back or forced the team to scale back. Speaking with Hardware Zone (via VGC), Mathijs de Jonge said, “I don’t think the cross-generation development was limiting in any way. When we started with the concept of this game, we had so many great ideas that ended up being included – to the point that we didn’t really think about hardware limitations or anything, we just wanted to design a really nice, unique experience for the player. An awesome adventure. “That’s how we also brainstormed all the quests and events the player is going to go through.” That said, there are differences between what the consoles can do and de Jonge added, “I think that the big delta between these two consoles, apart from the 3D audio, quick loading and DualSense of course, is on the graphical side of things. On the PlayStation 5, we can add so much more detail graphically. We can see the tiny hairs on Aloy’s face, for example. You can also see a ton of detail from far away.” This lines up with a previous interview with Game Informer, in which de Jonge revealed that “A lot of the development has taken place on the PlayStation 4, and a lot of playtesting has been done on PlayStation 4. So we are ensuring that owners of that console have a great experience and the game will look fantastic on that console.” Huge variety of weapons Writing in a PlayStation Blog post, Narrative Director Ben McCaw explained how Aloy will have a "huge variety of weapons" at her disposal, with combat having an emphasis on tactics and choice. "Aloy’s trusty Spear is good for close combat and enables a new set of combos," McCaw wrote. "Bows with specialized ammo types strip armor off machines to expose their weak spots. Adhesive grenades can be fired from slingshots, temporarily stalling foes. Plus many more, and all of them can be upgraded at a workbench." New tools Aloy will have a bunch of new tools at her disposal in Horizon Forbidden West, according to Narrative Director Ben McCaw. Writing in a PlayStation Blog post, McCaw said: "This dangerous and unfamiliar land is full of challenges and threats, but Aloy will have new tools to help her on her way. The Pullcaster speeds up climbing, getting her quickly out of trouble; the Shieldwing allows her to safely descend from great heights (or surprise enemies from above); and with the Diving Mask, a whole new underwater world is open for exploration. Not to mention big upgrades to her Focus, which now shows areas that allow free-climbing and gives her the ability to override more machines for mounts or combat." 60fps mode and other advantages on PS5 In an interview with French YouTube content creator Julien Chièze, Guerrilla Games confirmed that the PS5 version of Horizon Forbidden West will feature a 60fps mode, double the frame rate of the original PS4 game and the recent gameplay footage. It's not clear at this time what visual cutbacks (lower resolution, for example) will be required to achieve this frame rate, though. In an interview with Game Informer, Game Director Mathijs de Jonge said that because of its power, “the PlayStation 5 can go much further [than the PlayStation 4]”. De Jonge explained that, “Visually we can add a lot more detail. Graphically, the rendering technique for the underwater scenes is special for the PlayStation 5, it has extra details and extra systems, like the wave technique is better on that system.” On top of this, “The lighting on Aloy on PlayStation 5 has much more definition,” as they “use a special cinematic lighting rig, that on the PlayStation 4 is only used in cutscenes because the game is not running and we have more processing power in those scenes. But with the PlayStation 5 we have plenty of processing power, so we can have that lighting rig always available, so she always looks great with that lighting setup traveling with her anywhere.” But PS4 owners shouldn’t be worried about the game’s performance. According to de Jonge, “A lot of the development has taken place on the PlayStation 4, and a lot of playtesting has been done on PlayStation 4. So we are ensuring that owners of that console have a great experience and the game will look fantastic on that console.” In the "last stages of development" Horizon Forbidden West doesn’t have a solid release date just yet but in an interview with Hardware Zone, game director Mathijs de Jonge has said that it’s in the “last stages of development”. “We have just successfully completed our beta milestone, which is pretty far along,” said De Jonge. “We’re now in the final stages of development. So we are polishing the game and fixing bugs. We are also wrapping up certain aspects of the game, like some of the machines being behind schedule - because it takes an enormous amount of time to build them. We’re working on the final cinematic. So, we’re really wrapping up. There’s still a lot to do with a game of this size and magnitude, but we’re in the final stages.” This comes not long after PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst expressed a cautious approach to the release date, saying in a PlayStation Blog Post: “We think we are on track to release this holiday season. But that isn’t quite certain yet, and we’re working as hard as we can to confirm that to you as soon as we can.” So, while anything could happen with the game’s final release date at the moment, it is in its final stages. Climb anywhere and swim underwater in a larger world Following the new footage of Horizon Forbidden West revealed during the recent State of Play, Game Director Mathijs de Jonge and Narrative Director Benjamin McCaw spoke to IGN, touching on some of the advancements players can expect to see in the sequel. Players can, for example, expect more freedom in free climbing, with de Jonge saying, “In terms of the traversal and the human combat, this was a point from Horizon Zero Dawn, where we wanted to improve the mechanics…you can now free climb anywhere in the world” thanks to an “automatic system that just detects if there is a latch somewhere in the geometry [of rocks, cliffs and mountain sides].” Horizon Forbidden West will also have a larger, more dense game world than Zero Dawn. According to de Jonge: “The map is a little bit bigger, but in general, we’ve really looked at increasing the density, and adding more content, making sure there’s a lot more to do for the player across the map, and then making that content also engaging by telling little micro-stories.” Some of the additional breadth and depth in the world is coming from new underwater exploration. Benjamin McCaw explained that “Exploration is really the theme. And it’s not enough for us to just show underwater. We wanted to make sure that it’s every bit as beautiful as what you see in the natural world above it. But it wasn’t just enough that you could swim around underwater. We wanted to do some things that are really surprising and interesting. And I think that’s where some of the story stuff comes in, and we just absolutely can’t wait for players to see what they’re going to experience.” A brand new skill tree and how Valor Surge works In an interview with Game Informer, game director Mathijs De Jonge revealed that Horizon Forbidden West's skill tree hasn't simply been updated since the first game, instead the previous skill tree has been "completely redesigned and repopulated with new skills", with new options to allowing players to upgrade Aloy's skills to suit their playstyle. De Jonge also explained how the skill tree is how players will be able to unlock 'Valor Surges', the powerful electric move we saw Aloy unleash during the recent Horizon Forbidden West gameplay reveal. According to De Jonge, Valor Surges are unlocked by spending skill points in the skill tree, with players then being able to choose which Valor Surge is active at any moment. To unleash a Valor Surge move, the Valor Surge bar in the bottom right of the screen needs to be filled. This is done by "playing technically", headshotting humans or removing components from enemies, which will reward players with specific technical combat XP, which is its own point system, that can be spent in the skill tree. Guerrilla Games also revealed that Horizon Forbidden West will have full PS5 3D audio and DualSense support, a new free-climbing system and a new melee system that allows for combos. Virtually no loading screens During a dev diary video from Guerrilla Games, Horizon Forbidden West game director Mathijs de Jonge explained how the sequel will utilize the PS5's super-fast SSD. "With the PS5's SSD, there will be virtually no loading screens," Jonge said in the video. "In an open-world game like Horizon Forbidden West, if you open up the map and fast travel from one end to the other, or restart from a checkpoint, it will be super fast. When you boot up the game, you're right there in the action." Check out the video below: Adaptive triggers You can expect improved use of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the PS5, and Horizon Forbidden West is no exception, with its unique mix of bows, slings, and ropecasters. Guerrilla Game Director, Mathijs de Jonge, has said that "The DualSense wireless controller adaptive triggers will help us to make the weapons feel even more unique and satisfying to use."
Halo Infinite release date, trailers, multiplayer, gameplay and news
techradar.com

 

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Fortnite Season 7 Week 4 Alien Artifact Locations Guide
(0.02/6)

The players can now collect the Alien Artifacts for Week 4, with a total of 5 new artifacts being added this season. We’ll be detailing each of the Fortnite Season 7 Week 4 Alien Artifact Locations for you to collect and unlock cosmetic options for the Kymera skin. Counting to this week’s Alien Artifacts, you should have a grand total of 80 in your inventory if you’ve been keeping up with us! Like every week, we’ve brought you Fortnite Season 7 Week 4 Alien Artifact Locations in this guide. Time to start hunting and completing this week’s challenges and if you are missing any from the previous weeks of Season 7, you can always go back and collect those Fortnite Chapter 2 alien artifacts as well. One can also get Alien Artifacts from the Cosmic Chests, but they will offer the fewer amount of Artifacts. Although cosmic chests offer fewer numbers of Alien Artifacts, still they can add some of them to the stocks, so one should try to find max All you need to know are the locations of these artifacts, and we will be guiding you to find each location. This week presents Alien Artifacts in five locations around the map. Finding them all is important for customizing your Fortnite Kymera skin. Here, you will find the first Week 4 Alien Artifact on a pipe connected adjacent to the building. Following is the image showing the marked location on the map. After reaching Dirty Docks, head towards the stairs that lead towards the blue warehouse. You will find the second Week 4 Alien Artifact under the stairs. Here is the image of the map. Here, head to the central red building. Outside the building, you will find some plants, and the third Week 4 Alien Artifact is hidden on one of the shelves in these plants. After reaching this place, one can see the two buildings. Enter the smaller building, and here you can find the fourth Week 4 Alien Artifact on the second floor close to a window. The image below marks the location clearly. Move towards the yellow house right at the corner. Here, move to the shed, and here is the fifth Week 4 Alien Artifact hidden. The marked image will let you reach the destination easily.
How to Visit Farmer Steel’s Favorite Places in Fortnite Season 7
segmentnext.com

 

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0.8
Save 70% off on a lifetime subscription to Lightkey Pro
(0.02/6)

Today's highlighted deal comes via our Apps + Software section of the Neowin Deals store, where you can save 70% off on a lifetime subscription to Lightkey Pro. With AI-powered text predictions in 85 languages, this app takes your typing experience to the next level. You are one click away from the future of typing. Express yourself faster using the world’s leading word prediction software for Windows. Lightkey’s AI-Powered word prediction software learns your typing patterns and gradually predicts up to 12 words including punctuation marks, allowing you to compose emails 4 times faster, with confidence. It also includes over 60 content domains including technology, business, finance, law, academia, and more. Using its deep learning context analysis capabilities, Lightkey will offer you the most relevant terms. Lightkey works for just about any application you use on a day-to-day basis. A lifetime subscription to Lightkey Pro normally costs $169, but you can pick it up for just $49.99 for a limited time - that represents a saving of $119.01 (70% off). For a full description, specs, and license info, click the link below. That's OK, there are other deals on offer you can check out here. Neowin Deals · Free eBooks · Neowin Store Disclosure: This is a StackCommerce deal or giveaway in partnership with Neowin; an account at StackCommerce is required to participate in any deals or giveaways. For a full description of StackCommerce's privacy guidelines, go here. Neowin benefits from shared revenue of each sale made through our branded deals site, and it all goes toward the running costs.
Pay What You Want for the Mighty 2021 MBA Hacker Bundle
neowin.net

 

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0.3
Halo Infinite isn't a 'make or break' title for the franchise, says Phil Spencer
(0.02/6)

Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, has expressed confidence in Halo Infinite but says it’s not a “make or break” title in terms of the future of the Xbox franchise. When asked how much is riding on Halo Infinite in terms of the future of the franchise during a recent episode of IGN’s Unlocked podcast, Spencer responded, “I don’t think about it that way. Like the future of the franchise, I think, Halo will be here ten years from now. Is Infinite the lynchpin on whether it survives that long? Absolutely not.“ “The game has such a rabid fanbase and such a history and lore that it’s just an IP that’s going to be with us. We don’t take that for granted, but I definitely believe in my core that is true.” That’s not to say that Spencer is apprehensive about Halo Infinite. In fact, he seems confident in its success and said he was happy with the reception the game’s multiplayer received during the E3 2021 showcase. He is clearly reluctant, however, to put too much pressure on the team at 343 Industries, adding, “I never want to put a team in a position where they feel, ‘hey this one’s got to land or who knows’.” “I'm not one of these dire prediction people,” Spencer continues, “I think game teams, whether it’s our teams or any team out there, they put enough pressure on themselves in delivering for customers and when you’re on a franchise that’s as big as Halo with such focus on every step and every word that’s said. I trust the team, I trust the progress they’re making, and I have confidence in Halo infinite and I think that’s all that needs to be said there. I don’t think it’s a make or break, I just don’t believe that.” Spencer, who says in the interview that he’s been testing Halo Infinite “once a month”, praised the game’s Arena experience and placed creating and perfecting “a really great Halo multiplayer experience” above things like re-imagining multiplayer or adding a battle royale mode. “If you don't get that right,” he said, “you don't get permission to do anything else.” “With a lot of the innovations and evolutions that have happened in FPS multiplayer over the years, there was something very pure about coming back to a Halo Arena experience and how clean it was and how tight the gameplay loop was... Right now on our platform there are not a lot of games that are going back to that tried and true formula and perfecting what they have, and I think that's what the goal of this team is.” Since the game’s multiplayer reveal, we’ve heard a little more about how its seasons will be structured and the team’s aim of creating a “player-first” battle pass via a Halo Waypoint blog post. In terms of modes, Spencer teased the team “is going to do more. I don’t want to say there’s one multiplayer mode” but he couldn’t be drawn on revealing any more. As far as a release date is concerned, Spencer reiterated what he said last week, confirming that the game is on track for its Holiday 2021 window but that they’re “not quite there on the exact day.” That, he said, is the “next thing” and added we’ll hear more about the exact release date in the “not too distant future”.
An Xbox Series X redesign isn’t coming out anytime soon, Microsoft confirms
techradar.com

 

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How much does a POS system cost? What you need to know about software & hardware prices
(0.02/6)

POS systems are much more than just a cash register these days. Yes, they can process customer orders, but some have evolved to the point that they’ve become multi-functional hubs for businesses across myriad types of industries. The quickly-evolving POS platforms today can offer a wide range of features and functionalities — everything from employee management and CRM to menu creation and inventory management. That’s why the POS market has exploded to the tune of reaching $15.64 billion in 2019, and it’s expected to reach $29.09 billion by 2025. Choosing the right POS system for your business is a huge decision, and one thing that factors into that decision is price. However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer as to how much you’ll pay for your POS because every business has different needs. When deciding on which system to purchase, consider making a list that divides features into categories like “essential,” “nice to have,” and “unnecessary.” To get you started, we’ll explore the types of POS systems, the factors you need to consider, and estimated costs that will help you make a more informed decision. A good place to start is by looking at the two types of POS systems, their components, and how those components can affect the price. On-premise POS As the name suggests, on-premise POS systems are a network of terminals or computers that are located and connected at your actual place of business. It operates within your company’s internal network and stores data like inventory levels and sales performance on a local database — usually your computer’s hard drive. For a visual, picture something like a desktop computer complete with monitor and keyboard, usually found on top of a cash drawer. While a great solution for retail operations, there are additional smaller pieces of hardware that are compatible and necessary to run the system that need to be purchased for each POS terminal. Because of this, it’s often more expensive to implement and can broadly run from $3,000-$50,000 annually — and you often have to rebuy the software if there’s an available update. Cloud-based POS Unlike on-premise POS systems, a cloud-based POS runs in “the cloud,” or a remote online server that only requires an internet connection. Whereas on-premise requires proprietary hardware or a desktop computer as a terminal, cloud-based POS software usually runs on a tablet, like an iPad or Android device. This allows you to be more mobile and complete transactions throughout the store. And because it requires less set-up, it often costs less to implement the hardware and software, ranging anywhere from $50 to $100 per month and a one-time set-up fee ranging from $1,000-$1,500. This is the choice of many small businesses because in addition to the lower cost, it allows you to access information from any remote location, ideal if you have multiple stores. In addition, all your data is automatically backed up online safe and secure. And unlike on-premise point of sale systems, cloud-based POS solutions are automatically updated and maintained for you. When using a cloud-based POS, there are three ways that software can be sold: A lot goes into deciding what kind of software you can afford and what you need, and the following data points should be considered: Size How many products do you sell? How large is your store? Terminals How many checkout terminals does your store need? Locations Do you run a single location or do you have multiple locations? Users Depending on your provider, you may be charged based on the number users or “seats” in your POS system. Hardware compatibility While the majority of POS software will be compatible with most point of sale hardware, there are instances when a POS vendors' software includes proprietary hardware. Customer support Some providers may charge more for “premium support”. And if you’re using on-premise systems, things like customer support have to be purchased separately and can run up to hundreds of dollars each month, depending on your package. Whether you’re using on-premise or cloud-based, you will need to buy hardware. The costs will vary greatly between the two systems. With on-premise POS systems, things add up quickly when you consider you need additional things like keyboards and monitors for each terminal. And because some hardware may be proprietary — meaning it’s licensed from the same software company — you have to buy it from them, which is more expensive and could run you between $3,000-$5,000 when you also factor in yearly maintenance fees. If you’re using a cloud-based system, it’s relatively inexpensive seeing as you’re using commodity hardware like tablets and stands that can be bought on Amazon or Best Buy for a few hundred dollars. In order to keep your business running smoothly from the cloud, there are additional items you may have to purchase along with the tablets and stands: Along with paying for the software, hardware, customer support, and the system itself, you might also be subject to set-up fees that will depend on your vendor. However, one thing you can count on is payment processing fees, which is usually a third-party service. Every time a customer uses a credit card to make a purchase, you have to pay to process the payment. This is usually a flat fee and/or percentage for every sale made, often in the ballpark of 2%-3%. As you can see, the cost of a POS system depends on a variety of factors that make it impossible to arrive at one single answer. Some businesses will pay $3,000 a year while others will have to pay more than $10,000 depending on the size of the business, the industry, revenue stream, hardware requirements, and more. However, there’s a lot of flexibility and options that make it possible to find a solution that works for you, your business, and your bottom line.
How much does a POS system cost? What you need to know about software & hardware prices
techradar.com

 

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Best blogging sites of 2021: Free and paid blog platforms
(0.02/6)

Free blogging sites have come a long way in recent years, and it’s now easier than ever to create a professional-looking blog to share a hobby with like-minded people, express your opinions, and establish an online presence. These free blogging sites are aimed at hobbyist bloggers – blogs are created and managed online, and hosted on the blogging platform’s own servers. If you want to create a self-hosted blog, the downloadable version of WordPress is an excellent option, with total flexibility, support for third-party plugins, and as much storage as your hosting plan allows. If you're interested in making a static website rather than an online journal, take a look at our guide to the best free website builders. Wix has a range of paid-for subscription plans, but also a free offering, although it’s best to note upfront that this has some caveats. With the free product, your site will have Wix branding, and you’ll be limited to 500MB of data transfer per month, so it’s not for heavily-trafficked sites. You also only get 500MB storage, too, so bear that in mind. Those limits aside, you are free to build a blog with an unlimited number of pages, and where Wix really distinguishes itself is with its powerful blog functionality. The editor may be simple, but you get access to all the stuff you need – from image galleries through to videos and music – and there are a ton of ways to customize a post. There’s also a lot of flexibility in the way you can schedule posts, and neat touches like being able to set up things so that posts are automatically pushed to Facebook when they’re published. For instance, there's a feature called Wix Bookings that allows customers to schedule appointments and classes right on your website. And what makes Wix truly compelling is that on top of this, you get the run of the rest of what this website builder offers aside from blog support. That includes using Wix’s ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) editor, which will ask for some basic info regarding the kind of site you wish to create, and features you want, and will swiftly produce something along those lines for you. That’s an impressive feature for novices, of course. There’s also commendably diverse support for various different types of media, and quality customer support to boot (yes, even on the free plan). The Wix Turbo feature is also on hand, and this increases the speed and performance of websites considerably. When you consider what you’re getting for nothing, the bandwidth and data limits don’t seem like such a heavy set of shackles. And you can always upgrade at a later date if you want to break free of them in the longer run. Try it online: Wix Powerful and highly customizable, WordPress is a brilliant platform for blogs of any size, and bloggers of all levels of experience. Creating your first blog is very straightforward, with a simple wizard that guides you through the process of choosing a name and suitable theme. You can leave it there and begin writing posts immediately, but the real fun lies in the more advanced editor, which lets you customize virtually every aspect of your blog’s appearance. Unlike some blogging sites, WordPress isn’t a drag-and-drop affair, and you’ll have to familiarize yourself with its system of menus. Doing so is well worth the effort, though, and enables you to create something truly personal. The editor also allows you to create static pages – like a writer’s biography, for example. The post-writing interface is much like an ordinary desktop word processor (though some options are presented in a toolbar at the top, while others are in a menu at the side, which can be a little confusing at first). Again, time spent getting to know the interface is rewarded with advanced features like customizable social media sharing buttons, geotagging, and the ability to pick a custom style for individual posts. Sometimes you might want to create a photo gallery, for example, and other times a more text-focused style would be more appropriate. You can also view and edit the HTML source. As your blog grows, WordPress lets you track its stats, including page views, visitors, likes and comments over time. You can also see how readers reach your site, which content they viewed, and where they are in the world, all of which is very useful in terms of being able to tailor your content accordingly. Your site is hosted on WordPress servers, with an address in the format yoursite.wordpress.com. Users of the free service don’t get email or live chat support, but the WordPress community forums are very active and questions are usually answered within a few minutes. Additionally, privacy protection for domains that are registered at WordPress.com is free. WordPress displays ads on free blogs, but provided you can live with that, it’s a top-notch solution for a free blogging site. Try it online: WordPress Blogger is another superb blogging platform. It’s not quite as powerful as WordPress, but on the other hand, it is more accessible for new users, which comes as no surprise when you learn that it’s owned by Google. Blogger offers an excellent selection of templates, all of which include mobile versions optimized for smaller screens – a very sensible addition with so many people accessing online content through smartphones these days. Blogger is also web responsive. Blogger’s post-editing tool is much like WordPress, but offers fewer options. As a result, its toolbars are less confusing – a trade-off between power and usability. One of Blogger’s best features is its integration with other Google apps and services. For example, it uses your Google Drive account to store images and other files for your blog. Google Drive gives you 15GB of space free, so Blogger is a good choice if you’re planning to share a lot of high-res photos. Spam comments are a big problem on blogs, so Blogger’s automatic spam filter can help save your sanity. You can monitor comments via Blogger’s dashboard, which also lets you see visitor stats. There are some handy visualizations here, including a world map to show the global distribution of your readers. Your blog will have an address in the format yoursite.blogger.com, and, like all Google services, will include ads. Support is available through the Blogger user forum, which is very active but has a strange layout that can be a little off-putting. In all other respects, Blogger is brilliant – in short, it is one of the best free blogging sites if you prioritize ease of use over flexibility, particularly if you are a fan of the Google ecosystem too. Try it online: Blogger Weebly takes a modular approach to blog building, with a drag-and-drop editor that lets you choose which elements to add to your site, and where. Pick a basic template, then plonk various types of content onto the page, including social media links, text, images, maps, and sections of code. It’s a refreshingly simple way to build a blog that feels unique to you, but doesn’t require any messing about with menus. It’s worth noting, however, that certain content blocks can only be positioned in certain areas; it isn’t a total free-for-all. This makes sense – forcing you to stick within the confines of your chosen template stops the page looking messy – but you might find it limiting. Blog posts are made in the same way: drag text boxes, picture frames, buttons and page breaks into position, then click to edit them. One particularly nice feature is the ‘secret draft link’, which lets you preview your unpublished post, and even share it with others via email before releasing it into the wild. Weebly has some other interesting tricks up its sleeve, including an area for pasting in Google Analytics tracking code (though it doesn’t offer analytics itself). You’re only given 500MB for uploaded content, so photographers might want to look elsewhere. Weebly puts an ad in your site’s footer, but it doesn’t obscure any of your content. Try it online: Weebly Whereas the other free blogging sites we've looked at here are designed to get as many eyeballs on your posts as possible, Penzu takes the opposite philosophy, and is the equivalent of a locked diary stashed in a safe. Penzu is a journal platform that makes your posts private by default and locks them down with at least one password (even after you’re logged in, you need a second one to read or edit your posts). That’s because it’s designed for private thoughts and personal reflection. There are free apps for iOS and Android that enable you to update your Penzu diary anywhere, but the contents are for your eyes only. Penzu isn’t a tool for self-promotion, so although it’s far from ugly, it understandably focuses on function rather than looks. Custom colors and backgrounds come at a price – currently $20 per year. It’s a shame that 128-bit AES encryption is also limited to the paid-for version, and there’s a fair amount of pressure to upgrade applied by Penzu. Extra options are often dangled under your nose then yanked away, but the core offering is a good one, and if you simply want a place to record your thoughts and practice writing, Penzu could be just the ticket. Try it online: Penzu
Best email services of 2021: paid, free and business providers
techradar.com

 

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0.9
Best cloud storage services of 2021
(0.02/6)

Looking for the best cloud storage provider around right now? Well, we've got you covered with the most extensive, thoroughly-researched and complete buyers guide with as little jargon as possible. Most importantly, nobody has tested and reviewed more of the best cloud storage services online than us in 2021. We have researched nearly 50 services, from personal cloud storage to enterprise grade secure cloud storage, that store files in the cloud - and so much more - in a bid to provide you with our curated list, ranking on aspects such as capacity, price, file size, security and ease of use. Our experts have worked on a list that represents our top picks for the best secure cloud storage: most offer a free tier allowing you to see if they're right for you before handing over any hard-earned cash. Just make sure you read the terms and conditions. Whether you need to store a couple of files, an operating system, or entire collections of pictures, images or videos, we have something for everyone. And if you can't find what you're after, check out some of our other guides, including the best free cloud storage, best photo storage and best business cloud storage roundups. IDrive offers continuous syncing of your files, even those on network drives. The web interface supports sharing files by email, Facebook and Twitter. Cautious or click-happy users will be pleased to hear that files deleted from your computer are not automatically deleted from the server, so there's less danger of removing something important by accident. Up to 30 previous versions of all files backed to your account are retained. Another thing to note is that IT admins have access to the IDrive Thin Client application, which allows them to backup/restore, manage settings, and more for all their connected computers via a centralized dashboard. For photos, you have a neat facial recognition feature that helps you to automatically organize them, as well as syncing them across all your linked devices. IDrive also offers IDrive Express which sends you a physical hard disk drive if you lose all your data, allowing for the swift restoration of all your backed up files. An enhanced version - aptly named IDrive Business - exists and offers priority support, single sign-on, as well as unlimited users and server backup. While IDrive Personal offers 5TB or 10TB per user, the professional counterparts get between 250GB and 12.5TB of online storage. Backblaze is a cloud storage giant, an industry veteran that caters for personal and large-scale business backup needs. The key word is ‘backup’ here, because there are no file syncing or fancy collaboration features here – as the name suggests, Backblaze backs things up, and that’s it. It is the only one in this list that offers true unlimited cloud storage, no strings attached. The subscription price for personal backups – which can be paid monthly, yearly, or on a 2-year deal – is good value ($60 for a year), particularly considering that you’re getting unrestricted storage. But that gets only better still when you know that you can currently get Backblaze completely free for a year when you sign up to award-winning VPN provider ExpressVPN. Not only is Express our #1 favorite service out there for protecting your privacy online, reinforcing your anonymity and letting you geo-spoof your location, you also get 15 months for the price of 12 - and now that free year of Backblaze, too! But if all you need is a backup system, then Backblaze is a seriously tempting proposition on a number of fronts. For starters, Backblaze makes the whole process of keeping your files backed up and safe extremely easy; trivial, even. Simply install the app, and it continuously backs up all important data (basically grabbing everything that isn’t a system file or similar), with no need for any intervention from the user. You can forget it’s installed and simply not worry about your files. The caveat is that one account only covers one computer, so while there are no data allowance worries, you’ll have to pay for a fresh account for each PC you want backing up. Backup speeds are fast, your data is encrypted for security, and you have the option – for a fee – of having a physical hard drive or flash drive sent over in the event that a restoration process is required. Whether or not you go for Backblaze will depend on your exact needs when it comes to secure cloud storage, but those who just need a pure backup system, with no extra features or trimmings, will find it a great service for sure – and an impressive value proposition given the unlimited data support. Also of note is a 15-day free trial (no credit card details required) to try before you buy. pCloud is one of the very few cloud services that offer lifetime subscriptions; you essentially get a virtual, permanent cloud drive. It describes itself as a "personal cloud space where you can store all your files and folders [with] a user-friendly interface that clearly shows where everything is located and what it does." pCloud comes with a 30-day trash history and unlimited remote upload traffic (you only need the URL of the file); you are - as expected - limited on the download link traffic: 500GB for the Premium package and 2TB for the Premium Plus package every month. While some bandwidth limits apply, there seems to be no limit to the size of files you can upload, so feel free to sync large media files. The service is available for all desktop and mobile platforms – users can also log in via the website. Note that as of August 2020, pCloud now allows its users to choose where they want their data to be stored, either in the EU or US. The company itself is registered in Switzerland which has strong privacy laws, and you can also pay a premium of $4.99 a month for pCloud Crypto to lock (and unlock) individual files with passwords. There's also a family option that allows you to share your space with up to four other family members and a superior option - pCloud Business - that offers 1TB per user with pCloud Crypto included. IceDrive may only have been in the cloud storage business for a couple of years, but the firm offers a compelling solution, and one that’s rather different to the traditional cloud locker. The key difference is that IceDrive’s online storage can be presented as a standard drive on your (Windows) system, just like your hard drive, with the idea being that it makes this storage easier and more intuitive to use. It’s just the same as accessing a local drive, and you can use functions like opening or editing files with close to the same speed you’d get with a local operation – as we observed in our review, there’s almost no slowdown evident. That’s a Windows-only feature, although there is a nifty app for other platforms – Windows, Mac or Linux, and a web app for that matter – with a streamlined and well thought out interface. Security is also a strong suit here, with IceDrive employing super-safe twofish encryption on its servers, with the data leaving your machine encrypted client-side as well, to keep things even safer. The major weak point with IceDrive is the lack of any of the collaboration features and tricks you can pull off with the likes of OneDrive, for example. IceDrive subscription plans are nicely priced, and you can get the Lite tier which offers 150GB of storage for as little as $20 for a year ($1.67 per month). A Pro+ plan with 5TB capacity comes out at $15 per month, and lifetime plan options could work out as superb value, running from $59 to $499. NordLocker might sound familiar, mainly because it’s from the makers of NordVPN, one of our best VPN services. It’s a relatively simple but effective service which gives you a cloud storage locker, or alternatively can be used to create a local file vault on your device for secure storage, protecting your data with encryption in both cases. To use on your own machine locally, NordLocker is free, and with that free version you also get a small amount of online storage – 3GB to be precise. If you want a workable amount of secure cloud storage, however, you’ll need to pay for a subscription, with one available plan that provides 500GB of space. That comes at a reasonable $3.99 per month on the annual subscription, or $7.99 if you want to pay month-by-month. NordLocker allows you to sync all those files in the cloud between all your devices, and using the app is an absolute breeze – just drag-and-drop your files in, and they’re automatically encrypted and uploaded. File sharing with others can be achieved, but they must also have signed up for a NordLocker account and be using the app. As you might expect, security is super-tight, with NordLocker using Argon2, AES256, and ECC encryption protocols, with a ‘zero knowledge’ policy in place, meaning that your files can only be decrypted by yourself (and not the company, even if it wanted to). NordLocker may not deliver enough in the way of features for experts or more demanding users, but it’s a solid basic service, highly user-friendly, and if that’s what you need, it’s a robust value proposition. Like Google Drive's appeal to Google users, OneDrive will be a good fit for anyone who is committed to using Microsoft's services, offering neat integration with Outlook.com, the company's popular email platform, for instance. OneDrive also ties in nicely with Windows 10 and there is a selection of reasonable mobile apps to facilitate access on the move. It's also integrated with non-Microsoft services like design behemoth AutoCAD. It's possible to share files with other people even if they aren't OneDrive users (complete with customizable permissions), and the ability to edit files online without downloading them is a welcome touch. Coming from Microsoft – a company with plenty of money to throw at the cloud – it's a little disappointing to find that OneDrive doesn’t include more space free of charge. Free users get a mere 5GB of storage, although it's relatively inexpensive to increase this to 100GB. If you have Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) either through your work, educational institution or private purchase, you'll automatically get 1TB of space per user for free with an option to boost it up. Just bear in mind that this is secure cloud storage at it simplest with barely any advanced features here. The Pro version has a dark mode and tighter integration with Microsoft Teams. Note that Microsoft upped the upload file size limit on OneDrive from 100GB to 250GB. Google Drive is a natural choice for owners of Android devices as it's already integrated, but users of other platforms may appreciate the generous free storage too. You can also store unlimited high definition photos on your mobile phone with companion app Google Photos, and make use of Google's own office suite (now known as G Workspace). Also, individuals upgrading to paid Google Drive plans will join Google One. The array of features delivered by Google Drive via One - which ties into Google's Cloud platform - is bewildering and evolves continuously. At the time of writing, Google engineers were rolling out the ability to request approvals for Drive items and lock approved versions. The 2TB tier - which offers 10% back in Google Store credits - allows the main account holder to invite up to five other additional members and costs $99.99 per year. Downsides include the fact that the web interface isn't very easy-to-use, although Windows and Mac users can download a desktop app to drag-and-drop files easily. Drive also integrates Google's powerful AI and search technology, probably one of the best in the world.
Best VoIP services of 2021
techradar.com

 

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0.4
Game writer Sam Maggs is your host for the 2021 Game Developers Choice Awards
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We’re just a couple of weeks away from the 2021 Game Developers Choice Awards—and it’s now time to announce our host for this year’s event! We’re pleased to introduce author and games writer Sam Maggs as our host for this year’s show. Maggs is a bestselling author of books, comics, and video games, with credits on Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart, Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and more. She’s also written YA and middle-grade books like The Unstoppable Wasp, Con Quest!, Tell No Tales, and The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, and has written for comics such as Marvel Action: Captain Marvel, My Little Pony, and Transformers. This year’s awards will take place during the all-digital Game Developers Conference, and will broadcast on Wednesday July 21st starting at 4:30PM PST. The ceremony will be available to all GDC passholders on Swapcard, the official platform of GDC 2021, and will also be broadcast on the GDC Twitch channel. For more information on the 2021 Game Developers Choice Awards, be sure to watch the trailer for this year’s show, featuring Maggs and several 2021 nominees. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to register for GDC 2021 to watch with your fellow attendees! For more details on GDC 2021 visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS. Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under Informa Tech
Game writer Sam Maggs is your host for the 2021 Game Developers Choice Awards
gamasutra.com

 

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0.7
Room 8 Group opens Montreal studio to offer external support to more developers
(0.02/6)

Room 8 Group has opened a new studio in Canada to provide creative, development, and management services to development partners working on free-to-play mobile titles and console games. The video game holding company provides external development support to studios worldwide, and has worked on notable projects including Control, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and World of Tanks. Room 8 Studio Canada will be based in Montreal and serve as an "additional contact centre for North America," providing the company with another base of operations in the region alongside its Los Angeles office. The new opening will be led by general manager and executive producer Matthew Zoern, who's previously worked at companies including EA and Funcom Games. Room 8 Group chairman Sviatoslav Pohrebnoi explained the Montreal office is only the first stage of a two year expansion plan. "As we continue our exponential growth, we are opening up new offices in gaming hubs all over the world to provide our partners with more regionally based best-in-class development and management services," said Pohrebnoi. "Montreal is the first in a series of new studios we will be opening over the next two years. Collectively we focus on developing PC, console, mobile games, and entertainment art production."
Room 8 Group opens Montreal studio to offer external support to more developers
gamasutra.com

 

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0.0
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield on the future of remote work
(0.02/6)

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield responds to Apple's hybrid work model and what the future of remote work will look like.
Nobody would choose the office over software, says Slack CEO
cnbc.com

 

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0.7
Google is creating new synergies between Workspace apps
(0.02/6)

Google has lifted the lid on an upgrade for instant messaging service Chat, which will now work more closely with other Google Workspace applications. In a blog post, the company announced that Chat will now make intelligent suggestions based on data drawn down from Google Calendar. For example, if someone has a meeting coming up, Chat will create a temporary messaging channel that can be used to notify co-workers of any delays or share resources ahead of the session. This channel will become available ten minutes before the meeting and remain live for ten minutes after. The new functionality builds upon an almost identical feature that applies to one-on-one meetings marked in Google Calendar, introduced back in March. The change will begin to go live for all users over the next two weeks and will be available via the Google Chat web app and Gmail widget. Since the launch of G Suite in 2006, Google has competed directly with Microsoft in the office software space, going up against the famous Microsoft 365 suite, which includes the likes of Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc. In recent years, one of the defining features of Microsoft’s offering has been tight integration between apps and services, extending all the way out to the Windows operating system on which most business devices run. Google gave itself a fresh start last year, rebranding G Suite to Workspace, which also involved an overhaul of the logo and other iconography. The impetus behind the decision was to create a more “deeply integrated user experience”, by improving the interoperability of its various productivity software for a more fluid feel. At the time, for example, Google unveiled a picture-in-picture mode for Docs and Slides that allowed workers to both see and hear their colleagues while collaborating on a document on presentation. “Ten years ago, when many of our products were first developed, they were created as individual apps that solved distinct challenges,” wrote Javier Soltero, VP and GM, Google Workspace. “Over time, our products have become more integrated, so much so that the lines between our apps have started to disappear. Our new Google Workspace brand reflects this more connected, helpful and flexible experience, and our icons will reflect the same.” The latest Google Chat announcement can be considered an extension of efforts to create a more closely integrated suite of productivity and collaboration tools, and thereby mount a genuine challenge to Microsoft 365.
Google is creating new synergies between Workspace apps
techradar.com

 

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Mars First Logistics looks like the game Death Stranding wishes it was

Mars First Logistics, the latest game from Melbourne-based Ian McClarty, is a game about making deliveries in a harsh environment. Published on By Mars First Logistics, the latest game from Melbourne-based Ian McClarty, is a game about making deliveries in a harsh environment. From the Steam store page for the newly-announced Mars First Logistics, two of its features are listed as: Does that sound like another game that released in the past couple of years? Yep, that’s right – we’re thinking about Death Stranding. But Hideo Kojima’s “strand game” buries its pure hiking and hauling brilliance beneath an impenetrably stupid story, death-by-cutscene, terrible combat, and bizarre product placement/advertising. Mars First Logistics, on the other hand, focuses on the deliveries, with the player creating and customising robotic couriers specifically designed for each awkward, obtuse task. It also really nails the isolation by getting its ass to Mars. (And, in sensibly casting robots as its heroes, not a bunch of Hollywood folk Kojima wants to be friends with, I’d wager there is almost no extraneous exposition.) Visually, Mars First Logistics brings to mind the edge-detection and flat shading of Sable, smashed together with robot-building UI that’s straight out of a Lego Technic manual. It’s gorgeous in an understated way, and whip-smart. Gameplay-wise? Well, that looks like Lego Technic, too, on the construction side, with a hint of Kerbal Space Program – and, yes, Death Stranding – on the planet traversal to make those deliveries. Earn credits, upgrade your bots, make more deliveries. It’s a pleasing little loop, straight out of the Elite handbook. Mars First Logistics has a planned release date of 2022. One to watch, we think. Follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for more indie game discovery. Thumbsticks has a couple of goals. We want to write interesting articles and cover games that most outlets won't, and we want to give opportunities to new writers and new voices. And right now, with the current state of online publishing? It's tough to meet those goals! We hate to ask, but if you want us to continue writing what others won't, or to keep covering weird indie games, or to be able to give opportunities to new writers – and only if you can afford it – then please consider supporting us on Patreon. Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op. Play 40 demos of unreleased games free on Xbox this week Playdate update: Everything announced for Panic’s crank-powered handheld In 2021, this silly game about shaking hands is weirdly comforting Loop Hero is unlike any roguelike you’ve played before Sunlight is a short narrative adventure set in a stunning forest The 21 most anticipated video game releases of 2021 Mars First Logistics, the latest game from Melbourne-based Ian McClarty, is a game about making deliveries in a harsh environment. Megapenguin is back in Dreams, and this time he's... more buff than ever? Remedy signs co-publishing agreement with 505 Games to bring new games to the Control universe. (And no, we're not talking... The Xbox Games with Gold lineup for July 2021 includes a sci-fi puzzle adventure and a host of classics from... Google has confirmed the four video games that will be free to Stadia Pro subscribers in July 2021. Following the announcement of Forza Horizon 5, it seemed inevitable that the sun would set on Forza Horizon 4. Vampyr. This week's Xbox Deals with Gold discounts include Hood: Outlaws & Legends and Mafia III: Definitive Edition. Tekken’s Kazuya joins Nintendo Switch fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate today.

 

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LG prices its QNED mini-LED TVs starting at $2,000

At CES 2021, we learned that LG planned to upgrade its LCD TV lineup with mini-LED backlight technology under the label “ QNED TV,” but now we finally have more details, including pricing and availability. LG’s first QNED TVs will hit retail outlets in July, with an entry price of $2,000 for a 4K 65-inch model. There will also be 8K models available. LG has always touted the picture quality benefits of its OLED TVs, and for good reason. On an OLED TV, each pixel generates its own brightness, resulting in the best black levels and contrast you can get in a TV. But with the advent of mini-LED backlighting, it’s possible for LED and QLED TVs to get much closer to OLED’s advantages in this area because they allow for much finer-grained control over brightness than regular LED backlights. Mini-LEDs are so small, manufacturers can fit thousands of them into a space that once held hundreds of LEDs or even fewer. LG’s 86-inch 8K QNED99, for instance, has about 30,000 mini-LEDs, which are then divided into 2,500 local dimming zones. LG says this lets the QNED99 deliver a 10x better contrast ratio than the company’s non-QNED models. In addition to using thousands of mini-LEDs for better brightness and contrast, LG’s QNED TVs also use the company’s quantum dot nanocell technology. These tiny particles help to improve the TV’s color accuracy without diminishing overall brightness. LG claims that its QNED TVs achieve 100% of the Digital Cinema Initiatives’ P3 color space (DCI-P3) — an important capability if you want to see movies in their full glory. Beyond the new picture performance enabled by mini-LED backlights, these QNED models boast most of the features we’ve come to expect from LG’s OLED TVs, like Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos, hands-free voice control, Google Assistant and Alexa Built-in, and Apple Airplay 2. They also sport excellent support for HDMI 2.1 features, like HDMI eARC, variable refresh rate (VRR), auto low-latency mode (ALLM), and 4K resolution at 120Hz — all of which will make gamers very happy indeed. Here’s the full 2021 QNED TV lineup:

 

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0.1
Amazon Releases Cowardly Statement, Is Clearly Afraid of FTC Chair

Amazon has asked the Federal Trade Commission to recuse its new Chair, Lina Khan, from any upcoming anti trust investigations concerning the company, essentially arguing that she’s too qualified for the job. Khan, who was recently named chairwoman of the federal agency by President Joe Biden, has been very vocal about her views on Amazon in the past, penning extensive legal scholarship and myriad op-eds criticizing its monopolistic practices. In a well-known paper, she argued that the current anti trust policy should be broadened to better tackle the unique challenges posed by the tech giant. Her writing, much of which has made arguments along similar lines, has also appeared in the likes of CNN, Quartz, Salon, and others. As FTC chairwoman, Khan would be in charge of overseeing and leading any upcoming actions taken against the web platform, and, to Amazon, this is clearly a matter of grave concern. The tech giant filed a 25-page motion with the FTC on Wednesday, arguing that Khan’s vocal criticism of them is a conflict of interest. “She has on numerous occasions argued that Amazon is guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up,” the company worries, in the document. “These statements convey to any reasonable observer the clear impression that she has already made up her mind about many material facts relevant to Amazon’s antitrust culpability as well as about the ultimate issue of culpability itself.” Amazon similarly complained that Khan “has built her academic and professional career in large measure by pronouncing Amazon liable for violating the antitrust laws.” “In the absence of recusal, she will be directly involved in, and will exercise direct supervisory authority over, virtually all aspects of any investigation of Amazon as well as any prosecutorial or adjudicatory decisions relating to the company,” the motion reads. It makes sense that Amazon would be so concerned about this, given the growing political interest in breaking up America’s largest companies. On both sides of the political aisle, Congress has recently introduced legislation targeted at curbing tech companies’ most egregious excesses. Meanwhile, the Biden White House has expressed interest in advancing a much more aggressive antitrust agenda during the president’s tenure. The administration is apparently in the process of drafting an executive order that is targeted not just at Big Tech, but at corporate giants more generally. With the endless revolving door politics between lobbying firms and agency heads, i t’s an incredible moment to see a company complain that the person in charge of being critical of corporations’ practices is in fact critical of corporations’ practices.

 

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0.3
CDC Stands by Masking Guidelines, Says Vaccinated Americans Are Safe From Delta Variant

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, is trying to assuage vaccinated people’s fears about the Delta variant of the coronavirus. T his morning, Walensky said that vaccinated people should remain protected from Delta and that they still didn’t need to wear masks in most situations. Notably, the World Health Organization has recently reiterated its own position that vaccinated people should continue to wear masks indoors. Walensky’s comments were made during an interview this morning on NBC’s Today. She was asked about the recent reversal of mask guidelines in cities like Los Angeles, which recommend that even vaccinated individuals should be wearing masks when inside public spaces, as well as about the WHO’s similar position on mask-wearing. The WHO’s stance hasn’t changed since the start of widespread vaccination last winter but has gotten renewed attention in the wake of Delta’s spread throughout the world. Walensky first addressed the differences between the WHO’s recommendations and those of the CDC, which say mask-wearing isn’t needed for vaccinated people outdoors or indoors, except in certain higher-risk scenarios, like being on public transit or in medical facilities. Because so little of the world’s population is vaccinated, she argued, the WHO’s more cautious guidelines make sense globally, if not necessarily for the U. S. So far, around 23% of the world is partially vaccinated, while only 10% is fully vaccinated; the U. S., by comparison, has about 46% of its entire population fully vaccinated. She then noted that the federal government has always allowed states and localities to set their own policies on covid-19 -related restrictions and that more aggressive measures might need to be taken in places with low vaccination rates that remain at higher risk of new outbreaks. But she also emphasized the evidence showing that vaccines continue to provide protection against covid-19.“Those masking policies are not to protect the vaccinated, they’re to protect the unvaccinated,” Walensky said. She then made it clear that the CDC would not be changing its guidelines anytime soon, even with Delta on the rise. “If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States,” she said, adding that everyone should feel free to make their own judgements about mask-wearing, particularly for certain vulnerable groups such as the immunocompromised. As discussed by Gizmodo before, there is plenty of evidence suggesting that people fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines continue to be highly protected from illness, especially serious illness, that could be caused by Delta. It’s less certain whether the same is true for the 12 million Americ ans who have gotten the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine, which has prompted some experts and doctors to recommend an mRNA booster. J&J has said that it will have data on whether effectiveness is lowered from Delta soon. But other evidence, including from AstraZeneca’s similar adenovirus-based vaccine, suggests that protection against illness will likely only be reduced by a few percentage points at most, while effectiveness against serious illness and death should remain high—points that Walensky reiterated herself. “Right now, we have no information to suggest that you need a second shot after J&J, even with the Delta variant,” she said. “Generally people are agreeing that they anticipate that J&J will perform well against the Delta variant, as it has so far against other variants circulating in the United States.” The CDC’s confidence is certainly going to be put to the test, with Delta likely to become the dominant strain of the virus in the U. S. in a matter of weeks. On Tuesday, the CDC announced that about a quarter of new cases are now estimated to be caused by the variant. And while cases, hospitalizations, and deaths do remain near record lows, there are signs of regional outbreaks fueled by Delta starting to emerge.

 

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0.2
Apricorn launches largest ever external SSD - and it's an absolute whopper

Secure storage device vendor Apricorn has unleashed a mammoth 20 TB Solid State Drive ( SSD), which it bills as the industry’s largest portable drive. Like all Apricorn products, the Fortress L3 SSD series of drives feature hardware-based 256-Bit AES XTS encryption and ship in rugged enclosures. The new 20 TB standard-compliant drive is designed to help businesses ferry large amounts of sensitive data securely. “The 20TB Aegis Fortress L3’s mass storage capabilities enable fast response, restoration, and recovery in the event of a disaster, reducing downtime and minimizing financial and reputational damage," said Jon Fielding, Managing Director EMEA at Apricorn. "This is critical for businesses looking to build resilience at a time when ransomware attacks, in particular, are becoming an almost daily occurrence." Apricorn argues that the drive makes more sense in the current climate, which has necessitated the need for encrypted offline backups for public and private enterprises across all sectors. The new 20 TB variant conforms to the FIPS 140-2 level 3 parameters, which it claims is the highest level of FIPS validation attainable for portable devices. Furthermore, thanks to a new, ultra-fast encryption chipset, the L3 range boasts the fastest, most robust, highest capacity drives in Apricorn’s portfolio. The drives are enclosed in a tamper resistant enclosure made with 6061 aircraft-grade aluminium alloy and ship with interchangeable type-A and type-C connector cables. The drives are available in different capacities, from 500GB to the newly launched 20 TB variant. Apricorn told TechRadar Pro the 20 TB variant features 9.5mm Novachips NS379C20T0VC0-U0.

 

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0.6
Games with Gold: Conker: Live and Reloaded and Planet Alpha are now free

The first bonus games of July from Microsoft's Games with Gold program have already landed, coming only a short while after the announcement went out earlier this week. Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership holders can now add two more games to their libraries, them being Planet Alpha and Conker: Live & Reloaded. Although coming from different generations, both titles have backward compatibility support for newer consoles. Planet Alpha can be played on Xbox One and Xbox Series X| S systems, while Conker: Live & Reloaded is available across the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X| S generations. The Microsoft Store links listed below can be used to directly add the games to a Gold activated account: Planet Alpha (Xbox One) Conker: Live & Reloaded (Xbox 360) For those who missed it, Shadows: Awakening from the last Games with Gold lineup still has two weeks left on its counter before it stops being part of the program. It will be replaced by Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break on July 16. Games claimed through a Games with Gold promotion are attached to accounts in different ways depending on their launch platforms. Xbox 360 titles will continue being playable even after the Gold subscription is discontinued, but Xbox One games are only playable while the account has an active subscription.

 

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0.5
Play Game Boy cartridges on your computer with this $50 accessory

In brief: Devices like the Analogue Nt and the Duo have led to a recent resurgence in retro gaming, a trend we’re seeing trickle down to smaller manufacturers. One such example is Epilogue, who recently started accepting pre-orders for its GB Operator. Epilogue likens the GB Operator to a cartridge slot for your computer. With it, users can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance cartridges on their computer just as they would on original hardware. It’s even compatible with the Game Boy Camera accessory, should you still happen to have one of those lying around. The device’s creator says its cross-platform desktop application (Windows, Mac and Linux) is based on mGBA, an open-source Game Boy Advance emulator that’s been around for years, but adds that users are free to utilize their favorite emulator as well. GB Operator is even reportedly able to detect counterfeit cartridges, an added perk for those looking to amass a collection of original carts. Non-Nintendo hardware used to play Game Boy carts isn’t new, mind you, but they’re also somewhat hard to come by. Analogue announced its Pocket handheld in 2019 but we’re still waiting for it to hit the market. Hyperkin was also working on a Game Boy remake years ago, but I’m not certain if it ever launched. The GB Operator is available to pre-order now priced at $49.99 plus shipping, and is expected to go out sometime in August.

 

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Hayao Miyazaki's Glorious Lupin III Movie Is Coming to Theaters in 4K

Hayao Miyazaki might be better known for the incredible body of work he developed over his entire career at Studio Ghibli, but the animator’s theatrical debut didn’t just form a foundational base for that career, it gave one of Japan’s most beloved gentlemen thieves his all-time greatest caper: Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. And now, it’s coming to U. S. theaters for a limited run. Announced by GKids today, the new 4K restoration of the fantastical 1979 caper will return to steadily reopening U. S. theaters in a limited capacity next month, giving audiences a chance to see a formative moment in the beloved anime director’s career in its best possible light. Cagliostro, penned by Miyazaki alongside Haruya Yamazaki, follows Monkey Punch’s heroic thief Lupin and his retinue of mercenary thieves—legendary swordsman Goemon Ishikawa, master sharpshooter Daisuke Jigen, and occasional frenemy ( and legendary thief in her own right) Fujiko Mine—as they find themselves in the titular duchy of Cagliostro, when a trail of infamous forged bank notes leads Lupin into the path of the sinister Count, and to the Count’s trapped would-be bride, Clarisse. It’s an absolute gem of a movie, sumptuously animated, and contains what remains one of the greatest car chases in animation history. Check out a brief glimpse of said car chase below in the trailer for the new theatrical run: The film will be available in both Japanese with subtitles and with an English dub, and is currently only set for three locations—on July 16 at the IFC Center, New York, and July 30 at both the Landmark Westwood in Los Angeles and t he Roxie in San Francisco. More dates and locations for Cagliostro ’s 4K run will be announced in the coming weeks, which is good, because as many people need to go witness its enduring charms on the big screen as possible, frankly. Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

 

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0.3
Every true wireless earbud feature explained

Are you interested in buying a set of true wireless earbuds, but you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of brands, models, features, and prices on Amazon? You’re not alone. Ever since Apple launched the AirPods in 2016, the true wireless earbuds space has exploded. More choice is always a good thing for buyers, but it also means you need to do a little more research before you make your decision. We can help. We’ll explain every single feature and buzzword that you might run into and what to look out for when those buzzwords sound too good to be true. We’ll also update this article regularly because even a few months can make a big difference in terms of what you can expect to get for your money. It’s not a very common feature, but some charging cases have extra-large batteries and a built-in USB-A charging port that lets you recharge a phone or almost any other device. Whether it’s worth carrying the extra bulk in order to have this option is going to be a personal decision, but it doesn’t add much cost to the earbuds, so price likely won’t be a factor. Active noise cancellation (ANC) uses the earbuds’ onboard microphones to detect external sounds and attempts to cancel them out by producing sounds with an inverse phase. There can be a big difference in ANC effectiveness from one model to another, with more expensive earbuds usually doing a better job than lower-priced models. Beware of claims like the number of decibels (dB) canceled by ANC, as this can be misleading. Check trusted review sites for evaluations of how well a specific earbud’s ANC works. Pay specific attention to reviewers’ observations around the kind of sounds the ANC cancels best — some ANC is better at dealing with consistent noise like an airplane’s engines, while others do better with dynamic noises like traffic or conversations. This is easily the most variable feature from one model of true wireless earbuds to another. We’ve seen some that last as little as three hours per charge and only 12 hours with the charging case, while others can last as long as 13 hours per charge and up to 48 hours when you include the charging case. More expensive earbuds often last longer, but there are exceptions to this. Apple’s $249 AirPods Pro only get 4.5 hours with ANC turned on, while the $50 Earfun Air get seven hours per charge and 35 hours total with their charging case. As a wireless technology, Bluetooth always compresses digital music in order to transmit it to your earbuds. Very high-quality earbuds compensate for this with top-notch signal processing, audio drivers, and amplifiers. But it’s also possible to moderately increase the sound quality through the use of Bluetooth codecs like aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC. These codecs preserve more of the original source, but the caveat is that both the earbuds and the smartphone (or tablet, etc.) need to be compatible. A set of earbuds that support LDAC, for instance, won’t sound any better if used with an Apple iPhone as iPhones don’t work with LDAC. Though it’s a rarity on true wireless earbuds, some models use Bluetooth Multipoint, which lets them connect to two Bluetooth source devices simultaneously, like a phone and a laptop. This makes switching between these two devices very fast and easy, with no need to pair them again every time you want to swap. At the moment, only Jabra offers this feature for all kinds of Bluetooth devices, but Apple’s AirPods line of earbuds and headphones can do it, too — as long as you’re signed in to iCloud on all of your Apple devices. Bluetooth wireless range is another highly variable feature. Some models lose their connection after about 10 feet while others can go much farther. For the best possible wireless range, look for earbuds that are considered class 1 Bluetooth devices — these have the longest range you can get. Though exceptions do exist, like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, true wireless earbuds are usually only so-so for call quality. Look for trustworthy reviews that discuss an earbud’s call quality, as it can vary from totally unusable to very good — and there’s no way to tell by looking at a product’s specifications or price. This is your earbuds’ home when they’re not in your ears, and there are a lot of features to consider. How many extra charges does the battery hold? How small/pocketable is it? Does it have wireless charging? Does it use USB-C or MicroUSB for cable charging? Is it easy to remove and replace the earbuds? Does the hinge mechanism seem flimsy? Would it survive a fall onto a hard surface? What about water resistance? Bored of basic black? Look for earbuds that come in a range of color options, though be warned: Many models that offer this variety are on the low end in terms of features and sound quality, so definitely do your homework. Being able to choose which combination of taps or clicks are used for different functions is a nice option, but support for this can vary highly between models. Some let you customize every gesture on each earbud, while others only let you modify one or two. Some don’t let you make any changes at all. Price isn’t a reliable indicator: Some high-end buds have no customization of any kind, while some sub-$50 models have lots. When it comes to earbuds, the two main technologies for producing the sound you hear are dynamic drivers (which look like teeny-tiny speakers) and balanced armature drivers (which look like rectangular boxes with a hole at one end). Balanced armatures are usually tuned to specific frequencies, which means you’ll often get two or three in a single earbud. This arrangement tends to produce the most accurate sound, which is why balanced armatures are favored for professional in-ear monitors. But balanced armatures take up more room, making it hard to use them in wireless earbuds, which need space for batteries, microphones, and lots of circuitry. So dynamic drivers are the go-to tech for most true wireless earbuds. But there’s no need to get fixated on the kind of drivers used when buying earbuds. As with so many things, you can have awesome dynamic drivers and terrible balanced armatures — it’s more important to read reviews about how these drivers succeed (or don’t) at creating great sound. Some earbuds — especially those aimed at athletes — include earfins or earwings in addition to various sizes of eartips. These create an even more secure fit than the eartips alone. Some models treat the earfins as optional, like Amazon Echo Buds, while others make them a requirement, like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. Some folks find earwings uncomfortable, so if you don’t need the extra stability they offer, you may want to consider earbuds that don’t have them or that give you the option of not using them. You may see this feature advertised as noise-canceling, which might lead you to think that’s it’s active noise cancellation — but it’s not the same. Environmental noise cancellation (ENC) or Clear Voice Calling (CvC) are technologies that prevent external sounds from interfering with your voice during calls — they do not cancel those noises when listening to music. All earbuds come from the factory tuned for a specific sound signature. That signature may emphasize low-end bass or ultra-clear highs. If the earbuds come with EQ adjustments either built into the hardware or you can make them via a smartphone app, you’ll be able to make changes to how they sound. Some offer one or two adjustments, while others offer a wide array of options. It’s not always tied to price: Some high-end earbuds like those from KEF or Grado don’t have any EQ settings at all. Some earbuds feature quick charging that lets you grab an extra hour or two of additional playtime for just a few minutes spent in the charging case. Without quick charging, it can take twice to three times as long to get an equivalent boost. Pairing true wireless earbuds used to be a pain, but these days it’s rarely more than a two-step process. Still, some models make it even easier with Fast Pair technology. Apple uses this on its AirPods and Beats models when they’re connecting to iOS devices, and there’s a similar version from Google for Android devices. Many newer models now come with the ability to locate missing earbuds and/or their charging case using the manufacturer’s app. As of 2021, some models are equipped with Apple’s Find My capability, which doesn’t require a third-party app if you’re using an iOS device. Finding capabilities will vary: Some apps let you trigger a locating sound from the earbuds, and some — like Skullcandy’s line of earbuds and headphones — use Tile’s tracking technology, which gives you a large community of users who can aid in locating lost items. A growing number of earbuds now include a fit test as part of their smartphone app. It’s typically only offered on earbuds that have feedback microphones for ANC. After playing a short test tone, the app will let you know if the eartips you’ve chosen are creating a strong enough seal for the best audio quality. Because Bluetooth compresses digital audio (see: Bluetooth codecs) there’s really no such thing as hi-res audio -capable true wireless earbuds. But that hasn’t stopped the Japan Audio Society from declaring the LDAC and LHDC codecs as “hi-res wireless audio.” It basically means that earbuds equipped with these codecs deliver the closest possible experience to true hi-res audio in a wireless product. But again, codecs aren’t as important to overall sound quality as software, drivers, and amplifiers, so keep that in mind. You might expect that all true wireless earbuds can work independently from one another, but this isn’t always the case. With some, you must always use both earbuds. With others, only one side works on its own. Water and dust resistance has become nearly universal on true wireless earbuds, but there can be a big difference between models. Some offer no official water resistance, like the AirPods, while others can be fully immersed, like the IP68 Jaybird Vista 2. Unlike some features such as ANC, you can find excellent waterproofing even in very affordable earbuds. These are the key to both great ANC/transparency and great phone calls. But don’t assume that just because a set of earbuds has two, four, six, or even eight microphones, that ANC and calling will be awesome — much depends on the way the mics are used and the signal processing that the earbuds employ. The key to getting the best sound and the best fit from a set of true wireless earbuds is finding the right size of silicone or foam eartips for your ears. This is easier when companies include a variety of eartip sizes. The lowest standard is the inclusion of three sizes (small, medium, and large), but increasingly, we’re seeing companies across the price spectrum beginning to include many more sizes and shapes to help buyers get the perfect fit. Check the description of what comes in the box to find out what each product offers. Passive noise isolation is an earbud’s ability to block external noise by preventing those sounds from entering the ear canal. Typically, the earbuds with the best passive noise isolation are those with silicone or foam eartips that create a tight seal in the ear canal’s opening. Some earbuds do such a good job at blocking sounds passively, that active noise cancellation (ANC) doesn’t make that much difference. Earbuds that don’t use eartips, like the AirPods or the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, usually do a poor job at noise isolation. Similar to transparency mode, sidetone lets you hear yourself more clearly on phone calls. Some models have a default level of sidetone, while others give you adjustments to fine-tune how much of your voice comes through. If you want to make changes to the EQ, the controls, or simply get firmware updates, your true wireless earbuds really need to have their own smartphone app. This is the one category where you usually get what you pay for. It’s possible to find lots of affordable true wireless earbuds that sound good, and even a few that sound way better than their price suggests, but as a rule, if you want the best sound quality, you’re looking at the high end of the price spectrum, starting at about $220. The majority of true wireless earbuds have touch-sensitive controls because it makes it easier to do things like waterproofing. But while some touch controls are highly responsive, many can be difficult to use. Unless a reviewer has indicated that a model’s touch controls are good, you may want to consider models that use physical buttons instead, like the. Beats Studio Buds, Jabra Elite 75t /85t, and Master & Dynamic MW08. If your earbuds offer ANC or they simply have very good passive noise isolation, having a transparency mode (often referred to as ambient sound) is helpful. When activated, it uses the onboard microphones to pipe external sounds into your ear. Some earbuds let you fine-tune the amount of external sound, and some even offer the option of amplifying that sound as a form of hearing enhancement. Transparency modes are not only helpful for having a conversation without needing to remove the earbuds, but they also offer greater situational awareness when you’re near potential hazards like traffic or construction, or even just to hear a crying baby. USB-C has become the standard charging connector for Android smartphones and even Apple iPads, so the majority of true wireless earbuds also use this connector on their charging cases. But some models still use the older Micro USB plug — if this matters to you, check the specs carefully before buying. It’s rare to find true wireless earbuds that don’t let you trigger your phone’s voice assistant but double-check the specs to make sure. More and more models are now offering advanced voice assistant functions. Some models give you a choice of Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa in addition to whatever assistant is on your phone by default. Yet others, like the JBL Tour Pro+, let you speak to these assistants using just their wake word instead of pressing a button. If this matters to you, look for models that promise “hands-free” voice assistant access. Wear sensors will let you automatically pause your music or podcast when you remove one or both earbuds, and by extension, they’ll auto-resume the tunes when you reinsert them. This is very handy for conversations, but as long as you don’t mind pressing the play/pause button, it’s not a must-have. Most let you turn the feature on and off, but for some, it’s alway on. This feature lets you recharge the earbuds’ charging case by dropping it on a Qi-compatible charging mat, instead of plugging it into a USB cable. If your phone supports accessory charging, you should be able to recharge the case from your phone, too.

 

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0.6
Staples is practically giving away the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 right now

Prime Day might be in the rear window, but there are still amazing deals happening on big-ticket tech items, like the ones you’ll find in these laptop deals. Right now, Staples is practically giving away this 14-inch Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 with touch display, one of the most versatile laptops that money can buy. It’s down to $810, a massive drop from its regular price of $900. That’s $90 off, but only if you act fast. The highlight of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is the versatility of its 14-inch touch display, which you can bend to adjust the functionality of your new laptop. You can set it up like a regular laptop, of course, but it also folds, so it can act like a tablet — wonderful for creative projects but also great for reading and streaming. It can also be folded back onto itself, creating a tent, which can be another great way to employ your laptop during travel or while collaborating with friends or coworkers. There’s also a Stand mode, which is also ideal for viewing content like your favorite TV shows as well as work presentations. But the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 isn’t just handy because of its hinge and screen; it’s got great guts as well. It’s powered by a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 quad-core processor with up to 4.7GHz speed and is loaded with 12GB of RAM, which will ensure that the newest games, and the biggest programs — like design or video editing software — will run quickly and smoothly. Also, there’s a giant amount (512GB) of solid-state drive storage to keep all your files safe and give you the ability to access them quickly. There’s great sound, thanks to Dolby Audio-based audio, and a 720p webcam with privacy shutter for all your Zoom calls. Also, it comes with Windows 10 Home, so it’s ready to work right out of the box. A final standout feature of this Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5: Its battery lasts up to 10 hours, which is really the most you can expect for a laptop that costs less than $1,000. That’s enough battery for all-day use between charges; you won’t ever worry about running out of battery when you leave your home for the day with this laptop in your bag. Nothing is more practical than a laptop with versatility, and it’s hard to find a handier one than the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5. Right now, at Staples, it’s down to only $810. That’s $90 off its regular price of $900 — a 10% drop. Don’t let this laptop get away! If a bendy Lenovo doesn’t strike you the right way, there are plenty of other options in the laptop deals below.

 

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0.5
Roku to Kick Off Its Own Slate of Originals With ‘The Demi Lovato Show’

As Roku wades into producing its own content, one of its first new originals will be a talk show hosted by singer Demi Lovato. The Demi Lovato Show is set to premiere July 30 on the Roku Channel. It was slated to premiere on Quibi before that streaming service's ill-fated shutdown. Lovato's show will maintain Quibi's short run-time; each 10-minute episode will feature celebrity guests and experts speaking with Lovato on topics such as gender identity, sex and body positivity, mental health, and UFOs. Jameela Jamil, Lucy Hale, and transgender beauty icon Nikita Dragun are the first known guests to appear on the show, with more to be announced. “As a voice of a generation, we’re very excited to have Demi Lovato at the forefront of The Demi Lovato Show,” Roku said in its press release. The pop star is involved in a myriad of projects as of late. Lovato is currently working on their first podcast,4D with Demi Lovato, and they’re also set to star in and executive produce Hungry, a new sitcom with NBCUniversal. In addition, Lovato was recently the subject of YouTube docuseries Dancing with the Devil, which covers the star's substance abuse struggle. In April, Roku snapped up Quibi’s asset library for less than $100 million after the company closed its doors, rebranding old Quibi shows as Roku Originals. The Demi Lovato Show, previously announced as Pillow Talk with Demi Lovato, was never aired on Quibi, making the show the first Roku Original to debut on the Roku Channel to date. According to the company, more than 75 titles will stream on the Roku Channel as free and ad-supported content.

 

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0.7
Pokemon Go Bidoof Special Research Branching Quest

Trainers, the Bidoof Day event is underway and a new free event-exclusive Special Research story and branching quest are now available for all players. The first branching quests are now live in the game and the Bidoof Special Research is the first Special Research in which players will be able to choose paths and experience their own story. The Bidoof Special Research is a four-stage Research quest featuring various tasks, Pokemon encounters, and rewards. Also, completing the research players will earn an exclusive Bidoof Hat avatar item. BIDOOF Step 1 BIDOOF Choose Bidoof Step 2 Branching Quest BIDOOF…? Step 2 Branching Quest BIDOOF Nerves of Steel Step 3 Branching Quest BIDOOF Nests near Water Step 3 Branching Quest BIDOOF Step 4 Hey there, %PLAYERNAME%! Just who I wanted to see. I just received a unique research request regarding a particular Pokémon, and I think you’re the perfect Trainer to help me with it. Let’s warm up with a few tasks first, and then we can dive into the meat of it! Welcome back, Trainer. I have a few more details to share about the research request I received. A favorite of new and experienced Trainers alike, Bidoof, the Plump Mouse Pokémon, has been appearing more often of late. Intriguing, no? Now, before we continue, I have a very important choice for you to make. Will you focus your research on Bidoof or the Plump Mouse Pokémon? Is this a trick question? Who could say! My only advice is to follow your heart. Besides, it’s hard to go wrong when Bidoof is your only option! Great choice, Trainer! For some reason, I just knew you’d pick Bidoof. Don’t ask me how! Bidoof is known for its two large front teeth. Much like Rattata’s teeth, Bidoof’s teeth are continually growing. Speaking of teeth, I have a few tasks that you can sink yours into now! Wonderful choice, Trainer! I had a feeling you’d pick the Plump Mouse Pokémon. Don’t ask me why! Otherwise known as Bidoof, this Normal-type Pokémon is far from ordinary! While only about a foot tall, Bidoof is powerful. It can chew through boulders with its incisors—a feat that makes my jaw hurt to even think about. Welcome back, %PLAYERNAME%. Hopefully you got a few good snapshots of Bidoof while conducting your research! I always enjoy seeing the snapshots Trainers take of Pokémon, and I can never get enough of Bidoof! Now—according to the research request we received, we must choose to focus our efforts on a Pokémon that has nerves of steel or a Pokémon that nests alongside water. I know what you’re thinking: choosing between Bidoof and Bidoof isn’t easy. But, then again, the most important research rarely is! You’re going with Bidoof, huh? I like your style, %PLAYERNAME%. Bidoof isn’t just cute to look at—it’s more agile and active than it appears! Nothing can perturb it, making it an excellent member of your team. I think we could all learn from that steadiness. Channel your inner Bidoof so you can steel your nerves, too! You choose Bidoof, eh? I never doubted it for a second. Bidoof often live in groups by the water where they make their nests. I recall that Bibarel, Bidoof’s Evolution, makes its nest by damming streams with bark and mud. A river dammed by Bibarel will never overflow its banks, which is appreciated by people nearby. Fascinating, don’t you think? Thank you, %PLAYERNAME%, for assisting me with this special assignment. I think we all learned that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Pokémon—especially Bidoof! As a thank-you for your hard work, the team leaders and I prepared a gift for you to help show the world your love and knowledge of the indelible Bidoof. I hope you wear it with the pride it deserves. Why don’t you put it on and enjoy a nice walk with your Bidoof? You never know what you might discover! Now, let’s GO! NOTE: The BIDOOF Special Research is live only in some parts of the world.

 

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1.3
Does the Nintendo Switch have Bluetooth?

Modern video game consoles are loaded with wireless technology, including the Nintendo Switch. However, just because it has wireless technology doesn’t necessarily mean you can connect any accessory you like. In particular, the system doesn’t seem to play nice with Bluetooth accessories. Does the Switch have Bluetooth at all? If so, what do you need in order to connect wireless headphones? The Nintendo Switch does indeed have Bluetooth. Wireless communication between the base console and controllers is achieved through Bluetooth 4.1 technology. However, Nintendo Switch Bluetooth does not currently support wireless headphones without the use of a third-party accessory. Obviously, this information is a bit of a double-edged sword. Yes, the Switch has Bluetooth, but no, you can’t use it to connect third-party wireless accessories. Instead, the system’s wireless capabilities are mainly focused around first-party wireless controllers. Both the standard Joy-Con controllers as well as the Switch Pro Controller communicate over Bluetooth wireless. If you want to connect other wireless accessories to a Nintendo Switch, such as controllers or headphones, you’ll need a third-party accessory. For controllers, the 8Bitdo Wireless USB adapter is a great choice. It’s compatible with the Switch, and allows you to connect all manner of gamepads. The dongle works not only with 8Bitdo controllers, but also the Xbox One controller, the PS4 DualShock 4, and even the PS5 DualSense. For headphones, things get a bit more tricky. Different accessories are available depending on whether you usually play in handheld or TV mode. Fortunately, both types of players can use the HomeSpot Bluetooth 5.0 Audio Adapter, as it includes a USB-A converter that lets you use wireless headphones in docked mode. Otherwise, you should be able to use any standard wireless headphone adapter that’s based around a 3.5mm connection. While the Nintendo Switch does have Bluetooth connectivity, it can’t be used for third-party accessories. Instead, the system’s wireless capabilities are used almost exclusively for Joy-Cons and the Switch Pro controller. To learn more about Nintendo’s hybrid handheld, be sure to check out our collection of Nintendo Switch guides.

 

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0.5
Surprise, surprise! Microsoft exec says the government is spying on you

Intelligence agencies may have begun life as a good idea -- a way to keep their respective countries safe -- and in the beginning we mostly trusted them. But their overt secrecy soon became apparent with things like the famous Roswell incident and the best known "secret" location in the world -- Area 51. But there’s much more to the secretiveness than just speculation of little green men. If we didn’t already suspect as much, Edward Snowden showed us a lot of what went on behind-the-scenes in these clandestine agencies. All of these government branches have denied spying on US citizens, despite being contradicted by Snowden. However, James Clapper, when he was head of the National Security Agency (NSA), carefully worded his statement to congress when asked "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" He replied saying, "not wittingly". Fast forward to now and we again get told that, yes, the government does spy on us. In front of congress, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, Tom Burt, testified to the House Judiciary Committee. Burt was there regarding the recent revelation of data being sought under AG Barr on reporters and members of congress. However, he revealed the harvest went much deeper. He testified that the agencies began to sometimes ask for requests to be kept quiet, but developed "a practice of reflexively asking to keep even routine investigations secret." "What may be most shocking," he said, "is just how routine court-mandated secrecy has become when law enforcement targets Americans’ emails, text messages, and other sensitive data stored in the cloud." Burt went on to cite numbers, saying that Microsoft receives between 2,400 and 3,500 secrecy orders per year. The odds your data is in their hands is, honestly, still pretty slim. You would have had to have been swept up in a net set for someone wanted for a crime or a foreign entity that means the US harm. Most of you are unlikely to fall into those categories. In others words, the grocery list you emailed to your spouse is pretty safe. Photo credit: Bob Venezia / Shutterstock

 

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0.1
Windows 11 did away with folder icon thumbnails, and we did not even notice

When Microsoft introduced new folder icons for what turned out to be Windows 11, the long-awaited design update was much lauded, such that we did not even notice that we were losing a major feature. It turns out the new shell icons in Windows 11 no longer show previews of the content of the folders. Noticed by OmNomDeBonBon on the Windows 11 Subreddit, the change means you can no longer easily see what kind of files are inside a folder. The change may explain some of the speed improvements in Windows 11, and it is not clear if Microsoft plans to bring the feature back again. There is an additional question of what such previews would look like with the horizontal folders, with some Windows 11 users suggesting the Windows XP-style thumbnails would be the perfect solution. Did any of our readers notice this change, and do you prefer the new look? Let us know below.

 

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0.0
Aliens Is Back, Fireteam Elite Drops On August 24th

Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom| Jun 30,2021| General Tech| 0 Taking the Aliens movies and transferring that world from the big screen to a computer screen seemed like an easy thing to do well. Indeed the first few games, up to the first incarnations of the Aliens Versus Predator series were indeed quite fun and the 90’s version of Aliens offered an incredible multiplayer experience, with a somewhat decent single player campaign as well. Since that time the games, with the exception of Alien: Isolation and it’s unique game play style, have ranged from poor to abysmal. A serious decline in quality over the lifetime of a series has not stopped game developers from developing new games in the past, and Aliens is no exception. On August 24th Aliens: Fireteam Elite will arrive on Steam and we will get a chance to see if the series has somehow been revived successfully or if this is another example of how not to design a game. This time it will be a three person co-op shooter, which seems to be at least partially a third person cover based shooter, with the possibility of first person play implied by the trailer over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN. It is rather difficult to tell from the trailer as it spends a lot of time showing video which is obviously not representative of gameplay… unless there are a lot of quick time events in the game. You will be able to choose between five classes, including the Gunner, Demolisher, Technician, Doc and Recon though we have little to no idea who does what; it’s unlikely the Recon class is the one with the flamethrower. In addition to classes will be a Perk Board to improve and specialize your class abilities, and a Challenge Card system will do something as well. In case you aren’t yet worried, only about half of the things you battle be Aliens and you will have 30 moddable weapons to chose from and upgrade. Let’s hope that they spent a bit of time designing a decent game to play in between all the aforementioned extras. Share:

 

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1.0
Shopify Launches Online Store Version 2.0

Shopify is currently hosting its Unite conference and has announced the release of version 2.0 of the company’s online store. With this update, Shopify has unlocked new opportunities for developers to build Platform experiences and themes. The company has also provided guidance for upgrading themes to 2.0 standards. The first significant news for developers as part of this upgrade is an upgraded theme architecture that the company claims makes customization much more flexible. Additionally, themes will now allow for sections on all pages. Previously this functionality was limited to the front page and required significant editing to enable workarounds. Shopify has uploaded a getting started video that outlines this update. To further bolster this new theme architecture Shopify has added theme app extension capabilities, which are intended to streamline the process of integrating applications with themes. Previously this was a manual process that required retooling for each theme. These are just a couple of highlights from the full product announcement that developers should make sure to check out for further detail. And don’t forget to take a look at the migration guide for themes that need to be updated to the 2.0 standard.

 

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0.9
This is the Google Pixel Buds deal you’ve been waiting for

There are a host of headphone deals available, whether you want some truly wireless earbuds or traditional over-the-ear style headphones. Deal variety is welcome because that means you can choose precisely what matches your needs and preferences. Not everyone wants Apple AirPods, after all. For example, it’s always nice to see Google Pixel deals, especially if you’re invested in the Android ecosystem. For anyone who has had their eye on the Google Pixel earbuds (Google Pixel Buds 2), Staples is currently hosting an awesome deal on the Almost Black model. You can get them for $129 with free delivery, which is $50 off the regular price. As with most pop-up deals like this, we don’t know how long it’s going to last, so take advantage while you can. It’s important to point out that although Google calls them the Pixel Buds, they are the second generation of wireless earbuds and are better referred to as the Google Pixel Buds 2. Some notable points from our Google Pixel Buds 2 review reveal that the earbuds have a streamlined setup, an attractive look, excellent voice integration, and a bevy of useful features. They also “pack a big boost in audio quality.” The Pixel Buds 2 offer 5 hours of playtime, with a wireless charging case for quick power boosts on the go. They’re completely wireless thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, and they sync easily with compatible devices. That’s a huge difference over the previous model, which had a tether between the earbuds. The 12mm drivers are powerful and deliver excellent bass, clear sound, and a top-notch experience. While they do come in a few colors, only the Almost Black variant is on sale at Staples right now. You can take them home, or have them shipped to your doorstep, for $129. That’s down from the normal price of $180 — you’re getting $50 off the full price, which is an awesome deal. We don’t know how long it’s going to last, though, so don’t take too long. The Google Pixel Buds aren’t the only true wireless earbuds on sale right now. We rounded up all the best alternatives, which you’ll find below. Take a look and see if there’s anything you like.

 

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0.9
Deal Alert: Surface Book 3 i5(8GB+256GB) is $200 cheaper today

Amazon is offering a handsome $200 discount on Microsoft Surface Book 3. The i5 variant of the Book 3(8GB+512GB) is now available at a price point of $1,399.00, down from $1,599.99. If you do the math, that’s an impressive $200.99 discount! The design of the Surface Book 3 remains the same, however, Microsoft has upgraded the internals to offer better performance. Thanks to the 10th gen Intel Core processors, the Book 3 delivers 50% better performance than the Surface Book 2. On the GPU front, you can now select between NVIDIA GeForce GTX or Quadro RTX GPUs. Despite the improved performance, Microsoft claims that Surface Book 3 will offer up to 17.5 hours of battery life. Also, the third-Gen Surface Book now comes with up to 32GB of RAM and the fastest SSD Microsoft has ever shipped. You can buy Surface Book 3 at a discounted price here from Amazon.

 

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0.9
Right-Wing Media Outraged Energy Secretary Mentions Climate Change and Miami Condo Collapse

In a Tuesday interview with, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm suggested that sea level rise may have played a role in the devastating collapse of a condominium building in Surfside last week that killed 16 and left dozens still missing. “We don’t know fully, but we do know that the seas are rising,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Erica Hill . “We know that we’re losing inches and inches of beach. It’s not just in Florida, but all around.” This is a wholly accurate representation of the issue. While investigations are indeed currently ongoing, the threat of sea level rise to coastal buildings—especially those built on porous limestone and fill found throughout Florida—is very real. Yet instead of pondering these risks and possible solutions, reactionary conservatives took the outrage machine route. On Twitter, they predictably lost their minds over this, even though it was a tame and measured remark. “There’s nothing that can’t be blamed on climate change,” National Review editor Rich Lowry tweeted mockingly. A writer for RedState.com chimed in that the remarks were “absolutely ghoulish.” The Young America’s Foundation, presided over by 53-year-old former Gov. Scott Walker, called them “shameful.” Some outlets, namely the New York Post and Fox News, got mad enough to write entire stories about Granholm’s comments. Both were particularly upset that Granholm took the opportunity to say the U. S. needs to boost climate resilience, in particular through the coming infrastructure bill. How vulgar to be proactive instead of merely offering thoughts and prayers! Both the Post and Fox also pointed out that there’s no hard evidence that the climate crisis had anything to do with the collapse. But the outlets failed to acknowledge that Granholm herself said as much herself. Nor did they acknowledge what is clear: Sea level rise and subsidence are threats to buildings in South Florida. Without serious climate action, more people could suffer. “The faux-outrage surrounding Hill’s question is less about being offended on behalf of the victims of this tragic accident and more about creating a chilling effect that makes asking climate questions verboten while providing fodder to keep audiences constantly outraged,” Evlondo Cooper, Media Matters’ climate and energy senior writer, wrote in an email. (Media Matters noted that Granholm advised their organization before taking her current role). It’s no surprise that the right is taking such offense to the mention of climate change in the face of disaster. This is simply what it does. When Texas’ grid failed during a cold snap this year and some called for a Green New Deal, Fox said it was an attempt to “capitalize” on the crisis. Conservative lawmakers and media then went on to blame the Green New Deal for the blackouts despite Texas having nothing close to resembling it. After 2019's unprecedented wildfires in Australia, conservative officials said mentioning climate change was “disgusting.” The cause, they falsely claimed, was arson. Subsequent research has identified climate change’s definitive role in causing the fire weather. After 2017's Hurricane Irma, then-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said “to have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm, versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.” Research, again, shows that climate change made 2017's nightmarish hurricane season worse. Don’t get me wrong, it’s true that we don’t yet know how the Surfside condo collapse, and experts have cautioned against jumping to conclusions. In the aftermath of a disaster, one can be forgiven for wanting to be sensitive. But in the wake of a horrific disaster like this, it’s possible to offer support for mourning families and make a plan for how to avoid even more catastrophes in the future. In fact, the Biden administration should be doing far more of the latter, not less.

 

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0.5
Google Pay can securely store your COVID-19 vaccine info

Google has updated the Passes API to enable a secure way of storing your COVID-19 vaccination card and/or testing status on your Android smartphone, marking yet another way that Google has tried to help authorities combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The Passes API lets third-party developers create boarding passes, loyalty cards, digital tickets, etc. that the user can save to Google Pay for easy access. Thanks to the Passes API, it’s possible to aggregate your boarding passes and loyalty cards in the Google Pay app, making it quick and easy to board a flight or keep up with your subscriptions. Now, the Passes API has been updated so developers from healthcare organizations, government agencies, or organizations authorized by public health authorities can integrate a user’s digital COVID-19 vaccine card/testing information into Google Pay. The digital COVID-19 vaccination card or test report can then be accessed from the owner’s smartphone and shown to relevant personnel who may need to see it. Anyone with a device running Android 5 or higher — so long as their device is Google Play certified — can digitally store their COVID-19 vaccination info or testing status on their device. Google said in its blog post that this feature will roll out in the United States first followed by other countries. To ensure that user’s private medical information isn’t leaked, Google says the API stores a digital certificate on the smartphone that is not uploaded to the cloud. Once stored on-device, the card can be accessed from the owner’s home screen, even when offline or with a weak Internet connection. The user can store it on multiple devices, though they’ll need to manually do so, as it is not stored in the cloud on Google’s services. Information on the card is not shared with Google and will not be used for advertisements or other services. Finally, a lock screen is required for storing a COVID-19 card on-device, in order to protect the user’s information. Even accessing the card will require the saved password, pin, or biometric method used on the device. Qualified providers can let Google know of their interest here. Users do not need to actually install the Google Pay app to access their COVID-19 vaccination or test cards, since the Passes API and addition/retrieval of cards are all handled through Google Play Services which comes preinstalled on all phones with Google Mobile Services.

 

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0.0
Warhammer Vermintide 2 Update Adds Sister of the Thorn, Chaos Wastes to Consoles

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is a pretty successful game that offers a smooth multiplayer experience to Warhammer fans. That being said, the folks at Fatshark have been adding new content to their game quite often. The most recent update brings Sister of the Thorn and Chaos Wastes faction to Playstation and Xbox consoles. Both pieces of content were initially launched on the PC earlier this year, but only Xbox players got access to Chaos Wastes at the same time. Today, Fatshark brings all three versions of Warhammer: Vermintide 2 on par when it comes to content. While the Xbox version is only getting Sister of the Thorn, PlayStation players are getting Chaos Wastes too. The Sister of the Thorn is a new career for Kerillian that brings new abilities, weapon types, talent tree, character skin, challenges as well as a new hat and new voice lines. In this new career, Kerillian uses magic in a more efficient way. The Sister of the Thorn brings the heaviest support of all careers in the game, so it will be a great addition to any team. Here is what Sister of the Thorn features: Briar Javelin, Deepwood Staff, new talent tree, exclusive character skin, new challenges, new voice lines, and a new hat. On the other hand, PlayStation 4 players are getting access to Chaos Wastes, the next chapter in the Vermintide 2 story. Available as a free download, Chaos Wastes invites players to try to reach the Citadel of Eternity. In order to survive the journey to the Citadel, the heroes will have to leave their hard-earned armor behind and go back to basics. The journey begins where it all began over three years ago, and armed only with simple equipment that will require skills to use effectively rather than just hiding behind a maxed-out Iron Breaker. The Chaos Waste chapter adds some new features like Pilgrim’s Coins, Chest of Trials, Shrines, Waystone Altars, potions, and Twitch Integration, which lets the audience join in on the adventure and help the players on their journey by voting on what will happen next.

 

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0.4
Far-Right Site Gab Is Very Mad Their Favorite One-Term President Passed on Them

Gab, the Facebook/Twitter knockoff historically popular with white supremacists, is hopping mad that Donald Trump chose video site Rumble instead of it as the ex-president’s new social media destination. Ever since Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube (to name just the most prominent sites) suspended Trump’s accounts after he helped incite a riot at the Capitol on Jan.6, resulting in multiple deaths, Trump has been galumphing around searching for a new internet megaphone. He briefly l aunched his own blog, but pulled a classic blogger move and deleted it in anger, reportedly after it got pathetic pageviews. Other options have been generally unpalatable. For example, the Wall Street Journal reported Trump was considering no-name contenders like CloutHub and FreeSpace, which might well roll over and let Trump do whatever he wants on them, but are so small that it would frankly look kind of pathetic. Trump never joined far-right site Parler, reportedly after negotiations for Trump to get a slice of the site’s stock ended in nothing. Then there’s Gab, an alternative social media site founded by Trump supporter Andrew Torba that is crawling with anti-Semites, racists, and neo-Nazis. Gab is probably best known for being the platform of choice for a mass shooter who killed 11 people and wounded six others at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, but it was also used by Capitol rioters to organize online. Torba is perhaps best known for furious diatribes in which he characterizes claims that he or his shitty site is racist or anti-Semitic as left-wing media smears, despite bounteous evidence suggesting that is exactly what they are. As Slate reported, Torba has since posted to Gab speculating that perhaps Trump joining Rumble was the work of Jewish people. “On the day President Trump joined Rumble they changed their terms of service to ban “hate speech’ with an explicit ban on ‘ anti-semitic’ messages, also known as any and all criticism of Israel and/or Jewish people,” Torba wrote. “No mention of banning Anti-White hatred, which is still allowed.” Slate noted that Torba appeared on the extremist outlet TruNews earlier this month to claim that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who happens to be Jewish, had demanded that Torba remove anti-Semitic hate speech as some sort of prerequisite for joining Gab. (Torba wove a tale in which he explained that Kushner “called them Jew-haters, I called them Jew criticizers,” and then rambled on about how Gab’s position is that any speech that isn’t illegal or threatening violence is allowed on the site.) Kushner’s name has popped up in media reports that he intervened to stop Trump from joining either Parler or Gab, but no sources have ever claimed Trump negotiated with Gab other than Torba and the reports didn’t mention efforts to have the sites change their policies. John Matze, who was the CEO of Parler until GOP mega-donor and company chairman Rebekah Mercer reportedly pushed him out in an internal power struggle, posted his own theory to Gab: Rumble simply paid Trump off. “I wonder how much equity or money Rumble had to give... The same rumble that runs entirely on Google ads. Google analytics, etc... IE big tech..”, Matze posted, according to Slate. “Not that I think Trump’s brand is worth anything anymore.” As previously mentioned, Matze has claimed to have some personal experience with the matter. BuzzFeed reported that sources and documents showed that throughout 2020, Parler offered up to give up to as much of 40% of its total equity to Trump if he registered an account. The deal, which would have been tantamount to a bribe as Trump was in office at the time, was never finalized. BuzzFeed reported that White House lawyers intervened to nix the negotiations, citing ethics rules. In the wake of the Capitol riot and reports of Parler users’ involvement, Apple and Google kicked Parler’s app off their respective stores and Amazon terminated its cloud hosting. Matze, still CEO at the time, wrote in filings in a failed suit demanding Amazon reinstate its hosting that Trump had considered joining Parler under the cringeworthy moniker “Person X.” Rumble is a fitting garbage dump for future Trump videos. O riginally a clearinghouse for licensing viral videos, Rumble saw a number of prominent Republicans including Rep. Devin Nunes and former NRATV host/insufferable pundit Dan Bongino register accounts throughout 2020, in response to claims conservatives were being censored elsewhere. (They were not; Bongino actually runs a not inconsiderable right-wing media empire on Facebook and continues to tweet despite promising to leave Twitter forever.) Rumble proved eager to cash in on the potential new audience. Today, its content consists largely of conservative outrage bait like news clips re-uploaded with angry captions, right-wing podcasts, reaction videos by Donald Trump Jr., and fawning vanity accounts like the “Devin Nunes Press.” Cincinnati-based Narya Capital, which is run by Hillbilly Elegy author and potential Ohio Senate candidate J. D. Vance and is backed by venture capital vampire Peter Thiel, recently invested big money in Rumble in a deal that reportedly valued it at $500 million. ( Disclosure: Thiel secretly funded a lawsuit that led to the bankruptcy of Gizmodo’s former parent company, Gawker Media.) Trump’s YouTube channel, which is currently locked down on an indefinite basis, has 2.75 million followers. As of Wednesday morning, he has just over 400,000 on Rumble. It remains to be seen whether Trump’s account on the video site, which compared to major social media platforms has far fewer resources at its disposal to market itself to new users or maintain their interest in the long run, will fare any better than the deleted blog. Rumble didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story, but we’ll update in the scenario we hear back.

 

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Remedy Entertainment working on two new Control games

Remedy has announced that they’re working on two new Control Games, in a publishing and development agreement with 505 Games. Codenamed Condor, the next game within the Control franchise is going to be a multiplayer spin-off title that’s “set to expand the world we kicked off with Control,” according to Control game director Mikael Kasurinen. “We kicked it [Control] off with Jesse’s entry into the Oldest House, but there is more to this world. Oh, so much more. And Project Condor will be an expression of that,” Kasurinen continued, before later revealing a concept image for project Condor. In this image, we see four variously armed and equipped players with a bodybag at their feet, dragged in from off-screen. Waiting for their number to be called to process their kill, it looks like project Condor might have some bounty hunting vibes if we want to get speculative. In the blog post, it was revealed that project Condor wasn’t the only project that Remedy is working on, as they’re also working on a much more secretive game that’ll “expand the Control franchise with a bigger-budget Control-game.” There are no release dates for either of these projects, and Kasurinen even closed the blog post by saying that “it is going to be a long time before we show off these projects,” but hopefully both these games will be well worth the wait whenever they release.

 

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0.5
Best audio PC in 2021: Digital Audio Workstations and audiophile machines

The best audio PCs boast more than sheer power to run Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software. As essential tools for music producers and musicians, these computers can be rather demanding when it comes to specs. So it’s true that every audio PCs has to have enough power to run DAW software like Image-Line FL Studio, PreSonus Studio One and Cubase without a hitch - no matter how many tracks you're working on. Still, the best audio PCs and laptops need to have more than just cutting edge components. They should also be able to allow you to plug in multiple musical instruments, have a large enough hard drive to store your projects and uncompressed audio files, and have top-notch onboard audio quality – not to mention the ability to plug into external speakers and monitors. If you're looking for the best audio PCs, then you've come to the right place. We've listed the top machines that are ideal for music production, taking everything above into consideration. It’s quite a demanding checklist so many of these PCs are expensive. Just know that they are well worth the money. Plus, included is our built-in price comparison tool, which scours the internet to bring you the best prices for these devices. The new iMacs are not just an improvement over their 21.5-inch predecessor externally, touting a fresh new face that comes in several different colors. They also come with fresh new specs, rocking Apple’s new M1 chip that makes it much more powerful than the previous Intel iMacs. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that the new iMac (24-inch,2021) is the best and most efficient all-in-one PC we’ve ever tested, making it the best audio PC right now. It’s not the most affordable, but you’ll be happy to know that you are getting great value here, as you’re getting the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse included – in matching colors, we might add. Read the full review: iMac (24-inch,2021) The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1,2020) may not have gotten a massive design overhaul, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for in performance and battery life. Thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers excellent performance and exceptional battery life. Its performance is so impressive, in fact, that it can easily handle 4K - and even 8K - videos – let alone music production. If you’re looking for a powerful yet portable PC for making music, this is the best audio PC money can buy. Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1,2020) One of Apple’s biggest surprises of the year is the update to its smallest Mac. The brand-new Mac mini now touts Apple’s M1 chip, while keeping things the same in its much-loved design. It’s more powerful than ever – with performance powerful enough for music production and even 8K video editing, thanks to this new chip. That’s while still keeping its title as the cheapest Mac ever – terrific news for budget-minded musicians and music producers. Read the full review: Mac mini (M1,2020) Not that you need one of the most powerful laptops in existence for making music, but if you do want it, the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition will no doubt take your breath away thanks to its sheer power and stunning display. This is a mobile workstation that can compete with even the most powerful desktop PCs and is worthy of the most complex tasks like 3D animation and video editing, let alone music production. The steep price is just as breathtaking, however, so only invest if you really want that much firepower and can afford it. Read the full review: Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020) The Surface Studio 2 is a great alternative to Apple's iMacs, and if you'd rather use Windows 10 over macOS, then this all-in-one from Microsoft is an excellent choice. Sleek, stylish and capable of handling DAW software with ease, along with a bright and vibrant built-in display, this is an excellent audio PC that would look great in anyone's studio. It's not quite as powerful as the latest iMac, however, so if you want pure power, go for Apple's all-in-one. Still, this is an excellent performer, that's ideal for creatives. Read the full review: Surface Studio 2 The formidable Acer ConceptD 7 is capable of handling complex and demanding tasks such as audio production. Clearly designed specifically with creative professionals in mind, it boasts that sheer power you’ll only find in workstations and gaming laptops. Beyond that excellent performance it delivers, it also offers decent port selection, a minimalist solid white design and that stunning Pantone-validated 4K IPS display. Obviously, it’s still pretty pricey, but no professional’s tool comes cheap. If you’re looking for a Windows-powered MacBook alternative for audio production, this is a fantastic choice. Read the full review: Acer ConceptD 7 Lenovo’s latest all-in-one offering isn’t as powerful as Apple’s premium AIO, the iMac Pro, or even the recently updated iMac, which now offers a 9th-generation Intel Core configuration. After all, the 8th-generation chips and Radeon RX 560 graphics are aging at this point. However, it is still plenty powerful to meet the needs of creative professionals out there who are not entirely impressed by Apple’s pricey machines. On top of that, the Lenovo Yoga A940 has a few aces up its sleeves, including 100% Adobe RGB support and Dolby Vision, a set of Dolby Atmos speakers, a port offering that’s more generous than Apple’s all-in-one, and a stylus included in the box. Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga A940 Professionals and creatives need something that can handle any workload they can possibly throw at it. If you’re one such user, the iMac Pro isn’t just one of the best Macs for you; it’s the only Mac to consider. Not only does it have a vibrant 27-inch 5K display with a P3 wide color gamut, but it also boasts some of the most powerful hardware Apple could get its hands on. It’s extremely expensive though, so it’s really only meant for folks who have deep pockets and need that unbridled power to get through their daily workloads. Read the full review: iMac Pro

 

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1.4
A new, gay Captain America can’t save United States of Captain America #1

It’s Captain America’s 80th Anniversary! Happy Birthday, Steve Rogers. In celebration, Marvel has decided to spread the love around. In the new series United States of Captain America, the likes of former and current Captains like Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson, and Bucky Barnes rub shoulders with a whole new crew of diverse Captains America from across the nation.

 

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FPS documentary will capture the history of first-person shooter games

I was around when Doom debuted as a first-person shooter in 1993. People stayed late at their offices so they could play the game on their work computer networks. While the graphics look primitive today, Doom was a scary experience. I still recall staring into the darkness and then hearing a demon growl before sending a fireball straight at me. The creators of a new documentary, FPS: First Person Shooter, are reviving those memories. CreatorVC launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to finance the launch of what they say will be a three-hour retrospective documentary capturing the history of FPS games including Doom, Halo, Duke Nukem, and many other titles. The campaign has already received $42,000 in pledges, just shy of its $44,327 goal. They’re billing it as the definitive documentary that brings together the legends who created the genre, highlights the legacy of the most popular and significant FPS titles from the last 48 years, and gives fans the chance to be involved in this iconic celebration. More than 35 of the industry’s most influential FPS creators have signed on to be a part of the documentary, including Cliff Bleszinski (designer of Unreal, Unreal Tournament, Gears of War); John Romero (cofounder of id Software and Ion Storm); Ed Fries (cofounder of Xbox and former head of Microsoft Game Studios); Jaime Griesemer (co-creator of Halo and Destiny); Robin Walker (co-creator of Team Fortress, Half-Life 2); Dave Oshry (director of Rise of the Triad); Dave Lebling (Maze War); Randy Pitchford (cofounder of Borderlands creator Gearbox Software); Scott Miller (cofounder of Apogee Software/3D Realms), and many more. Joining these creatives are some of the most well-known players of these titles such as Amy “Valkyrie”/”Athena” Brady (Frag Dolls and PMS Clan cofounder), along with Dennis “Thresh” Fong (recognized as gaming’s first pro player). This journey starts from the genre’s humble beginnings in the 1970s with the simple wireframe graphics of Maze War through to the present day. It will cover titles such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Unreal Tournament, GoldenEye, Half-Life, Halo, Call of Duty, and beyond. The focus will be on behind-the-scenes stories and unheard anecdotes in engaging interviews that provide new insights into FPS fans’ favorite games. “We are excited and humbled to be working with the amazing creators who had the vision to start and evolve this genre,” said Robin Block, the founder and CEO of CreatorVC, the team behind the love letter to FPS games, in a statement. “As with all of our previous documentaries, FPS: First-Person Shooter will be a fan-driven retrospective about the genre’s origins and its modern-day domination. Mobilizing fans and making them co-creators is critical to our creative process — adding their ideas, experiences, and expertise to the process. We are excited to get fan input on our Discord and social media channels, to hear which games, weapons, levels, characters, industry influencers and moments fans feel were the best in the genre’s history.” CreatorVC is an independent producer of community-based entertainment: long-form factual content that is funded, inspired, and shaped by a dedicated community of fans. CreatorVC previously made In Search of Darkness, which delves into horror films and characters from the 1980s. That film has a 94% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It made a sequel to that, and it recently crowdfunded an ‘80s sci-fi documentary In Search of Tomorrow, which raised $1.3 million from nearly 11,000 backers.

 

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0.4
Loki and The Simpsons Team Up in Disney's New Corporate Synergy Stunt

You know how Disney owns everything now? Here’s another chance to see it on display in The Simpsons’ latest Disney+ animated short, which sees Tom Hiddleston ’s Loki taking a break from, well, Loki to visit Springfield and do things with Bart Simpson. In an emailed press release, Disney+ announced a new animated short called “The Good, The Bart, and The Loki.” Created in the vein of the previous Simpsons crossover short “Maggie Simpson in The Force Awakens from Its Nap, ” this one places the All-American Sitcom Family in the path of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hiddleston reprises his role as Loki, who has been bouncing around the timeline in the Disney+ series Loki. Here’s a synopsis for the upcoming animated short: “The Good, The Bart, and The Loki” will debut on Disney+ July 7, which happens to be the same day the penultimate episode of Loki comes out. The series has focused on Loki’s time (heh-heh) in the Time Variance Authority, an organization sworn to preserving “The Sacred Timeline.” It’s believed the series, much like WandaVision, is setting things up for the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which will help introduce Marvel’s multiverse into the MCU (alongside the upcoming Spider-Man threequel). Loki has given us plenty of twists and turns, which is fitting for the God/Goddess of Mischief, but none of them have included turning Loki animated and sending him into a town that’s existed for 700+ episodes. Until now, that is. Hey, remember when The Simpsons did a crossover episode with The Critic and creator Matt Groening hated it? Random thought. Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

 

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0.7
Apple Tips International Collection Bands for Apple Watch Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

(International Collection Sport Loop bands and Stripes watch faces for France, Germany, and Great Britain.) Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Apple this week launched its International Collection bands for Apple Watch in celebration of athletes across the globe. The limited-edition Sport Loop bands feature 22 unique and colorful designs to represent those nations across the globe. The collection is only available on Apple.com for Apple Watch Series 4, Apple Watch SE, and later. Available in 40mm and 44mm sizes, the bands are $49 (US). (Image: Apple) The International Collection serves as a spotlight for the usefulness of Apple's App Clips feature, which will allow people to easily download their matching countries' Stripes Apple Watch Face. However, by visiting the Apple Watch page, you can get your nation-themed watch face now instead of waiting for the band to arrive. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics had to be postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic; the international sporting event will finally take place later this summer. Apple did not associate the release of the International Collection with the games, although it heavily features six-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Amy Van Dyken modeling the watch in its press release. In the past, Apple did another limited-edition run of international watch bands ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Featuring 14 nations, the bands were only available at the Village Mall in Barra da Tijuca, Brazil.

 

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0.8
5 things I love about returning to the OnePlus 9 Pro, and 1 I want to love more

I slipped my SIM card back inside the OnePlus 9 Pro just over a week ago, after using a string of cheaper but still capable Android smartphones, and since then I’ve been noticing the little things that make it special. During my return to the OnePlus 9 Pro, it’s also clear that software updates have fixed a few issues I had with the phone during my April review. We already recommend the OnePlus 9 Pro, so that’s not about to change, but I want to highlight five things about the phone that have really stood out this time around, along with one thing that still needs attention but still manages to make me excited about the future of OnePlus phones. The more you use a phone, the more you begin to notice the little things that make it either special to own, or better to use than other models. Since reviewing the OnePlus 9 Pro, I’ve gone back to it several times, including for a retest of the camera, and more recently for this extended period of everyday use. Here are the five things that stood out. Haptics, the little vibration that accompanies screen touches, notifications, or in-game action, may sound like a feature that doesn’t vary much between phones, but that’s not the case at all. The tactility changes depending on what the phone is made of, the type of motor used, and the way it’s tuned by the company. OnePlus has always been good at haptics, but the OnePlus 9 Pro represents not just the company’s best, but possibly the best on any phone at the moment. What makes it so good on the OnePlus 9 Pro is how subtle it is, and how it has been integrated into the software to increase tactility in all the right places. There’s the slightest of taps when you unlock the phone with the fingerprint sensor, and tiny nudges when you type away on the keyboard and when you use the slider on the side of the phone. It’s not ever-present, sensibly correlates to features that benefit from feeling more physical, never feels buzzy or cheap, and ends up making the OnePlus 9 Pro feel all the more luxurious for it. When I first reviewed the OnePlus 9 Pro, the battery life was adequate, but nothing more. Since then, software updates have improved the phone’s efficiency. Throughout this last week with the phone, the battery has lasted two days before it needs a recharge, provided I didn’t go overboard on gaming. Playing only about 30 minutes of Asphalt 9: Legends could drain the battery by 10%, so do that a few times and it won’t last much more than a full day. While the OnePlus 9 Pro doesn’t have the best battery life of the current Android flagships available, I’m highlighting it here because it’s better than it was when I first reviewed the phone. It’s one of two complaints I made about the phone that have been improved through software updates, and OnePlus should be applauded for doing so. It sounds like something that should happen anyway, but that’s not always the case. This is the other annoyance OnePlus has obviously fixed with a software update. When I initially reviewed the OnePlus 9 Pro, the edges of the screen were overly sensitive to touch, resulting in apps being opened accidentally, words being typed badly, and other irritations. I have not encountered any of these problems this time around. My OnePlus 9 Pro has OxygenOS version 11.2.7.7. LE15BA installed, which does also list “reduced power consumption in specific scenarios” as one of the changes. I usually charge my phone overnight, which I imagine most other people do, too. I don’t with the OnePlus 9 Pro though, due to the incredibly fast Warp Charge 65T wired fast charger included in the box. It takes about 30 minutes to a full recharge, and this speed and resulting convenience is truly transformative. The speed means I just plug it in when I’m sitting down and not really using my phone for a while. For me, it’s usually when I’m having lunch. The charger stays on the kitchen counter, I plug it in, and it’s fully charged by the time I’m done. Instead of leaving the phone plugged in overnight, I turn it off. It’s better for the battery, less wasteful when it comes to power, and pressing the “power off” button when I go to bed is a mentally positive thing to do. If you haven’t used a OnePlus phone before, you may not know about the Alert Slider. It’s a physical slide button on the side of the phone that changes the status between Silent, Vibrate, and Ring. It has been on OnePlus phones since the very beginning and I consider it part of the brand’s DNA, which is why I dislike it not being included on models like the OnePlus Nord CE 5G. Like the fast charging, you don’t really get the convenience of the feature until you actually use it. I need the phone to audibly ring more often these days, due to spending more time at home and the phone sometimes being in a different room, rather than always in my pocket or hand. Quickly activating the Ring mode is a real benefit, as is switching it back to Vibrate later on, especially now that Android volume controls have become more complicated and annoying to use. Apart from the convenience, feeling the textured slider under your thumb and absentmindedly sliding it up and down is the phone equivalent of rapidly pressing the top of a pen. It’s such a satisfying motion, especially paired to the great haptics. OnePlus has continued to do great work improving the camera on the OnePlus 9 Pro, and although some issues persist, it still manages to make me eager for the next phases of its partnership with Hasselblad. The 9 Pro’s camera can take fabulous photos, and on the right day can even outperform the iPhone 12 Pro and the Oppo Find X3 Pro. But on other days, it just can’t seem to get it exactly right. This inconsistency is frustrating, and is the primary area OnePlus and Hasselblad need to work together on improving. At the moment, I don’t always have confidence in the OnePlus 9 Pro, and in the back of my mind wonder if it’ll take a great photo or an average one, or sometimes a really bad one. This happens with close-ups mostly, where the camera’s focal length sees the macro mode kick in when it probably shouldn’t, lowering quality and usually requiring you to force it to focus on a specific area. But the zoom mode and the wide-angle are also problematic. Don’t leave the shutter sound on either, because it seems to slow the camera down slightly. As OnePlus and Hasselblad’s partnership deepens, I’m hopeful it can bring greater consistency across all the cameras, and make it more pleasurable to use in more situations. When the OnePlus 9 Pro gets it right, you can really see its potential, and I’m very hopeful the pair can really exploit that for the next model in the range. The OnePlus 9 Pro costs $1,069 if you choose the 12GB/256GB model, which seems to be the only one available through OnePlus or Amazon at the time of writing. It’s still a recommended phone, but it’s always worth keeping watch to see if the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can be found for less, as it remains our top Android phone choice.

 

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0.0
What we can learn from Google’s cookie deprecation delay

Google threw more speed bumps at the digital media industry Thursday by announcing it would delay its deadline for third-party cookie deprecation by nearly two years. While the impact will be felt far and wide, it highlights an overall lack of readiness — by Google and the industry alike — and the need for a cookieless future that benefits consumers, advertisers, and publishers. We know now that it was an overreach for Google to assume it could independently solve an issue that has stymied ad tech’s major players. That is a lesson for Google. For the industry, there’s a lesson and an opportunity for businesses to take greater control of their own identity and consumer engagement strategies. This is a chance to collaborate, and to design the future of identity together. Google explained why its initial plans to dial down third-party cookie use in early 2022 had to be pushed to late 2023. It seems that its own new identity solution, FLoC, won’t be ready by the end of this year. FLoC has had its share of critics already, including ad tech companies that accuse Google of trying to gin up broad industry reliance on FLoC as a quick identity fix, and privacy advocates who argue that FLoC is no better than third-party cookies when it comes to data privacy. Further, FLoC has been delayed internationally due to regulation challenges like those presented by GDPR. From the outside, one could easily get the impression Google was aiming to consolidate its market influence by disrupting the tools the market relies on. Its announcement said the “web community” needed more time. Let’s hope that’s not lip service and that this time Google wants to listen to the community. Building a framework for the next phase of identity was always going to be a challenge, and Google isn’t the only player in this game. New changes from Apple and Firefox, among others, have served as a catalyst. As an industry, we need to put consumers back in the center of our equations and create solutions that meet their needs, while driving meaningful connections and ROI. It can be done. Google’s delay should be taken as an opportunity to test, learn, and put consumers first. The future of identity lies in the ability to leverage direct, consumer-consented sources and to be smarter about signals that are not attached to a consumer’s identity. Without that, we are playing the same game we have been playing for years. We will be plagued by the same regulatory issues and consumer concerns. Our industry needs to be able to build a scalable, consent-driven, first-party consumer base and solutions that provide for meaningful connections without the need for identity. That is the way to drive relevant, meaningful connections and to create a clearer value exchange. This delay gives publishers and demand partners the chance to co-author more of the future rather than penning quick reactions. And the companies that are truly consumer-first now have the mainstage. Those who are reliant on third-party IDs, however, are simply in a two-year extension to figure out what to do. Chrommegeddon or not, ID-less inventory exists today, making the status quo of planning, targeting, buying, and measuring more challenging. As solutions are developed to address that inventory, advertisers and publishers have an opportunity to continue to connect with consumers, but to also extend their reach and growth well before 2023. Industry stakeholders should move quickly to look at existing cookieless solutions and test their effectiveness. We can’t wait for 2023 to get our ducks in a row. Cookies are an archaic technology, the internet’s horse-drawn carriage, and future internet standards shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of one company. Those of us in the digital-advertising community extend our help to Google — let’s design the future together. Iván Markman is Chief Business Officer at Verizon Media.

 

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0.4
Intel quietly delays next generation 'Sapphire Rapids' Xeon processors

In a new post about its upcoming Xeon Scalable processor, code-named Sapphire Rapids, Intel let slip that it is pushing production to 2022. Sapphire Rapids CPUs are designed for data centers and based on the refined 10 nanometer process, called 10nm Enhanced SuperFin (10ESF). “Given the breadth of enhancements in Sapphire Rapids, we are incorporating additional validation time prior to the production release, which will streamline the deployment process for our customers and partners," wrote Lisa Spelman, Corporate Vice President, General Manager of the Xeon and Memory Group, in a blog post . "Based on this, we now expect Sapphire Rapids to be in production in the first quarter of 2022, with ramp beginning in the second quarter of 2022." While Spelman pins the delay on “incorporating additional validation time”, AnandTech believes a lack of adequate fabrication facilities could be responsible. There’s also the ongoing chip crunch, which has already backed up production lines around the world. In the build up to the news of the delay, Spelman shared more details about Sapphire Rapids. Digesting the details, The Next Platform reports the Sapphire Rapids chip is based on the “Golden Cove'' core, which has a new microarchitecture that includes two new accelerators. It theorizes that one of these, dubbed Advanced Matrix Extensions (AMX), is designed to better handle machine learning inference and training workloads. The other accelerator, called Data Streaming Accelerator (DSA), which Spelman said has been added at the request of specific hyperscale customers, will reportedly help with all kinds of high-performance workloads.

 

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0.4
iOS 15: How to use the radically new Safari browser

Every new version of iOS introduces some new interface elements. The App Library and Widgets added in iOS 14 were a huge change to the home screen, for example. But those can be entirely avoided if you want. Most of the interface changes to iOS are like that—if you want to keep on using your iPhone and apps the way you’re used to, you often can. Forced changes tend to be relatively minor or unobtrusive. That’s not the case with the changes coming to Safari in iOS 15. It’s essentially a completely new browser, and it hits you in the face with its dramatic interface changes from the first moment you use it. It can be more than a little disorienting after years of a mobile Safari experience that has only become more comfortable with age, like a well-worn T-shirt. This guide will help you untangle the major new changes to Safari so you can get back to browsing with confidence. The very first thing you’ll notice when you open Safari on iOS 15 is that the address bar is no longer at the top of the screen. There’s now a unified “tab bar” at the bottom of the screen, floating a bit above the bottom edge. It shows the site you’re on (but not the entire URL), followed by a “more” menu (a circle with three dots in it) and a Tab button. This address bar will have back/next buttons on the left if it’s not the first page you’ve been to. As the page loads, this tab bar will slide down to the bottom of the screen, making more room for the website itself. It also fades to the bottom when you scroll down the page, but reappears as you scroll up. IDG To stop it from fading away on its own, open Settings > Safari and toggle Auto-minimize Tab Bar. Then it will only minimize when you scroll down the page. IDG There’s no reload button the tab bar anymore, either. You can reload by going to the top of the page and pulling it down, or tap the (…) button and then Reload. The (…) button is where you’ll find all your other activities like sharing, reader mode, adding to your Read Later list, adjusting text size, adding bookmarks, and more. IDG The way tabs work has changed, too. Gone is the “flipbook” of tabs, replaced by a new swipe gesture and tab grid. Swipe left or right on the tab bar to quickly hop back and forth between open tabs. It’s a really handy gesture, but it takes a little getting used to; swipe too far toward the bottom edge and you’ll jump back and forth between apps. Apple made moving between tabs in Safari just like moving between apps on your iPhone, but they’re pretty close to each other on the screen. When you open a new Safari tab, you first see the start page. It’s a lot like the one in Safari today, with your Favorites at the top, a privacy report, your reading list, and a quick way to open a tab you’ve got open on your Mac or iPad. But there’s a big change: a huge Shared with You section beneath your Favorites that shows recent links sent to you in Messages. IDG It’s a handy way to quickly get to a site you know someone sent you in a text, without having to first open Messages, find the conversation, and scroll back to find the link. If you don’t like this section (or any other), tapping the Edit button at the bottom of the start page will let you enable or disable the various sections or reorder them. You can see all your open tabs in the current tab group by tapping the Tabs button on the right edge of the tab bar or swiping up on the tab bar. All the open tabs are displayed in a grid, and you can close any tab by tapping the little (x) icon in the upper right. Tap-and-hold on a tab in the grid and you will see a menu of additional tab management options. You can drag tabs around to reorder them when in this state. IDG At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the address bar has been replaced by a tab bar with a new tab button, the name of the current tab group (if any), or the number of tabs (if you’re not in a tab group), and the Done button. Tap that menu to get the Tab Groups menu, which lets you hop over to Private tabs, or any of your existing tab groups (even if you made them on your Mac or iPad), or create new tab groups. IDG Tab groups is one of those features that most users may not even realize is there at first, but it can be a powerful tool to organize your browsing habits. You can have one group of all your favorite news and weather sites, another for tech sites, one for shopping, or make tab groups for specific projects you’re working on. Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

 

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0.0
The Forever Purge is a solid thriller until it falls into the tropes it’s mocking

There’s nothing more American than a Purge movie. At this point in the franchise — five films and a two-season TV series deep — Purge stories are run with a swagger that leans into that sentiment, as each installment widens the scope of a world where the United States government has sanctioned one annual night where all crime is legal. That twisted holiday has also led to unprecedented economic growth and a nearly nonexistent crime rate. Every new Purge film furthers the idea that American patriotism isn’t about all the nice things citizens say they value 364 days a year, but about the sins committed on Purge night. The Forever Purge, the latest film in the franchise, is the logical endpoint of that idea, an action-thriller where the whole thing finally falls apart. Unfortunately, it’s also where the franchise’s shaky grasp on social commentary also starts to falter.

 

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0.2
Life Under Antarctica Is Surviving on Pulverized Rock

You might not expect Lake Whillans to be a cradle for life, as it’s freezing cold and lies beneath 2,500 feet of Antarctic ice. But as a team of glaciologists recently reported, it is precisely those conditions that nurture microscopic organisms, which feast on the rock beneath the continent. The 23-square-mile body of water was discovered from space in 2007 and has since become one of the primary resources for glaciologists and biologists eager to understand the ecosystems below Antarctica. These ecosystems are interconnected rivers and lakes that sit under the ice, filled with extremophiles that jive with the cold and pitch- black water. In s ubglacial Lake Whillans, the locals are mostly bacteria and archaea —not entirely surprising, given the harshness of the conditions. But how do the organisms get by without sunlight or much in the way of food? As the recent team of researchers report in Nature Earth & Environment, pulverized bedrock releases a bevy of compounds that make a healthy diet for such microbes. “Although the study focused on samples obtained from a single subglacial lake, the results could have much wider implications,” said Beatriz Gill Olivas, lead author of the paper and a glaciologist at the University of Bristol in England, in a university press release . “Subglacial Lake Whillans is part of a large interconnected hydrological system, so erosion taking place upstream could represent a potential source of biologically important compounds to this and other lakes within the system that might harbor thriving communities of microbial life.” The organisms in Lake Whillans weren’t just eking out existence; previous research showed they had an abundance of nutrients to sift through, so much so that the lake provided 54 times the amount of carbon necessary to sustain life in an adjacent water body. Without any sunlight to speak of, previous teams suggested, the nutrients—namely nitrogen, iron, sulfur, and carbon compounds—could be derived from the lake sediments. For want of a subglacial mortar and pestle, the team extracted sediment cores from the lakebed using a borer and ground them up in a lab environment, hoping to induce the sediments into the same sort of chemical reactions they engage in under Antarctica. They crushed the sediments and soaked them in frigid, anoxic water. Gill Olivas’s team found that the sediments could provide 25% of the methane required by microbes that rely on the compound, as well as ammonium, from which many organisms in the water could extract energy. In fact, a single hefty crushing event could supply 120% of the needed amount of ammonium, they said. The crushing sessions also turned up carbon dioxide and hydrogen, the latter of which is an essential part of the microbial diet. The implications aren’t merely terrestrial (erm, marine). The water under Antarctica is a welcome proxy for planetary scientists hoping to unpack the mysteries of icy moons like Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus, which may have oceans beneath their icy crusts where similar compounds could exist. More: Scientists Found Unexplained Life Half a Mile Under an Antarctic Ice Shelf

 

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Grounded Shroom and Doom update patch notes

The Shroom and Doom update to Grounded is finally crawling its way out to players. Given its release just earlier today, many players are wondering what’s new in the latest patch. That’s why we’ve got the full list of Grounded’s Shroom and Doom update patch notes featured below. The Shroom and Doom update is actually very straightforward: The title essentially says it all. Shrooms are for the new Mushroom building blocks, which players can use to customize their home bases and structures. Doom, on the other hand, refers to the horrifying new gigantic spider boss. We won’t post a photo of the menace here, because that would probably be mean. Suffice to say, it’s scary. Thankfully, you can still use the game’s arachnophobia safe mode to quell its visual terror. Plus, there’s a new weapon — The Arc. R Crossbow — you can use to take it out. Beyond all that, the developers have added pets ready for petting,20 new Achievements for explorers to earn, and even the ability to sit down. Fans asked, and Obsidian delivered. Here are the complete Grounded Shroom and Doom update patch notes as provided by Obsidian Entertainment. Creatures Pets (Phase 1) Weapons Buildings Building Flipping Building Wall Replacement System New Production Buildings Mushroom Garden Update New Tier of Base Buildings (Mushroom Brick, Crow Feathers) New Building Type: Pillars Sitting in Chairs Yes… you read that correctly. Achievements 20 Achievements have been added to the game (for all platforms). These are an initial set and more will be added as the game continues to grow. We are currently working on the functionality to make them unlock if you have previously completed the task, but there is a chance this may not be possible. Certain achievements for completing tasks such as “kill a wolf spider” or “craft an item” will need to be completed again to unlock. NOTE: Achievements will only be available for testing on the Steam version of the game. All other platforms will receive the achievements when 0.10 releases on June 30th. Photo Mode Mutations Music UI Systems Combat Interface World Buildings Crafting Optimization Other Top Community Fixes World Items/Equipment/Resources Creatures Audio Ominent Practical Technologies

 

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Robinhood to Pay $70 Million Fine for Harming 'Millions of Consumers'

(Photo Illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Robinhood has agreed to pay a record $70 million regulatory fine for allegedly harming millions of US consumers through misleading and shoddy practices. The penalty comes from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which helps oversee the US brokerage industry alongside the SEC. On Wednesday, the regulator announced the fine, which also involves Robinhood paying $12.6 million in restitution to affected consumers. “The sanctions represent the largest financial penalty ever ordered by FINRA and reflect the scope and seriousness of the violations,” the regulator said. FINRA imposed the fine after launching an investigation that covers the company’s activities from 2016 and the period during the meme stock craze, which drove traffic to the Robinhood app this past January. The investigation cites numerous instances of Robinhood misleading users through various functions and buying processes on the app. For example, whether customers could place trades on margin, how much cash was in customers’ accounts, and how much buying power they had. The company also allegedly failed to prevent service outages, including a major one in March 2020, that temporarily stopped trades from going through. “From January 2018 to February 2021, Robinhood failed to reasonably supervise the operation and maintenance of its technology,” the regulator wrote. According to the investigation, Robinhood also never sent FINRA “tens of thousands of customer complaints” that it was required to report. “Compliance with these rules is not optional and cannot be sacrificed for the sake of innovation or a willingness to ‘break things’ and fix them later,” said FINRA’s head of department enforcement Jessica Hopper in a statement. A snippet from the settlement document. (Credit: FINRA) In addition, FINRA investigated the death of former Robinhood user Alex Kearns, who died by suicide believing he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars after making a risky stock bet. FINRA found the app had displayed inaccurate negative cash balances to Kearns and other users. “As part of this settlement, Robinhood is required to pay more than $7 million in restitution to these customers,” the regulator said. Overall, the report portrays Robinhood as a negligent financial company riddled with dysfunction. But according to FINRA, the company agreed to pay the fine as a settlement, which means Robinhood “neither admitted nor denied the charges.” The app currently has over 31 million users, FINRA adds. In response to the penalty, Robinhood said it’s been investing heavily in “improving platform stability, enhancing our educational resources, and building out our customer support and legal and compliance teams.” “We are glad to put this matter behind us and look forward to continuing to focus on our customers and democratizing finance for all,” the company added. On the same day, Robinhood also published a blog post going over its efforts to improve the app and customer support.

 

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Epson DS-530 II Color Duplex Document Scanner

Near the lower end of Epson’s packed stable of business-ready document scanners is the DS-530 II Color Duplex Document Scanner ($399), a replacement for 2016’s DS-530. The hardware is about the same—including the limited connectivity options—but the optical character recognition (OCR) accuracy is much improved, as are the bundled utilities. The DS-530 II is a capable little scanner, but our current entry-level Editors’ Choice pick, the Brother ADS-2700W, is more robust in several ways, and will be a better buy for most shoppers. Petite and Basic Measuring 6.9 by 11.6 by 6.6 inches (HWD) with its trays closed and weighing about 8 pounds, the DS-530 II is small and robust. As with most models in this category, the top cover opens to turn into an input tray, and the output tray slides out from the front, adding several inches to the scanner’s height and depth. Opening the scanner’s input and output trays extends its dimensions significantly. These numbers are about average for an entry-level sheetfed document scanner. A few other lower-end Epson models use the same chassis, including the RapidReceipt RR-600W, and Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX1600 and Brother’s ADS-2700W are of similar size. A 50-sheet ADF sends one- and two-sided documents of various shapes and sizes to the scanner. A single-pass 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) sends one-and two-sided pages to the DS-530 II. All its close competitors come with 50-sheet ADFs, except the iX1600, which has a 100-sheet feeder. Supported paper sizes run from 2 by 2 inches to 8.5 by 240 inches (24 feet). IDs and card-size documents use the same ADF. You can easily scan IDs and other cards by adjusting the ADF guide width. The DS-530 II’s onboard controls comprise a handful of buttons (Start, Pause, Cancel, and the like), augmented by a few status LEDs. You can start a scan job with these controls or from the bundled software interface, which we’ll get to in a moment. The only way to connect to the DS-530 II is with USB 3.0; it has no networking capability or mobile connectivity. The daily duty cycle is 4,000 scans. The Epson RR-600W’s daily duty cycle is also 4,000 scans, while the ADS-2700W’s is a mere 3,000 scans. Fujitsu’s iX1600 is rated at 6,000 scans per day. One Connection at a Time USB 3.0 is plenty fast, but its restrictions limit the scanner's use to a single workstation. However, you can use the bundled software to set up profiles for scanning to network drives and cloud drives that multiple other computers can access. The software includes Epson Scan 2, a robust scanner interface; Epson Document Capture Pro; and TWAIN and ISIS drivers for scanning into third-party apps. Epson Scan 2 includes Full-Auto, Home, and Professional modes, so novice users can scan easily and more expert ones can tweak quality and other settings as needed. Document Capture Pro, a document management and archiving program, lets you create workflow profiles that control file resolution, file type, file destination, and more. Unfortunately, there's no included software for managing contact data scanned from business cards. Entry-Level Speed, State-of-the-Art Accuracy Epson rates the DS-530 II at 35 one-sided pages per minute (ppm) or 70 two-sided images per minute (or ipm, where each page side is considered an image). I tested it over USB 3.0 from our Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Pro. The DS-530 II scanned our one-sided 25-page test document at the rate of 37.3ppm and our two-sided pages at 69.8ipm. Compared to the other models discussed here, the DS-530 II’s scores are a bit on the low side. For the next test, I clocked the DS-530 II as it scanned and converted our two-sided 25-sheet test document to searchable PDF. It scanned the entire document, converted it to text format, and saved it as a searchable PDF in 48 seconds. Here again, this is a few seconds slower than some of the other machines discussed here. Of course, accuracy matters as much as speed. OCR technology has matured to the extent that most scanners can convert scanned text to searchable text with few errors, but the DS-510 II does notably well, scanning our standard Arial font page error-free down to 4 points and our standard Times New Roman page error-free down to 5 points. You're unlikely to ever need to scan text that small. A High Price for a Limited Device There’s no shortage of good entry-level document scanners, and the Epson DS-530 II is among them. It scans a little slowly but with terrific accuracy, and it’s covered by a three-year warranty. Its biggest flaw is that it costs $400. That's the same list price as the Editors’ Choice–winning Brother ADS-2700W, which has many more features—including networking capabilities—and can often be found at a discount. If all you need is to scan documents and business cards to a single computer, the DS-530 II will do the job, but it won't give you the most bang for your buck.

 

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0.7
5 lines of code allowed attackers to wipe tons of data from popular hard drive

Western Digital My Book Live was hit with an attack last week that led to countless drives being factory reset, resulting in petabytes of lost data. Originally, reports showed that the main attack exploited a security vulnerability from 2018, and although that is still one of the attack vectors, there was another one at play. And it came down to only five lines of code. An investigation by Ars Technica revealed that a second exploit was at work in at least some of the affected drives. This second exploit allowed attackers to factory reset the drives remotely without a password. Curiously, the investigation revealed that five lines of code would have protected the reset command with a password, but they were removed from the running code. Even stranger, this vulnerability wasn’t critical to the data loss. The original exploit ( CVE-2018-18472) allowed attackers to gain root access to drives, stealing the data off of them before wiping the drive. This vulnerability was discovered in 2018, but Western Digital ended support for My Book Live in 2015. The security flaw was never fixed. “We have reviewed log files which we have received from affected customers to understand and characterize the attack,” Western Digital wrote in a statement . “Our investigation shows that in some cases, the same attacker exploited both vulnerabilities on the device, as evidenced by the source IP. The first vulnerability was exploited to install a malicious binary on the device, and the second vulnerability was later exploited to reset the device.” These two exploits achieved the same goal but with different means, leading an investigation from security firm Censys to speculate that they were the work of two different groups of hackers. The investigation says it’s possible that an original group of attackers exploited the root access vulnerabilities to loop the drives into a botnet (a network of computers that hackers can draw resources from). However, a possible second group of attackers came in and exploited the password reset vulnerability to lock out the original attackers. The two exploits apply to My Book Live and My Book Live Duo storage devices. These drives give users a few terabytes of network-attached storage, which is why these attacks were able to happen in the first place. Western Digital says anyone with a My Book Live or My Book Live Duo should immediately disconnect the drive from the internet, even if it hasn’t come under attack. Western Digital, a computer hard disk drive manufacturer and data storage company, is offering affected customers data recovery services, which will begin in July. A Western Digital spokesperson told Ars Technica that the services will be free. It is also offering customers a trade-in program to upgrade to a newer My Cloud device, though Western Digital hasn’t said when the program is launching.

 

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51 New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books to Add to Your Reading List in July

It’s hot outside, possibly hot as hell depending on where you live —but one way to keep cool is to plop down in front of a fan or the air conditioner, or perhaps inside a walk-in freezer, and crack open a fresh new sci-fi or fantasy book. We’ve got you covered this month with palace intrigue, space battles, doomsday prophecies, reinvented classics, inter-dimensional serial killers, chatty ghosts, and so much more. Read on! A young sorceress with a magical voice goes on a dangerous undercover mission to stop a corrupt duke from stealing poison—but soon finds herself falling for the duke’s heir, who may not be entirely trustworthy. (July 1) This nonfiction book focuses on the often-overshadowed history of the lunar rover, highlighting “the men who dreamed of driving on the moon and designed and built the vehicle, troubleshot its flaws, and drove it on the moon’s surface.” (July 6) The Simon Snow fantasy trilogy concludes as Simon and his magical friends return home to England and face their futures with uncertainty. (July 6) The Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning author returns with a new collection of short stories. (July 6) The author’s new trilogy is set in her Crown of Shards world and follows a princess who pretends to be materialistic and shallow—but is actually a spy whose undercover mission means she must join forces with a prince from a rival kingdom. (July 6) In a chaotic city reeling from a war between the goblins and the fae, a group of disparate characters (a princess, a drug dealer, an old soldier, and others) find their fates becoming intertwined over a coveted drug that restores fae magic. Read an excerpt here. (July 6) In this new fantasy set in the world of the author’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, an empire on the verge of collapse grasps at its last hope: the perilous task of restoring the magical gates that allow instantaneous travel within its borders. (July 6) The story of Avalon’s Lady of Shalott gets a retelling in this tale, bringing her story to the forefront of the King Arthur legend. (July 6) The latest Wild Cards adventure follows “Aarti, the Moon Maid, who can astrally project herself onto the surface of the moon and paint projections across the lunarscape.” (July 6) This novella digs into the weird and dangerous world of occult puppetry. (July 6) The sequel to Princess Bride homage The Princess Will Save You finds four kingdoms battling for control over the realm of the Sand and Sky—plus an upstart bid by a princess and her true-love stable boy, who may have their own claim to the throne. (July 6) This sequel to Master Assassins finds brothers (and wanted outlaws) Kandri and Mektu navigating a perilous magical desert in order to decipher the cure for a deadly plague. (July 6) Fairy tales and East Asian folklore inspired this tale of a princess who tries to keep her magical powers hidden—until they disrupt her arranged marriage, and her stepmother, a sorceress, compels her into secrecy by turning her brothers into cranes. (July 6) A newspaper reporter in pursuit of a mysterious murder case accidentally follows the killer into another reality—where he kills his victim again in this new dimension. Can she hunt him down before he does it yet again? (July 6) A psychologist aboard a long-haul voyage to a new galaxy befriends the ship’s androids, preferring their company to the humans she’s supposed to be working with. But the dynamics aboard change when the entire crew becomes trapped aboard the ship, and both humans and androids begin to mentally fall apart. (July 6) This novel—set in the 18th century,50 years from now, and 1,000 years from now—takes a look at the devastating effects of climate change over time and is described as “part speculative epic, part tech thriller, part reinvented fairy tale.” (July 13) In a dystopian future society, a 15-year-old boy struggles to overcome his designation as a “Breeder,” someone who’s born into debt they can only overcome if they reproduce. His circumstances take a turn when he meets another teen in the same situation who’s helping plot a revolution. (July 13) A 27-year-old Army veteran awakens one morning to find the world teetering on the edge of doomsday according to a hellish prophecy—and his situation only gets worse when he’s marked by an ancient rune and the people around him start disappearing. (July 13) The epic Song of the Shattered Sands series concludes as a deposed queen raises an elder god whose return signifies certain doom. Will the city dwellers be able to unite with the desert tribes in time to fight off this towering threat? (July 13) The follow-up to The Outside finds the world of Jai thrown into chaos when the laws of physics on its surface suddenly change. The few survivors must fight against the AI gods that arrive in the aftermath to rule—while trying to figure out what’s caused the sudden alteration of their planet. (July 13) This “humorous thriller” pays homage to the ever-popular horror trope of the last girl left standing, introducing a group of characters who bond over their slasher survival stories but then realize they’re all being targeted by a new, very determined killer. (July 13) This novel imagines an America that’s just suffered through a second Civil War, with an aftermath that sees a slave trade being cultivated to aid rebuilding efforts in the part of the country known as “the Homestead Territories of the Disunited States.” One young woman with the power to set things right hopes to secure her escape by winning a race where freedom is the top prize. (July 13) The Fall of the Gods series continues as pirates turned crime-solvers Buc and Eld embrace a new scheme: using boardroom politics to unseat the ruling elite. But will smarts and swordplay be enough for them to succeed—and survive? (July 13) This horror tale follows a woman who’s been blackmailed into becoming her serial-killer sister’s unwitting accomplice—then finds herself being targeted by her sister’s serial-killer rival. (July 13) The Water City sci-fi noir trilogy begins in 2142 as a detective travels to the underwater home of his former boss, a heroic scientist, after she reaches out for help. When he discovers she’s been murdered, he becomes hellbent on solving the crime. Read an excerpt here. (July 13) This new series introduces us to a world where robots become self-aware and forge their own lives in the wilderness—until one day a monk encounters a robot who’s returned to seek the answer to a complicated question: “what do people need?” (July 13) The Rogue Team International series continues as a traumatized Joe Ledger tracks down the people who’ve murdered his loved ones. He soon realizes he’s hunting not just regular soldiers—but mercenaries whose cybernetic and chemical enhancements have transformed them into superhumans. (July 13) This comprehensive oral history of all things Star Wars taps hundreds of insiders—including actors, filmmakers, executives, toy experts, film historians, and more—to explore the franchise from its earliest beginnings to its current era. (July 13) This collection gathers “gender-bent, race-bent, LGBTQIA+ inclusive retellings” of the tales of King Arthur, Camelot, and the Knights of the Round Table, with contributions from Ausma Zehanat Khan, Ken Liu, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Anthony Rapp, Alex Segura, and many more. (July 13) This book’s teen hero is dealing with two very unpleasant situations: he’s tormented by his racist teachers, and he’s a medium forced to help dead people who realize he can see them. Just when romance sparks with a new boy at school, the ghost of a school shooter begins to haunt him with a vengeance. (July 13) This surreal sci-fi tale from the creator of The Great Chameleon War podcast follows a young girl named Robot as she lives through a “dream apocalypse” and bonds with other survivors. (July 13) The Crown of Feathers trilogy concludes as Veronyka, daughter of the last queen of the Golden Empire, must face her estranged sister—who has taken a very dark and powerful path—if she wants to bring peace to the kingdom she’ll eventually rule. (July 13) The creative book description of the month award goes to this one, which is billed as “ Golden Girls meets The Expanse with a side of Babylon Five .” It’s about a private eye, police chief, and a spy who join forces to investigate an assassination that just might be part of a scheme to jump-start an interplanetary war. (July 20) A husband and wife who both suffered traumatic childhoods move back to their rural hometown with their son, where he meets a strange new friend with a magical and sinister connection to the family’s past. (July 20) The Loresmith fantasy series continues as Ara and her friends travel on a journey across the kingdom searching for the Loreknights, whose help they’ll need if they have any hope of securing the rightful ruler’s place on the throne. (July 20) The sequel to The Extraordinaries finds Nick mostly happy with his new superhero boyfriend, though he’s bummed that he himself lacks any superpowers. When Nova City starts seeing new superpowered people arrive, Nick and his friends set out to discover who’s a hero and who’s a villain. (July 20) This novel puts a contemporary spin on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; its heroine is a millennial social media star who’s actually an immortal woman seeking violent revenge against men who harmed her decades ago. (July 20) An exiled sorcerer plots his return by pretending to be an Imperial Cartomancer and recruiting people to help him mine a valuable mineral stash he’s discovered on a mysterious map. He’s just starting to enjoy his false identity when royal bounty hunters track him down. (July 20) The Women’s War feminist fantasy series comes to an end with this entry. Women are finally in power and in control of their reproductive rights, but a bitter former king has turned to dark magic to try and stomp out all of their progress. (July 20) A holy man who spent his life studying ancient texts (and keeping any secrets deemed “heretical”) is pressured by revolutionaries to translate a set of stolen writings. When he realizes his beliefs might be built on falsehoods, he must grapple with his faith and his role in building the future of the world. (July 20) In Garbagetown, a settlement that floats on the surface of a ravaged planet Earth, a girl named Tetley tries to keep her spirits up even when she learns a awful secret. (July 20) Set in the time of Napoléon Bonaparte, this entry in the author’s Shadow Histories series imagines a parallel war between vampires that rages alongside the French Revolution. (July 20) The sequel to Savage Legion returns to the troubled utopian land where “Savages” nabbed from city streets are forced to fight in the empire’s wars—and a rebellion works behind the scenes to try and free them. (July 20) The founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty gets a reimagining in this “bold, queer, and lyrical” fantasy. When a brother and sister are orphaned, the girl assumes his identity to enter a monastery, where she becomes determined to change her fate. (July 20) The Quinary series begins far in the future, when humans have colonized space and families run entire planets. Two prospering clans plan to join forces when their children become engaged, but circumstances shift when the groom-to-be is suddenly sent on a dangerous quest across the galaxy. (July 20) This collection drawn from the past decade brings together speculative fiction by LGBTQ+ authors as well as tales exploring LGBTQ+ themes, from authors including Seanan McGuire, Sam J. Miller, and io9 co-founder Charlie Jane Anders. (July 27) The Serpent & Dove fantasy series ends with this entry, as Lou—a frighteningly darker version of the person her friends remember—returns home after spending most of her life running from her magical past. This follow-up to A Pale Light in the Black finds the crew of Zuma’s Ghost —part of the Coast Guard-like Near-Earth Orbital Guard—dealing with a mysterious new team member while trying to avoid a trade war. (July 27) In this supernatural novel set in the Southwest circa 1976, two brothers who are “rovers”—which sounds a bit like vampires, since they’re immortal, nocturnal, and in need of human blood to survive—become unlikely protectors when they encounter a young woman being targeted by violent bikers. (July 27) In a small town surrounded by a thick forest, a young woman has grown up hearing stories about monsters lurking in the woods. Her idyllic (if isolated) world turns upside down when the creatures show themselves, offering to grant favors... but at what price? (July 27) This anthology is described as a “major retrospective collection of shorter work,” with over 20 stories gathered from the acclaimed author’s decades-spanning career. (July 31) Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here .

 

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0.4
The Best Bluetooth Trackers for 2021

Unless you’re very organized, there’s a good chance you’ve misplaced something in the past month. Maybe your remote was swallowed by the couch cushions, or perhaps a feisty pet swiped your keys off the counter and batted them under the couch, or you left your umbrella in a coffee shop. No matter what you're prone to losing, a Bluetooth tracker is a quick and inexpensive way to make sure you can find it again. Tile is the most established brand in the Bluetooth tracker market and has the most diverse selection of products. Apple and Samsung are relative newcomers, but the Apple AirTag and Samsung Galaxy SmartTag have special features that work well within their respective ecosystems. Every Bluetooth tracker serves the same general purpose—to help you locate lost items—but the specifics vary widely, so you need to do your research before you make a purchase. We're here to help with buying advice and the top-rated trackers we've tested. How to Choose a Bluetooth Tracker Smartphone compatibility tops the list of things to consider when choosing a Bluetooth tracker. Tile is the only company on our list that sells trackers that work with both Android and iOS. Apple’s AirTag will technically work with any device capable of running iOS/iPadOS 14.5 or later, but you need an iPhone 11 or an iPhone 12 to use its Precision Finding feature. Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag only works with Samsung Galaxy phones that are running Android 10 or later and have the SmartThings Find app installed. From left to right: Apple AirTag, Samsung Galaxy SmartTag, Tile Pro. Location accuracy is the next question. All the trackers on our list are relatively accurate, but the AirTag takes the win here thanks to its ultra-wideband connectivity. If you’re using an iPhone 11 or an iPhone 12, Precision Finding gives you turn-by-turn directions to your lost item. The SmartTag and all of Tile’s trackers have proximity indicators, but they lack Precision Finding's exactitude and ease of use. Maximum range is another important consideration. Some Bluetooth trackers claim they’ll connect with your smartphone from distances of up to 400 feet, but all the trackers we tested had a maximum range of less than 100 feet. If you’re using a Bluetooth tracker on items that tend to stay in one area, like a TV remote that's probably somewhere in your living room, the maximum range doesn't matter much, but it's important if you plan to use the tracker on your keys or bag. A robust locator network can help balance out some of Bluetooth’s technical limitations. All the trackers on our list can be placed in Lost mode, which allows other peoples’ phones to discreetly detect the tracker and inform its manufacturer of its location. Tile has a large user network, but it depends on people downloading its app and properly updating several settings on their phones. (That may change with the advent of Amazon Sidewalk, which will let many Amazon smart devices detect lost Tile trackers.) Apple's massive Find My network uses an app that's baked into iOS, iPadOS, macOs, and watchOS. You’ll also want to take a moment to think about how you plan to use a Bluetooth tracker before you buy one. Some trackers will work better for your individual use case than others. The Samsung SmartTag and Tile Pro have holes that allow you to easily attach them to your keyring. The Tile Sticker has an adhesive mount, and the Tile Slim can easily slide into your wallet. Apple’s AirTag is a standalone product that requires an accessory to mount it. There are several key rings that work with AirTags on Apple’s website, and third-party accessories like Olixar’s Apple AirTags Adhesive Silicone Pockets help you attach them to other objects. Child and Pet Tracking Bluetooth trackers are great tools for finding lost objects. They’re not so great for locating people or animals. The Jiobit and T-Mobile's SyncUP are LTE-enabled trackers that are much better suited for keeping tabs on young ones. The Fi is an LTE-enabled collar that sends updates of your pet’s location several times a minute. All of these devices are backups to adult supervision, however, since they can easily be removed or wiggled out of. Not only are Bluetooth trackers not useful for tracking young children, the ones with small removable batteries can present a choking hazard. To be on the safe side, keep your trackers out of the reach of toddlers and pets. Staying Safe While Using Bluetooth Trackers Bluetooth trackers join apps, computers, smartphones, tablets, vehicles, and dozens of other tools that can be used for technology-facilitated stalking. They aren't very accurate or consistently findable, but they’re small enough to slide into a bag, affordable, and readily available. Apple improved its anti-stalking features shortly after the AirTag was announced, and it plans to release an app for Android users later this year that will alert them if an unknown AirTag is close to their smartphone. Samsung added additional anti-stalking features as well, but the update unfortunately requires you manually scan for its SmartTags. Tile has yet to announce any anti-stalking features for its lineup. Although it’s difficult to completely evade the risk of technology-facilitated stalking with Bluetooth trackers, our Tile Pro review has some basic tips. The National Centers for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center also has a wealth of information that can help you stay safe. Finding Your Lost Items Just Got a Little Less Stressful Bluetooth trackers aren't perfect, but they can still be a big help if you're forgetful. With a little patience (and working batteries), trackers greatly increase the likelihood you’ll actually locate that lost backpack or remote. And for more on getting the most out of your AirTags, read our top AirTag tips.

 

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0.6
Should I buy a Chromebook?

Should I buy a Chromebook? Many have asked this question, wondering if these devices are just the affordable yet capable portable they’ve long been looking for. That’s because while Chromebooks have been around for some time now, their pioneers hitting the shelves back in 2011, they haven’t quite hit mainstream success until recent years. That means that there’s still a lot of laptop users out there who don't know anything about them besides their existence. So, what exactly is a Chromebook? In essence, Chromebooks are laptops that run on this lightweight operating system called ChromeOS, which is a lot less demanding than Windows 10 or the latest macOS and mostly relies on the Chrome browser – and therefore, internet connectivity – to perform tasks. Not that this operating system’s reliance on the Chrome browser renders any Chromebook useless without the internet, however. It has expanded its capabilities over time to support apps so you can tackle productivity-related and creative tasks, as well as play games and consume media, while offline. Chromebooks may be more powerful now than before, but they are still intended to help you with lightweight tasks like word processing, browsing the internet, streaming videos, and playing mobile games – perhaps even some light photo editing every now and then. So, to answer your “should I buy a Chromebook?” question, it ultimately depends on what you need from your portable. Chromebooks are excellent traditional laptop replacements if you don’t require sheer power and if your daily computing needs don't include using processor-hungry apps or specific software unavailable in the Chrome OS. Much like traditional laptops, not all Chromebooks boast the same features, capabilities, and price tags. Some are more powerful than others, a handful are more feature rich than the rest, and a small number even come with a premium price tag. These days, there are Chromebooks that will set you back $1,000/£1,000/AU$1,300, even though they still won’t be able to run software from outside the Google Play and Google Chrome Stores. They just have higher specs and more premium builds. Some Google Chromebooks, like the Google Pixelbook, will set you back even more. Still, most Chromebooks are either cheap, making them excellent for students, or at least reasonably-priced at the very least. Feature-wise, there areChromebooks that come loaded with them like touchscreen, a 2-in-1 form factor, and the ability to expand your storage. Meanwhile, some lower-end ones come with only the most basic features. The key difference between Chromebooks and other laptops is the operating system. These laptops come with Google Chrome OS installed instead of the traditional Windows or macOS. ChromeOS is rather like a mobile phone operating system and can only run apps from the Chrome Web Store or the Google Play Store. That’s on top of heavily utilizing the Chrome browser for most tasks. Although that sounds a tad restrictive, you’ll be happy to know that there are thousands of apps to choose from and all the basics are covered. For text documents, spreadsheets and presentations you have Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. For movies and TV, apps like Google Play Movies, Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video are on hand. There are even apps for quick photo editing including Adobe Photoshop Express. However, Chromebooks work best when connected to the internet. Chrome OS will update silently in the background when you’re online, and your documents sync to your Google account so you can access them anywhere. But, thanks to these apps, you can now use Chromebooks while offline. Of course, if you require specialist software for your everyday tasks, then a Chromebook might be a little underpowered for you. Photographers or designers who rely on the full version of Photoshop should still go for a MacBook or Windows laptop and serious gamers should still stick with a gaming laptop. There are two types of Chromebook: traditional laptops and two-in-one devices that effortlessly turn into tablet-like computers. Many Chromebooks have touchscreens, but those that don’t won’t work as well with apps downloaded from the Google Play Store, since those apps are designed chiefly for mobile devices. Chrome OS can run on less powerful hardware than Windows 10 or macOS, which means Chromebooks are often more affordable than other laptops. For example, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is a great Chromebook that comes in at under $250/£200/AU$300 – ideal for a student budget. Just remember that often, the cheaper the Chromebook is, the less storage space it’ll have – typically 32GB or 64GB. If you’re using Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for your work, this won’t be an issue as all your documents will be saved to the cloud rather than your device. It’s also not a problem if you’re streaming video and TV shows. However, if you plan on keeping large files on your device like photos and videos, you’ll need to add an SD card. Luckily, most Chromebooks have a slot for one. And, if you’re looking for one that doesn’t have an SD card slot, you can always invest in an external HDD or a portable SSD. There are also some premium Chromebooks with more storage, like the Google Pixelbook, if you have the budget for it. Just bear in mind that for that same price, you could get a Windows 10 laptop with equally good specifications. Finally, there are limitations to the peripherals you can connect to a Chromebook. You can connect a printer, keyboard, mouse or even monitor as long as that accessory doesn’t require its own driver or software to work. Luckily, most peripherals these days are plug and play, and only really utilize their accompanying software for customizations.

 

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0.7
Airbnb's Flexible Destinations feature is now live

Airbnb has announced the global release of its new feature, Flexible Destinations, which gives its users a fresh browsing and booking experience. Now, users will be able to find unique places to stay when they click on "I'm Flexible". This option will provide unique listing categories ranging from private islands, cabins, and domes, to tiny homes, treehouses, and boats. It will also enable users to book a trip to a unique location by seeing the search results displayed on a map and searching with flexible dates. Compared to 2019, unique home searches have augmented by 94% in 2021, and searches for specific unique locations have increased by ten times as compared to the past two years. Specific searches for Tiny homes, houseboats, farm stays, barns, earth houses, huts, islands, and yurts have increased by 791%,1,015%,1,055%,1,068%,1,285%,1,379%,1,668%, and 1,701% respectively. The announcement from Airbnb mentioned that: Airbnb users get the option of choosing from among 170,000 unique properties listed in the app. This feature will also play a pivotal role in spreading travel with a wide array of unique properties that are located outside of famous tourist spots.

 

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0.0
You'll be able to find a cheaper RTX 3080 soon, but you shouldn't buy one yet - here's why

Cryptominers in China appear to be selling off graphics cards in bulk, a strong indication that the cryptocurrency bust might lead to gamers more easily being able to actually buy a GPU for their gaming PC. According to Hong Kong news outlet HKEPC Hardware, internal conversations among cryptomining groups posted to a popular Taiwanese bulletin board PTT show large quantities of everything from Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 and AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT cards to Nvidia GTX 1066s and AMD Radeon RX 478s – which is likely the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and AMD Radeon RX 470, respectively. China's cryptomining crackdown in provinces like Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, and Sichuan, as well as that government's more aggressive stance against cryptocurrency more broadly, have helped crash cryptocurrency prices around the world. China accounts for about 65% of the world's global cryptomining hashrate for major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether. The cards are being sold in bulk at roughly their MSRP price, which would mean that most of these cards are being sold at cost or for less than the miners paid for them. While we always say that you should never buy a new graphics card on resale sites like eBay and StockX, right now would be the absolute worst time to do so. With cryptocurrency prices collapsing from their highs of just a month or two ago, a lot of industrial mining operations are going to be trying to dump their excess hardware for whatever price they can get for it. These are really not the kind of graphics cards you're going to want to buy under any circumstances, as PC Gamer notes, since they may have been used to mine cryptocurrencies for months, running 24/7, stuffed into warehouses at high temperatures. It's one thing to buy a used car, it's another to buy a used car after it's been used to drag race every day for months on end without any maintenance. What's more, all of those mining graphics cards that are about to flood resale sites are going to likely be promoted as "new" graphics cards since no one in their right mind would want to buy an RTX 3090 that's been running at full throttle for almost a year straight to mine Bitcoin and Ether. Cryptominers have plenty of money to spend on cleaning up and packaging used up graphics cards as if they were brand new cards, so no matter what the pictures on a listing look like, you simply can't trust that the card you're buying is actually brand new. Once these cards are sold, trust us, these sellers are going to vanish into the night, so good luck getting your money back. We definitely understand gamers want to finally get their hands on these new graphics cards, really, we do. And no matter how savvy you think you might be at spotting a bad card, you are taking a much bigger risk now than you would have even a month ago. What's more, now's the time to start starving the scalpers online of the demand they need to justify buying up all the legit graphics card stock. They are about to have to compete with a massive surge of cheaper cards, which is going to force them to lower the prices they're charging. If no one buys these cards at even these lower prices, they'll end up losing money on them, which is going to strongly dissuade them from buying up any more cards from legit retailers. We know you've been waiting a long time to get your hands on one of these cards, and it looks like there is going to be a major let-up in these stock shortages. We can't say that everyone who wants one is going to be able to buy one, there are other factors like the broader semiconductor shortage to consider as well, but it's likely to get much easier than it was before to buy a new graphics card. You've waited this long, another month or two is definitely doable to ensure that you're getting something that will actually last.

 

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0.6
This time its real – Windows 11 running on the Lumia 950XL (video)

Last week we incorrectly reported that Windows 11 had been ported to the Lumia 950XL, but the developer of the Windows 10 on the Lumia 950XL project reported that this was just a premature tease, but that a proper solution would not be long away. Today Gustave Monce delivered, posted a video of the venerable Windows 10 Mobile handset winning Windows 11. It did not take too much work to port the OS, according to Monce only a day, and even better, he was able to port the phone stack from Windows 10 Mobile to Windows 11, allowing him to make phone calls. While the move has little practicality, it is notable that Windows 11 appears to be running well on a 2016 handset, when Microsoft will ultimately not let anyone with a 2017 PC update to the OS. via onMSFT

 

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0.1
Four Predictions for Data Intelligence and the Consumer Identity Challenge

The world of data is changing, and changing fast. In the past few years, data privacy has become one of the most talked about topics. In the last decade, as Big Data grew to completely reshape the world of businesses, the focus has now turned to how this data is collected and used. With the explosive rise of social media and ensuing concerns over its influence, people have become increasingly concerned about data privacy. The EU was the first to announce major data privacy regulation policy with the GDPR, followed closely by the CCPA Act by the US. Following this trend, Apple recently announced its App Tracking Transparency Framework (ATT) as part of the iOS14 update, which would require users to consent or opt-in to tracking. Google also has made changes to its policies, with the removal of third-party cookies on Google Chrome. These changes have required brands to re-evaluate marketing strategies and how they reach their audiences. In addition to this, the unprecedented events of the last year with the COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in changed consumer behavior. Traditional brick and mortar brands and retail outlets relying on visitors or foot traffic have been hit hard. Businesses now must deal with a changed world as well as a changing data-landscape. What is the future for data intelligence and how can brands solve the consumer identity change while remaining privacy compliant? In this eWEEK Data Points article, Gladys Kong, CEO of Near Americas, shares the following prediction trends for the future of data intelligence. Data will continue to be the key driver for growth and the organizations that effectively use data to inform business decisions will emerge as the leaders. Brands will have to invest in enriching their existing data and will choose the right partners that are privacy compliant. To ensure they understand their target audiences, brands will have to invest in data that combines both online and offline behavior. Investing in the right data and the right partners will pave the way for brands to increase market share and LTV. Solving the consumer identity challenge is a prerequisite for continued growth. The traditional architecture and identity stack of cookies and device IDs will not be sustainable any longer with the recent updates. Organizations will have to look at ways to adapt to the shift to a decentralized data system. An identifier is important for a single view of the customer which can be used to ensure the right targeting and messaging for effective marketing strategies and superior consumer experiences. Moreover, as companies face an increasingly complex landscape of privacy regulations, they will look to invest in data and partners that can help them overcome this challenge. Noticeable consumer patterns have emerged in the past few months. As restrictions lift, consumers will not go back to pre-covid behavior but adapt to a new normal. The success of an organization will depend on whether they are able to pivot to strategies that are unique to the different types of customers in the post-covid market – the risk takers, the balancers and the risk averse. We see four trends in customer sentiment and behaviors globally. While there are differences by country and region, overall, these trends seem to be common for most. Privacy now could be a new factor that could be a competitive advantage for organizations. Brands with better privacy policies might attract more customers as more than two-thirds of customers believe that privacy practices are related to a company’s trustworthiness. (Clock Tower Insight). A well structured privacy policy could be used to fuel user adoption, revenue growth and even help companies increase market share. On the other hand, unmet expectations and doubts around privacy could create opportunities for competitors. This is one of the reasons Android could follow suit with changes to its policies to ensure users don’t shift to Apple. About the Author Gladys Kong is CEO of Near Americas Contact Us| About| Sitemap Property of TechnologyAdvice. Terms of Service| Privacy Notice| Advertise| California - Do Not Sell My Information © 2021 TechnologyAdvice. All Rights Reserved Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the products that appear on this site are from companies from which TechnologyAdvice receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site including, for example, the order in which they appear. TechnologyAdvice does not include all companies or all types of products available in the marketplace.

 

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0.7
Sharpen & Speed Up Your PC Games: Testing AMD's FSR, Nvidia's DLSS 2.2 & More

In a marketplace where getting a graphics card at a fair price is an exercise in pain management, GPU manufacturers have been coming up with inventive new ways for gamers to get more performance out of the graphics cards they already own. These methods include sharpening filters, AI-assisted image-scaling options, and supersampling tech. That's a lot of jargon; get ready for another burst of it. The five major options available today use some combination of technologies, techniques, and innovative algorithms to, in theory, give you more performance out of almost any current GPU without sacrificing visual quality in the process. They are Nvidia's DLSS and Freestyle; the open-source ReShade plugin; AMD's Radeon Image Sharpening (RIS) software; and AMD's newest approach (launched on June 22), dubbed "FidelityFX Super Resolution" (FSR). But the only way to know which option is the best for you and your setup is to dive into testing and see how these five approaches hold up in quality when they go head-to-head. So check out our complete breakdown of all things image-sharpening, anti-aliasing, and DLSS-ing. This field is constantly evolving, so here's a look at the state of play in the second half of 2021. Which one could be right for you and your hardware? TLDR? Fewer Jagged Edges for Less Money So what are sharpeners, upscalers, and supersamplers, exactly? And how have they evolved since they first hit the scene almost half a decade ago? In a sentence, every feature mentioned here shares the same goal: Get higher frame rates out of your system on the same hardware, without sacrificing visual quality in the process. It's a bold new approach to the major slowdown in Moore's Law. These technologies apply software, AI, and algorithms where increased transistor density just can't pick up the slack like it used to. Before we get into our anecdotal testing results, which show how those efforts are playing out, a quick disclaimer. In the time since the first third-party sharpening tools, such as ReShade, were introduced, Nvidia's DLSS tech, one of the best known, has emerged, then gone through a full revision. (Version 1.0 is now 2.2.) Meanwhile, AMD's Radeon Image Sharpening gained almost all the features I complained were missing in our original breakdown of these technologies a bit more than a year ago. And open-source ReShade (with the FidelityFX CAS sharpening filter) has been integrated right into Nvidia's Freestyle—something I don't think anyone could have seen coming. And then there's AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), which emerged a week ago and was the trigger for this fresh look at these technologies. To help keep track of where everything stands, let's check out a quick primer on what's out there, and who can use it... In our original test run of some of these services last year, AMD's Radeon Image Sharpening walked away with the first-place trophy, clearly beating Freestyle and DLSS 1.0 in both clarity and performance, with the least amount of artifacting in the bunch. At the time, DLSS 1.0 had a quirky problem of smudging lines and making the render look blurrier than it was with the feature off; that's a no-go when it comes to gamers and their graphics settings. As of that writing, AMD had a clear lead over the rest of the sharpening pack in our "eyeballing-it" quality tests (though the relative market share of Radeon GPUs versus GeForce ones is whole another issue). And at least at the time, it didn't look like it would be all that close for the foreseeable future. But things have changed since then, more than most folks could have predicted. So did AMD maintain its sharpening lead, and even extend it, with its launch of FSR? Or has Nvidia made some proper headway in the fight? Let's get into our quality assessments to find out. Eyes-On With Faster Frame Rate Technologies It's time to pit each technology against one another. In some cases, that involved, in essence, "simulated resolutions"—for example, displaying at 4K resolution, but actually rendering the scene at 1440p then upscaling to 4K. I looked at each technology, where relevant, across 4K gaming results that were both natively rendered (that is, at actual 4K), as well as scaled from various resolutions below that. I've assembled a trove of images below (they're hosted in sliders; click the arrows!) that show the same scene in various games (support-dependent), processed by each individual sharpener. We used PC Labs' graphics-card testbed to grab all screenshots. It uses an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition card (or an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, depending on the needs of the test), an Intel Core i9-10900K processor,16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 memory, a solid-state boot drive, and an Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) Z490 motherboard. Because we had to use two different cards (and multiple games) to test these features to their full extent, this won't be so much a "performance" comparison as it is strictly a look at the output image quality of each technology. We chose the game Control to show off what DLSS and the three sharpener technologies can do, while compatibility issues forced us into testing with the titles The Riftbreaker and Godfall for AMD's FSR. (Control does not support FSR.) Control also gives us the most amount of...ahem, er... control, in testing. That is because of the higher level of flexibility it offers when scaling up or down a specific resolution, as well as the intensity of ray-traced light in the scene. AMD Radeon Image Sharpening (RIS): The Broad Approach RIS PROS Best visual-clarity results with the least artifacting Works in any game running on DirectX 9, DX10, DX12, or Vulkan One-toggle setup Works with most recent AMD Radeon cards RIS CONS Not supported by very lowest-end Radeon cards Doesn't work on DirectX 11 Doesn't work with Nvidia-branded GPUs AMD's Radeon Image Sharpening (RIS) came a bit later to the party than both Freestyle and ReShade. (The feature made its public debut with the release of the Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5700 XT in June of 2019.) AMD says that its RIS technology does everything that Nvidia's DLSS can do...though these claims have since been superseded by the marketing around AMD's new-for-2021 FSR. (More about FSR in a bit.) AMD is (rightfully) cautious to call RIS an "anti-aliasing" technology, despite the fact that it was developed by the same person who created both Temporal Anti-Aliasing (TAA) and Fast-Approximate Anti-Aliasing (FXAA). TAA and FXAA are both methods designed to smooth out the jagged roughness that is produced around the edges of objects or characters in 3D video games. In contrast, RIS is a post-processing sharpening filter that is applied at the API layer, and the effect appears only after every part of the image has already been rendered by the GPU. Based out of a larger open-source developer toolkit that AMD calls FidelityFX, RIS is an automatic process that sharpens the image of a game and removes some of the "fuzziness" around the edges of models that can occur at lower resolutions. AMD's RIS dashboard RIS accomplishes this through the use of a technique known as contrast adaptive sharpening (CAS). CAS tells your GPU to look for areas of stark contrast (say, between the outline of your main character and the background of a jungle), and it uses that contrast to inform which areas of the image should be sharpened. The math that makes this all work is extremely complex, but like DLSS, the main idea of RIS is simple: Make games running at lower resolutions look as close to, or just as good as, a resolution tier above it. ( See our hands-on guide to running RIS .) We'll get into how it looks to us in a moment. But first, we should mention that RIS takes the compatibility cake versus DLSS. RIS runs on any game that is based on the DirectX 9, DX10, DX12, or Vulkan APIs, on just about every AMD video card from the last three generations. However, unlike FSR, which is compatible with both Nvidia and AMD GPUs, RIS works only with AMD-branded cards. The parameters of RIS open up the technology to a much, much larger number of titles (numbering in the thousands), with more being added every day as new games debut. RIS: Quality Testing With the Game 'Control' We tested with the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT installed. Note: In this test and all following screenshots of Control, try and look at how the character's hair blends with the American flag on the left for the best indication of how an upscaling technique affects image quality. Enter "Fullscreen mode" to see more detail by clicking the icon in the top right for a full-size image. Just like when we tested RIS the first time, RIS continues to hold up well under scrutiny. With the game rendering at a resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels (downscaled from 4K), I set the image sharpening to the 30% and then 50% levels, using the slider in AMD's Radeon Settings application, and launched into Control... Although the image wasn't as refined or as crisp as a DLSS image rendered at the same resolution, I'd say it was close enough for my purposes. As for an increase in performance, I saw a ratio gain similar to that of DLSS, but still a bit short: a 128% improvement (14 frames per second at native 4K resolution, versus 32fps with RIS enabled). Overall, the number of artifacts remained low both in screenshots and during high-motion action scenes, which was RIS's biggest win over Nvidia's Freestyle the first time we tested these features back in 2019. Has anything changed for Nvidia's sharpening tool this time around? Nvidia Freestyle: The Other Way to Go Green FREESTYLE PROS Works with all Nvidia cards Easy implementation through GeForce Experience Now has integration with Reshade and FidelityFX CAS FREESTYLE CONS Generates more artifacting than RIS Poorest visual results of the sharpeners Compatible with just over 900 games (but anything outside that list won't work) Shortly after AMD announced RIS (we're talking a literal day between press briefings), Nvidia showed off a fresh iteration of its Nvidia Freestyle image-sharpening tool to select journalists at a closed-door event at E3 2019. (Freestyle first rolled out in January of 2018 .) Only part of what Freestyle does is sharpening; it also lets you apply filters to your game to change the overall look. Nvidia hasn't shared much about how the technology behind Freestyle works, stating simply that it's an "image post-processing tool" that sharpens the edges of objects in your games. ( See our guide to running and using Freestyle .) Nvidia's list of compatible titles that work with Freestyle is smaller than AMD's RIS list, but it's not small: around 900 games and growing. That's many more than DLSS can touch, but far fewer than RIS. So how does it stack up in quality? Freestyle: Quality Testing With the Game 'Control' We tested with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition at Ultra settings. The first shot is at native 4K, and the following two are at 1440p with sharpening applied. Reminder: You can enter "Fullscreen mode" by clicking the icon in the top right for a full-detail image. Compared with the last time I tested Freestyle, I'd have to say there hasn't been enough improvement in the technology to warrant recommending it over ReShade or RIS on its own, even with the newer "Sharpen+" filter applied, which integrates ReShade with CAS directly into (It was released as a part of a driver update from Nvidia that was pushed in late June 2021.) Freestyle still introduces a host of artifacts and jagged edges into scenes with lots of action, and although the intensity slider found in the Freestyle filter control panel can help with this, the only point where the artifacts disappear is when you set it around the 15% mark. With the test game Control sharpened to 30% and down-rendered to 1440p, I was able to get a "4K" version of the game running at roughly the same frame-rate gains that I achieved with both RIS and ReShade. During testing, the game peaked at around 40fps in simulated "4K." Remember, though, that quality is a far more important factor in this battle than raw frame-rate performance. A game upscaled from a 1440p render to a 4K image will almost always run as quickly as a game natively rendered at 1440p, regardless of the hardware or any sharpeners applied on top. If the game looks like it's being run at 4K while it's being rendered at 1440p under the hood, that's where the real difference lies. Now that Freestyle supports an integration of ReShade with FidelityFX CAS, however, the results for Freestyle, Radeon Image Sharpening, and ReShade can be said to be just about the same since they're all based on the same underlying CAS algorithm. What's this ReShade we keep mentioning, you ask? Well that's back where this whole thing started... ReShade: The Open-Source Alternative RESHADE PROS Works on all games and with all video cards Visual results were good (if not as good as what we saw with RIS) RESHADE CONS Complicated setup process Must be installed individually for each game you want it to run on The aftermarket, open-source post-processing software ReShade is an outlier, and it's often changing. Since I've been investigating these sharpening tools and upscalers, ReShade added contrast adaptive sharpening—the same "CAS" mentioned, earlier specific to AMD—to its sharpening arsenal. CAS is one algorithm implemented as a part of the larger FidelityFX developer shader toolkit, and it is primarily responsible for helping AMD's RIS determine where the edge of a character in focus ends, and the background of an image begins. Because FidelityFX is open-source, the developers behind ReShade were able to implement CAS into their own software easily. Unlike every other tool on this list, ReShade is API- and GPU-agnostic. If you have the time and the know-how, you can get it to work in the game of your choosing on the hardware you already own. That said, the same thing that makes ReShade work on every game and with every GPU is ultimately its main drawback. Unlike RIS, Freestyle, FSR, or DLSS, which can be activated automatically at the flip of a switch, ReShade involves a somewhat complicated installation process. Not only that, but each game must be configured individually for ReShade, a far cry from the "set it and forget it" ethos of AMD's RIS and FSR, and Nvidia's DLSS and Freestyle. That said, the benefits of universal compatibility outweigh the complexity of setup for really serious tweakers. The ReShade integration of these sharpening tools means they'll work on any game, powered by any card—period—that you're willing to put in the effort with. It also bears repeating that Nvidia's Freestyle now comes with ReShade with CAS integration, so the two should be considered one and the same if you're using the "Sharpen+" setting that was just introduced. ReShade lets you choose from values ranging from 0 to 100 on a sharpening intensity scale, just like Nvidia's Freestyle. Tune it just right, and in theory you can create a sharpened 1440p image that looks just as good as native 4K, all while gaining up to 30% in performance. What's not to like? Well...let's see! ReShade: Quality Testing With the Game 'Control' We tested ReShade with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition at Ultra settings. Note: Enter "Fullscreen mode" by clicking the icon in the top right for a full-detail image. To my eye, ReShade was better than Freestyle in these tests, but just slightly under what RIS could do. That makes sense when you consider ReShade, with its CAS integration, is doing more than just flatly sharpening the image (like what's going on in Freestyle). While a sharpener like Freestyle is applying a simple post-processing filter over the image, CAS actually goes in and algorithmically reads the image to see what elements can be sharpened and which can't without leading to artifacts. That said, since ReShade can be integrated into Nvidia's Freestyle menu, if you so choose, it's kind of a moot point comparing the two. The performance gains were nearly identical to the rest of the sharpeners, an increase of 18fps at native 4K to 46fps at 2,560 by 1,440 with a 35% sharpening intensity applied, which in any title, not just Control, is an astounding jump, all things considered. Next up, Nvidia's elephant in the room... Nvidia DLSS 2.2: The Machines, They Are Learning DLSS 2.2 PROS Increased performance vs. native resolution in Quality and Balanced mode with no visible loss in render quality Can actually improve the visual quality of certain elements onscreen when running in Quality mode DLSS 2.2 CONS Limited current breadth of implementation, both in hardware and number of games supported (55 games, nearly three years post-launch) Requires a GeForce RTX video card If you want the full specifics of how Nvidia DLSS works, you can read about them here . (It's a lot.) In brief, the concept of DLSS is pretty brilliant: Take one of the most taxing tasks in gaming, namely anti-aliasing, and offload the workload to an AI supercomputer. (It's so simple, why didn't one of us think of it first?) DLSS works at most major resolutions, including 1080p,1440p, and 4K. However, the performance boosts will be most noticeable for those playing on the last two. For every step up or down in resolution, DLSS chooses a "true" render resolution that corresponds to the level of quality you select. So, say for example, you're running the game Control in 4K with DLSS turned to Balanced mode; the game is actually rendering the engine in 1440p, and then upscaling the image back to approximated "4K." When the magic trick works well enough, you shouldn't be able to tell the difference between the 1440p render and what the game would look like while natively running in 4K. In our last article, linked above, we tested the performance of DLSS 2.0 and found that at its most extreme, DLSS could offer absolutely staggering performance boosts of up to 184% in games that support it. (In that case, the game was Control.) This was substantially higher than any of the boosts we saw in testing DLSS 1.0, and it holds the promise to change much of what we know about the relationship between new cloud-based graphics rendering techniques and local discrete GPUs in the years to come. Schematic of DLSS AI network DLSS 1.0,2.0, and 2.2 all share one similar caveat, though: You have to own an Nvidia GeForce RTX card for them to work. Although DLSS is a feature that can be toggled within the graphics menus of your games, it will only show up as an option if you've got one of a select number of video cards offered exclusively by Nvidia installed in your desktop. Every graphics card carrying the "GeForce RTX" badge has three kinds of GPU cores inside: the main GPU cores, the "RT" cores (which power ray-tracing), and the "Tensor" cores. It's the last that handle DLSS. If you have a card in the GeForce GTX line, DLSS is not an option for you. And with that introduction out of the way, let's head into some DLSS testing... DLSS 2.2: Quality Testing With the Game 'Control' We tested DLSS 2.2 with the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition card at Ultra settings. Note: Enter "Fullscreen mode" by clicking the icon in the top right for a full-detail image. Though I'd never be able to fully articulate how they managed to do it, the engineers at Nvidia have pulled off the seemingly impossible: make a game look even better than it does at native resolution, and run faster than native resolution, at the same time. Looking at the image treated with DLSS, it's clear that the new network has visibly improved over DLSS 1.0 in how it renders the image, and areas of focus that it determines are important. In testing, I found that DLSS's Balanced mode, perhaps predictably, offered the best balance of performance and quality, managing to squeeze 147% performance gains (from 19fps at native resolution to 47fps in Quality mode) out of the same GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition card. With DLSS switched on, the edges of objects in the game looked more refined, text was easier to read, and everything just looked that much cleaner and crisper than with it turned off. DLSS 2.2 finally delivers on the promise of better graphics with faster performance, and all it took was a little AI sprinkled in to make the whole thing work. A DLSS Caveat: Mind the Tensor Tax Before we finish out this analysis section of DLSS, though, we also need to consider the variable of Tensor cores, and more specifically, their cost. Both current- and previous-generation AMD Radeon cards now run RIS, and Freestyle works across almost every card Nvidia has to offer. Reshade works on any card you throw its way. DLSS, on the other hand, works on just one tier of graphics cards from one manufacturer, which also happen to be the most expensive GPUs that Nvidia sells. (And that's just at MSRP; it takes cunning to even buy one these days and not get fleeced.) So does the Tensor core finally live up to its own value proposition, several years after its initial release? A Control scene in DLSS is a highly innovative approach to the comparatively ancient problem of anti-aliasing, and one that could revolutionize the relationship between raw gaming hardware performance and cloud-based AI computing on the road forward. But as of this writing in June of 2021, it works on just 55 games. (See the full updated list at Nvidia's site .) That isn't nothing, but it's nowhere near the tens of thousands of independent and AAA titles that people play every year. So here's the skinny on DLSS today: If you play a lot of Control or multiplayer games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you own an RTX GeForce card, and your game is on the DLSS list, DLSS will be the best thing to happen to your gaming in a long, long time. The value proposition of paying for the Tensor cores on your RTX card is huge. Plus, once the DLSS training network really starts to get off the ground, I could see developers flocking to Nvidia's neural network for the free performance gains it affords their titles, and the increased visual fidelity in their engines that only a technology like DLSS can provide. The gigantic elephant with DLSS, though, is that limited list of titles and the scarcity and cost of RTX cards. Otherwise, though, the other sharpeners are what we have available to us today in 99.99% of games and most GPUs. Enter AMD to save the day...maybe? AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR): DLSS for All (One Day, Perhaps?) FSR PROS Works on a much larger list of GPU hardware than DLSS Visual results are strong (at least until you engage Balanced mode) Healthy performance uplift with little loss in visual clarity FSR CONS FSR support in a mere eight titles at launch Performance mode has more visual degradation than equivalent DLSS setting Finally, we come to the most recently released upscaling/supersampling tech: AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). As DLSS has steadily trundled forward in support, AMD has been in the wings, watching for its best opportunity to release what could be, if adopted widely, the DLSS challenger Nvidia might fear. Launched as an addition to AMD's growing library of tools contained under the FidelityFX umbrella, FSR uses "spatial" aliasing (as opposed to DLSS's "temporal" aliasing) to reconstruct lower-resolution source images and upscale them to your preferred resolution. Much like CAS, the game will automatically—depending on the developer's input—select a resolution to render the game at on the GPU, depending on the quality setting, and then upscale that lower resolution to match the output of your monitor using a heck of a lot of fancy math. FSR quality explained So, for example, when FSR is running in its 4K Quality mode, it's actually rendering the game at 1440p. Then, using its spatial aliasing algorithm to reconstruct the lost information around sharp edges and areas of the image with finer detail, FSR helps rebuild the image in a way that becomes less noticeable while characters or backgrounds are in motion (which they often are in a video game, barring, say, long-winded RPGs). While it is not strictly based on the same algorithm that powers CAS, according to AMD we should consider FSR an "upgrade" to that same tech, though it uses a different technique to extract the data it uses during the upscaling process. Integrated as a part of the shader queue into the rendering pipeline for a GPU, FSR will be compatible with most GPUs currently on shelves (including many Nvidia GeForce cards, which came as a shock), as well as several Ryzen-based APUs that utilize Radeon RX Vega integrated graphics. To see the full list of supported hardware, scroll about halfway down AMD's reference page linked here. While its hardware support is significantly broader than Nvidia's DLSS, the number of games that support FSR at the time of this story (late June 2021) is...not many, just like DLSS in its earlier days. To be exact, it's a whopping, ahem, eight... The initial FSR support list You'll see seven above in the left panel, and at this writing, DOTA 2 had just added it. (The list may be longer when you read this.) If you don't recognize most of the other titles mentioned, don't worry, most people wouldn't. That said, AMD looks to be pushing forward aggressively, announcing upcoming support for big AAA titles like Far Cry 6 and Resident Evil: Village, two games that could benefit from having their beautiful visuals pushed a bit further in performance. FSR, like CAS and many of the other FidelityFX features, will be made available as a part of the GPUOpen suite of open-source developer toolkit. This means it will be much easier for developers to integrate FSR into their games than what it takes to train up a game for DLSS. Using that slower training methodology, DLSS took years to get to its current supported list of 55 games; with support for GPUOpen, it could be just a matter of months before FSR surpasses that. We'll have to see. The possible clincher? Unlike DLSS, which requires specialized training per-game on Nvidia's neural net, FSR integration is so easy to do that it's also been announced as a part of the Xbox Game Development Kit. That will make it available to anyone who wants to publish games on various consoles in the Xbox family. (Could this finally be the tech that fixes Cyberpunk 2077's frame rate on Xbox One?) But enough about how FSR works. Let's get down to the moment of truth: How does FSR look when we rolled it out with two of the supported titles provided to us by AMD: Godfall, and The Riftbreaker? Can it hold a candle to DLSS? FSR: Quality Testing With the Game 'The Riftbreaker' We tested FSR with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition at Ultra settings. Note: Enter Fullscreen mode by clicking the icon in the top right for a full-detail image. FSR: Quality Testing With the Game 'Godfall' We hen tested FSR again in Godfall with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition at Ultra settings. Again, note: Enter Fullscreen mode by clicking the icon in the top right for a full-detail image. Ultimately while it's our job to nitpick these images to death here, a couple of things to keep in mind. First, most of the shimmering and artifacting we noticed in the images above, especially once you get to Balanced and Performance modes, are far more obvious in screenshots than they are in actual gameplay motion. Second, FSR is using a less advanced reconstruction method than DLSS, so ultimately the quality of FSR will always be dragging slightly behind. That said...you really have to be looking for it to notice it at all. FSR does a fantastic job of effectively coming within spitting distance of DLSS quality, without Tensor cores or fancy AI training required. It manages to capture that same sense of "magically" watching your frame rate go up while the visuals stay the same, although the illusion starts to fall apart if you engage Balanced and Performance mode. Quality mode looked great, though, and still offered some serious performance boosts. In our testing on Godfall, FSR took our benchmarks from a native 4K render result of 56fps, up to 85fps when it was turned on, representing just over a 50% gain in frame rate! Once we went down to Balanced and Performance modes, smudging became more of an issue. The algorithm would sometimes reconstruct distinct vertical lines into a single object, though this happened more often in Performance mode than Balanced mode. Overall, FSR would seem by far the best option for the widest number of hardware owners, and the one to watch the most closely as 2021 progresses. Problem is, its currently tiny library of supported games will keep it out of most people's field of vision until more developers start to integrate the FSR option into their titles. Luckily, anyone can help contribute to picking out which games get FSR ahead of the others by heading over to AMD's FSR "Wish List" survey, and requesting the title of their choice to be considered. You Gotta Look Sharp! So, Who Wins? First, let's dispel the notion of "winners and losers" in this comparison piece. With so many varying levels of support, both from a software and hardware perspective, which tech is right for you will ultimately depend on the hardware you own, the games you play, and your level of personal technical know-how. Anti-aliasing has come a long way in a short amount of time in the past few years, but it seems it took a kick in the "CAS" to get things moving in a new direction where two technologies—one old and one new—work together to give gamers better graphics at higher frame rates in 2021. In quality testing for the sharpeners alone (ReShade, RIS, and Freestyle), I found that RIS still produces the cleanest-looking images, to my eyes, followed closely by ReShade. Freestyle is fine for what it is, but it introduces too many smudges and artifacts in fast motion scenes to recommend as the best pick. (Photo: Chris Stobing) That's why it's hard to call an objective, unequivocal winner on this battleground. Some techniques work on more games, others use more advanced technology. And others still might be more complicated to set up than most users are willing to bear. But, ultimately, none of these factors matters when the end result comes down to what hardware you own and your level of technical expertise. (Especially since video cards are so hard to come by, and so dear, these days.) To my eyes, DLSS consistently did the best job with the game Control, but because of the limitations in support for that game (it doesn't do FSR), we weren't able to test that quality in a 1:1 comparison against AMD FSR. There are no DLSS and FSR titles in common at the moment. In some cases, a game can be tuned in DLSS to give you the same results from an RTX 2060 Super as an RTX 2080 Ti without it. And if you walked away from our tests scratching your head because you couldn't see a difference between the native 4K image and the lower resolution versions with upscaling, supersampling, or sharpening applied? Good! That means they're doing their job. DLSS, in particular, paints one vision and approach to these technologies. It's that of a closed-loop system where constant communication and coordination between Nvidia and game developers will be the only path through which gigantic gains in performance for AAA games (say, to run at 8K on a PC, or to run at 4K-like quality with lower-end hardware) might be achievable in the next few years. The launch of AMD's FSR could start to shift the narrative away from that top-down approach, thanks to its GPUOpen compatibility. But at the time of this writing, if you want to achieve the same effect on 99.9% of games today, you'll need to stick to a sharpening solution like ReShade, RIS, or Freestyle. (Right-click and open image in a new tab to see full-size.) ReShade with CAS integration stands out thanks to the fact that it works universally across all hardware and software, and it comes in a close second on visual fidelity in the sharpener department. Our main caveats with ReShade: There's still a bit of noticeable jaggedness that appears when you push above the 50% mark, and getting it installed is no simple feat. This is where RIS's application of the CAS algorithm seems to be the most...crisp, if that's a word that applies. It regularly won the battle of the sharpeners on every game and resolution we tested at. We'd use RIS where we could, but RIS works only on AMD Radeon hardware, which limits its broader appeal. (Right-click and open image in a new tab to see full-size.) At most percentage levels, Nvidia's basic installation of Freestyle came in last place. It introduced too many choppy edges into the test image that made it look worse than an image that had no sharpening applied at all, though these issues were least noticeable when the effect was tuned down to 25%. The Wrap-Up: Sharpen 'Em if You Got 'Em AMD and Nvidia have, independently of the other, each claimed that their technologies differ from their competitors in X, Y, and Z ways. But from a consumer's perspective, we see them all as different methods toward the same madness: pushing as many frames out of your GPU as you can, and losing as little visual quality as possible in doing that. If you take anything away from this piece, let it be this: If you aren't already using a sharpening, upscaling, or supersampling solution (the one that best suits the hardware you own, and the games you want to play), you absolutely should try one. It's the best way to get a free performance boost—anywhere from 10% to 70%, depending on your graphics card and quality tolerance—and there's no reason not to have one running, with all the different options at your disposal. As Moore's Law continues to slow down and GPUs become more and more complex to manufacture (and maddeningly expensive to buy), it will take more than just raw horsepower alone to increase graphical fidelity, add ray tracing, and move your favorite games to lofty resolutions like 4K or the coming 8K. Sharpeners, supersamplers, and related technologies—FSR, CAS, and DLSS—help to bridge that gap. And if they're already this good now, imagine what's waiting for us just around the corner.

 

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0.6
The Best TVs for Gaming

Serious gamers play in one of two ways. PC gamers usually sit at a desk and use their keyboard and mouse, staring at a monitor that's just a foot or two away and usually measures between 20 and 30 inches. Console gamers, on the other hand, often sit on a couch with a gamepad and headset, staring at a TV that's six or more feet away. The greater distance needs a bigger screen, and that means monitors won't cut it. You want a good TV for gaming. Ideally that means getting a good TV in general, but there are other important elements to consider as well. We judge TVs on a variety of factors. Our biggest focus is on picture quality, measuring the contrast and colors so everything looks as bright, dark, vivid, and accurate as the director (or game designer) intended. We also consider how easy the TV is to work with, taking aspects like remote ergonomics and interface design into account. Those are all good for when you want to watch your favorite movie or TV show, but for gaming you need to take an additional factor into consideration: input lag. Gaming Features Up until a few years ago, fancy gaming features and syncing compatibility were solely for gaming monitors. Now TVs are getting into the action with many of those same features, available over HDMI (rather than DisplayPort, which very few TVs have). They include Auto Low-Latency Mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Nvidia G-Sync, and AMD FreeSync. ALLM is a simple but useful feature for gaming with A PC, Xbox One, or Xbox Series X/S. It lets the systems send a signal to the TV to tell it to automatically go into the gaming picture mode or otherwise turn on the gaming features when you start to play, and go out of that mode and turn off those features when you stop playing and want to watch something. TV shows and movies almost all have consistent framerates, but game framerates can vary wildly, and TVs with refresh rates fixed at 60Hz or 120Hz can have a hard time showing smooth action when that happens. VRR means the TV can adjust its refresh rate on the fly to match the video source. It can reduce or completely remove choppiness and screen tearing from your games. Currently, ALLM and VRR are only available on PCs and Xbox systems. However, Sony plans to add at least VRR to the PS5 in a future update. Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync are other framerate- and refresh rate-syncing features, specifically for gaming PCs. They let a display sync directly with a PC's graphics card (GeForce and Radeon respectively), once again reducing screen tearing and making the action smoother. Depending on your GPU, either of these features are useful if you plan on connecting your PC to your TV. What Is Input Lag and Why Does It Matter for Gaming? Input lag is the amount of time between when a TV receives a signal and the display updates. Fighting games, character action games, and other types of games that are timing-focused play best when input lag is very low. It can make the difference between feeling like you have precise control over everything happening, and needing to constantly compensate for what amounts to very tiny pauses throwing off your game. Input lag generally ranges between 15 and 80 milliseconds for TVs. We consider 30 to 40 milliseconds to be acceptable, and sub-20ms input lag as excellent (and qualifying for this category). How We Test Input Lag Time We test input lag using an HDFury 4K Diva 18Gbps HDMI matrix with an Xbox One X as a source. The matrix processes the source video to 4K, then transmits the picture to the TV with a black box overlaid on the center of the screen. A light sensor placed on the screen measures the box as it flashes, determining how long the TV takes between when the signal is sent and the picture changes, down to the tenth of a millisecond. The Diva can measure input lag with both 1080p and 4K pictures, though so far we've seen deviations between the two resolutions of only two or three milliseconds at most. Resolution doesn't appear to affect input lag when image processing features are disabled (as they should be if you want to get the lowest input lag your TV is capable of). We record lag times both in the picture mode in which we perform standard picture tests (Custom, Movie, or User modes with very simple dark room calibrations for contrast, and color temperature set to the warmest preset), and in any Game or Computer picture modes available (or with the applicable feature enabled, if it's separate from the picture modes). Game and Computer modes and features can often improve input lag significantly over modes that prioritize picture quality over responsiveness, with some trade-offs in the form of color accuracy and noise reduction. We note both lag times in our reviews, and mark the fastest numbers between them in our charts and product profiles. The Best TVs for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X 4K is currently the standard for most new TVs, but it's still fairly new for gaming. Whether your games have true 4K resolution and high dynamic range ( HDR) contrast and color depends on the platform you use and the game you play. See How We Test TVs See How We Test TVs The newest consoles, Microsoft's Xbox Series X (and Series S) and Sony's PlayStation 5, support 4K resolution (3,840 by 2,160) with HDR. Games on these systems will generally be sharper and more vibrant than previous-generation consoles like the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro (and much sharper than the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S, which don't support 4K gaming). The new systems also support graphical features like raytracing that their predecessors don't. Regardless, you should look for a TV that supports 4K HDR so you can fully enjoy the latest games. Refresh rates (the number of times a screen draws a picture per second, measured in Hz) are also important for gaming. All TVs are at least 60Hz, but some are 120Hz, capable of showing twice as many frames per second. The newer game consoles are capable of hitting frame rates of 120fps (though there aren't many cases of this yet), which will result in ultra-smooth performance on a 120Hz screen. Keep in mind that most modern games can struggle keeping a consistent 60fps, so a refresh rate above 60Hz isn't absolutely vital. For Hard-Core Players: Gaming Monitors Speaking of gaming monitors, if you want extremely low input lag and a much wider adoption of various refresh rates and VRR, you need to turn toward smaller screens in the form of dedicated gaming monitors. These are designed specifically for gaming, and emphasize responsiveness at least as much as picture quality. Input lag between 2 to 4ms is common on high-end gaming monitors (though we've started seeing some TVs hit this range recently), and they can also include PC-friendly features that further improve performance, like adaptive refresh rates with Nvidia G-Sync. The drawback with gaming monitors is that you'll be spending much more per square inch. Monitors are generally smaller than TVs and designed to be used from only a foot or two away, at a desk. They have fewer inputs and don't always have speakers, and rarely have any kind of remote control. If you want to game from your couch, a gaming monitor simply isn't feasible. But if you're ready to play from your desk, check out our list of the best gaming monitors. If you simply want the best picture available, meanwhile, look at our roundup of the best TVs, the best 65-inch TVs, and the best 75-inch (and up) TVs. And if you want to save some money, head over to our list of the best cheap TVs, which has some models that are good for gaming. For more buying advice, see our story on what TV model numbers and SKUs actually mean.

 

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0.5
How to Deploy and Scale AI Analytics Across Your Enterprise

The gap between analytic aspirations and enterprise-scale ability is widening across a number of industries. Successful global market leaders are achieving returns above the cost of capital for their analytics investments, yet many companies are stuck in “pilot purgatory,” eking out small wins but failing to make an enterprise-wide difference. The economic shock created by the pandemic and its recovery has already highlighted the competitive advantage of effective deployment of AI analytics. No longer does an enterprise’s physical scale translate to margins through procurement and operations. Instead, forward-leaning organizations are leveraging their data to drive margin and share, nurturing it as a strategic asset and applying it in ways that have a concrete impact on their business. What’s more, the decentralized and matrixed nature of many large companies leads to a more sluggish progress in implementing large-scale analytics or technology transformation programs. While this type of infrastructure has led to marketing and product development prowess, it has hindered the ability to strategically invest in data and analytics platforms or to build the agile ways of working necessary to scale them. Global market leaders who are winning in AI analytics have focused on executing in critical areas, including three that are particularly challenging: In this eWeek Data Points article, Ryan Grosso, US Head of Data Science at SparkBeyond, will discuss how to bridge the gap between analytic aspirations and ability. Many companies have a team of analysts who are well-placed for driving business insight (BI). Yet in order to ensure the success of an analytics project, data science expertise is required. Driven by the data science skills shortage, new solutions are beginning to emerge that accelerate an analyst’s workflow by automating key activities such as root-cause analysis and model building. Such automation saves analysts from the painstaking process of searching for correlations that prove or disprove an individual hypothesis by allowing them to screen millions of hypotheses at once. This also reduces the potential for bias as it is no longer incumbent on analysts to determine which datapoint to explore first, or on data scientists to determine which hypotheses to test; instead, they can concentrate on selecting the most relevant to use as insights or building blocks for a machine learning model. These solutions also lower the technical barrier to entry for machine learning, enabling business analysts to take on more of a lead role – and bringing us a step closer to the democratization of AI. Analytics projects succeed when the process is infused with domain expertise, rather than an overloaded Analytics Center of Excellence (CoE) team running code in a siloed environment. In order to achieve the critical mass of successful analytics projects across an organization, and reduce the burden on the CoE, training subject matter experts (SMEs) who can “speak data” to data scientists while “speaking business” to executives can be valuable additions to the teams working on analytics projects. This helps to foster a culture of collaboration between data science experts and business users, enabling data scientists/analysts to focus more on advanced and complex processes while reducing time to access actionable insights for business users. Multinational companies need to reflect the diversity of the markets they operate within, but this poses a challenge: how do you build scalable AI solutions that support a decentralized business model? For all AI use cases, data scientists rely upon a suite of tools and processes to ingest and transform data and insert it into a storage solution or app. Before cloud-based technologies reached maturity, building this infrastructure was both costly and time-consuming – local differences in the data stack had a knock-on effect on how data needed to be ingested, processed, and stored. Enterprise-grade cloud solutions cut through these difficulties by enabling companies to spin up storage solutions as and when needed and make use of an ecosystem of third-party solutions to cope with diverse data ingestion and transformation needs. For example, migrating physical data centers to Microsoft’s Azure Platform helps pave the way for centralized Analytics Centers of Excellence to remain in-step with operational realities on the ground. Further downstream, analytics leaders are embracing automated driver discovery platforms to enable insights generation at scale, without sacrificing local market understanding. Previously, analysts and data scientists would search for correlations manually – a process that is slow, relies heavily on local market understanding and is difficult to refresh. By relying on a machine to surface potential drivers, AI solutions can be scaled quickly across geographies but still capture the individual dynamics of each local market. Early adopters of AI analytics are already unlocking the benefits of operations-focused solutions. For example, a leading global snacks brand achieved a 1.5% uplift in convenience-store sales in a mature Latin American market, just by equipping its field team with store-level assortment recommendations. These insights require a dedicated data strategy that ensures the data stack continues to evolve over time as new sources of data emerge, enabling fast test-and-learn cycles. Making an enterprise-wide difference with analytics requires SMEs, CoE and business stakeholders to share, understand and collaborate across the entire analytic process. AI analytics unlocks effective bottom-up decision-making, while frontline teams are likely to find themselves entrusted with even greater decision-making authority and influence, and an increasing share of investment. Using technology with a no-code/low-code environment and built-in explainability empowers teams to introduce rich, adaptive insights and ML models to business processes company-wide. About the Author: Ryan Grosso is US Head of Data Science at SparkBeyond Contact Us| About| Sitemap Property of TechnologyAdvice. Terms of Service| Privacy Notice| Advertise| California - Do Not Sell My Information © 2021 TechnologyAdvice. All Rights Reserved Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the products that appear on this site are from companies from which TechnologyAdvice receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site including, for example, the order in which they appear. TechnologyAdvice does not include all companies or all types of products available in the marketplace.

 

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0.7
No, it’s not just you – Google Analytics went down for a while

No, your server and site is OK and all your traffic has not just evaporated. Google Analytics appears to have gone down briefly, and real time tracking is currently unreliable. The issue has caused a lot of panic amongst site owners, but it appears to be confined to traffic monitoring. The system appears to be in the process of recovering, and will hopefully be back to normal soon.

 

 99 /192 

0.0
Dueling Jungle Cruise Trailers Pit Emily Blunt Against Dwayne Johnson

Two trailers, two stars, two completely different feels, one movie. That’s what you’re getting today for Disney’s Jungle Cruise, which opens in theaters, and on Disney+ with Premier Access, July 30. The film stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt and, much as they were when the film was still scheduled for a 2020 release, the leads seem to be at odds. So first you have Johnson, who plays Skipper Frank, releasing a trailer, complete with his own intro. An intro in which he has forgotten the name of his hugely famous co-star (and featuring a major disparity in font size). Then Blunt, who plays Dr. Lily Houghton, countered with her own trailer and intro in which she, you guessed it, forgot Johnson’s name. It’s cute and clever, if a tad forced, but the real reward is what happens after those intros, when we get to see new trailers for Jungle Cruise from Skipper Frank’s perspective and another from Dr. Houghton’s perspective. Of the two, I have to say, Blunt’s trailer seems a bit more interesting. She’s the character that actually puts the story in motion—and Blunt’s brief mention of Indiana Jones in the intro seems apt. Her character stealing stuff, falling out of windows, etc., all feels very Indy. Johnson’s trailer is fun too, especially the intro where we see how the film will pay direct homage to the Disney ride on which it’s based. My only thought there is, Jungle Cruise at Disneyland is funny because of how bad it is. That’s the joke. It’s cheesy. And while the fake hippos and classic “back side of water” joke are directly from the ride, the cringe nature of the humor doesn’t seem to land in the trailer. But hey, it’s just a trailer. Maybe it works better in the film. Plus, that’s obviously just a small part of everything going on here. Paul Giamatti is in this movie. Jesse Plemons is too, though he doesn’t make an appearance here. From what we can tell, Jungle Cruise looks like a giant swashbuckling adventure with all the CGI monsters you can handle. Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

 

 100 /192 

0.5
Samsung 55-Class Q70A QLED TV (QN55Q70AAFXA)

Until recently, Samsung’s QLED TVs have stood out as the company's highest-end offering. Since it introduced Neo QLED earlier this year, “regular” QLED TVs have been relegated to the company’s midrange selection, and that's the category in which you'll find Samsung's new Q70A line. It doesn’t have particularly high contrast and its color range could reach a bit farther in the greens, but there's still plenty to like, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, balanced colors out of the box, and phenomenal gaming performance. At $1,099.99 for the 55-inch QN55Q70AAFXZA we tested, it feels a bit pricey compared with less expensive TVs like the Hisense U8G and the TCL 6-Series, which can get much brighter and offer even wider colors, but its low lag performance makes it a good fit for serious gamers. A Slim, Sleek Design For an LED-backlit LCD TV, the Q70A is incredibly thin, just an inch deep at the widest edge (the bottom). It looks sleek and simple, with a barely there flat black plastic bezel a fraction of an inch wide running around the edge of the screen. The bottom bezel is slightly wider, but still less than half an inch thick, with a small metallic rectangular protrusion in the lower right corner with a multifunction power/input/volume button under it. The TV sits on a relatively narrow, square black plastic stand (you can also mount it on the wall). The port for the power cable sits on the back of the TV, slightly left of center. All other connections sit closer to the right edge of the screen, facing right. They include four HDMI ports, two USB ports, an optical audio output, an Ethernet port, an antenna/cable connector, and a 3.5mm EX-Link port for integrating into RS-232 control systems. Samsung's new Eco Remote is similarly minimalist and stylish. It’s a thin, rectangular black plastic wand with rounded sides. It feels comfortable in the hand. The layout is similar to the remote included with Amazon Fire TV devices, with a prominent circular navigation pad flanked by a pinhole microphone, with voice assistant and power buttons above it and volume and channel rockers below. The remote also features dedicated service buttons for Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Samsung’s own TV Plus free live streaming TV service (similar to Pluto TV). A USB-C port on the bottom can charge the remote’s built-in battery, but you don’t have to use it. Flip the remote over, and you’ll see a shiny rectangle on the back. This is the remote’s solar cell, which lets you recharge it simply by leaving it in sunlight. It’s a unique and eco-friendly feature, eliminating the need for batteries (as well as the hassle of plugging the remote in from time to time). Samsung Smart TV Features Like LG, Samsung uses its own smart TV platform, Samsung Tizen OS, instead of a third-party system like Android TV, Fire TV, or Roku TV. This means the Q70A is slightly lighter on third-party apps than those TVs, but it still covers most of the basics, and features a strong selection of built-in features. You can access Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, and YouTube, along with several dozen other apps and video streaming services, including streaming and playing games from your PC with Steam Link. Twitch isn’t available, though. Samsung’s smart TV platform features plenty of its own tricks, as well. It includes a web browser, an Ambient mode that cycles through art and photos at a low brightness to save power, and a Multi View mode that can display multiple sources on the same screen. It also supports screen mirroring from mobile devices and PCs with Miracast/WiDi and from iOS devices and Macs with Apple AirPlay. You can directly stream from and control your PC or Mac with the Easy Connection app for Windows 10 and Remote Desktop on macOS, access Microsoft 365 cloud services, and even use compatible Samsung phones as a computer with Samsung DeX. It isn’t Google Cast compatible, though, so you’ll need to use a third-party Android app to mirror your non-Samsung Android phone screen. Finally, Samsung offers plenty of voice assistant support on the Q70A. You can set the TV to work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Samsung's own Bixby. Once you choose your preferred voice assistant, you can use it through the TV by pressing and holding the microphone button on the remote control and speaking into it. For all of these features, Samsung’s smart TV platform is overbearing and awkward. It tries to automate as much as it can, and will attempt to configure any new source you connect to it (a tedious and unnecessary process that requires waiting until the TV registers it, unless you press the back button on the remote to cancel it). You can’t simply jump to the input list or settings menu, either; you need to scroll all the way to the left after pressing the home button, and diving into individual picture settings requires navigating upward past the pop-up quick-access bar. The TV tries to set everything up for you and make what it thinks are the modes and settings you’ll most likely want to access readily available, but the result is a clunky interface that doesn’t offer clear, direct ways to make many adjustments at once. Q70A Picture Quality The Samsung Q70A is a 4K TV with a native 120Hz refresh rate. It supports high dynamic range ( HDR) content in HDR10, HDR10+, and hybrid log gamma (HLG). It doesn't support Dolby Vision. See How We Test TVs See How We Test TVs We test TVs with a Klein K-80 colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G signal generator, and Portrait Displays’ Calman software using methodology based on Imaging Science Foundation’s calibration techniques. The Q70A isn’t a particularly bright TV, especially with an SDR signal. In the Movie picture mode out of the box, we measured a peak brightness of 244.307cd/m^2, with a black level of 0.039cd/m^2, for a contrast ratio of 6,264:1. An HDR signal produces a significantly brighter picture, with a peak brightness of 559.106cd/m^2, but a higher black level of 0.062cd/m^2 to go with it, for a 9,018:1 contrast ratio. The Q70A’s backlight doesn’t use a dimmable array, so there's no notable difference between full-screen and 18% fields in peak brightness. This is acceptable but unimpressive performance for an LED-backlit LCD TV; the brightness levels are comparable with generally dimmer OLEDs like the excellent LG C1, but without offering the corresponding perfectly dark black levels. Meanwhile, the LED-backlit Hisense U8G and TCL 6-Series respectively show much higher peak brightness levels of 1,763.39cd/m^2 and 1,14.9cd/m^2 with lower 0.02cd/m^2 black levels, for contrast ratios that are a magnitude higher than the Q70A’s. The Q70A fares better with color performance, but it still doesn’t impress with its range. The above chart shows color levels with an SDR signal compared against Rec.709 broadcast standards, and with an HDR signal compared against DCI-P3 digital cinema standards. In both cases, the TV shows balanced colors out of the box in the Movie picture mode. Primary and secondary colors are all in line with where they should be, with no significant skewing in any given direction. While it doesn’t match Rec.709 broadcast standard color levels perfectly, it gets very close. The HDR performance compared against DCI-P3 is also nicely balanced, but greens are quite undersaturated, so the full color space isn’t covered. Both the Hisense U8G and the TCL 6-Series cover much more of the DCI-P3 color space, though the Hisense’s magentas skewed very warm in our tests. BBC’s Planet Earth II looks quite good on the Q70A, though its limited contrast can hurt some shadow details. Even with slightly undersaturated greens, planets look lush and vibrant on the TV, and the blues of water and red-browns of trees are vivid and natural. Fine textures like fur and bark are sharp and detailed in sunlight, but tend to soften and get a bit muddy in dark shade. The red in Deadpool’s costume in the opening scenes of Deadpool looks saturated and balanced, not tinted slightly purple under the overcast lighting. The flames in the burning lab fight are also bright and colorful, but once again details in the shadows are softened with the TV’s mediocre contrast. Unsurprisingly, this is the case with the starkly high-contrast party scenes in The Great Gatsby. Details like the cuts and contours of black suits become very difficult to see, but they aren’t eliminated entirely; we’ve certainly seen much muddier shadow details on cheap TVs. Whites tend to pop out nicely despite the modestly bright panel, and skin tones look natural and saturated. Q70A Gaming Performance For gaming, the Q70A features auto low latency mode (ALLM) and variable refresh rate (VRR) with AMD FreeSync Premium, along with a new trick Samsung built into its Game mode. When you enter Game mode, a display will pop up at the bottom of the screen that indicates the frame rate of the connected device and whether any modes like VRR or HDR are enabled, with shortcuts to jump to the Game mode settings buried in the TV’s menus. If a compatible PC is connected, you can also set the picture to ultra-wide 21:9 and 32:9 aspect ratios, with letterboxing. These are all useful features, but input lag is the truly impressive part of the Q70A’s gaming performance. We test input lag using an HDFury Diva HDMI matrix, and outside of Game mode, the TV shows a mediocre 66.2-millisecond input lag. Switching to Game mode, however, makes that lag plummet to an astounding 2.3ms. That’s gaming monitor territory, and the lowest input lag we’ve seen in a TV by half (the LG C1 has an input lag of 4.7ms). It easily makes the Q70A one of the best TVs for gaming you can buy. Good for Gamers The Samsung Q70A is a solid TV with a few standout aspects but fairly modest picture quality. It’s packed with smart TV features that are very useful, even if Samsung’s user interface design is a bit overbearing, and its gaming performance is the best we've seen. The TV's colors are strong and balanced, even if it doesn’t reach the full digital cinema color space. Contrast is its weakest point, with modest performance that can soften shadow details, on a screen that doesn’t get as bright as its competitors. This caveat, along with a lack of Dolby Vision, makes the Q70A feel expensive at $1,100 for 55 inches. If you want the absolute best gaming performance on a TV, give the Q70A a look. Otherwise, both the Hisense U8G and the TCL 6-Series cost significantly less and offer much higher contrast with wider colors. And if you want to splurge and get even more gaming features (specifically Nvidia G-Sync in addition to AMD FreeSync), consider the LG C1, which still has excellent input lag even if it’s twice as high as the Q70A, and offers nearly perfect color out of the box with superlative OLED contrast levels.

 

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0.7
Box CEO Aaron Levie: CIOs are driving significant digital transformation

Aaron Levie is chief executive officer, co-founder, and lead magician at Box, which he launched in 2005 with CFO and cofounder Dylan Smith. Levie is the visionary behind the Box product and platform strategy, incorporating the best of secure content collaboration with an intuitive user experience suited to the way people work today. Levie leads the company in its mission to transform the way people and businesses work so they can achieve their greatest ambitions. Box is a content cloud company. Digital business transformation is powered by content. In order for companies to deliver value at the speed of need, they must develop a strong content management and collaboration capabilities. The new currencies in a digital and decentralized economy are speed, personalization, and intelligence. Today,67% of Fortune 500 companies use Box to power their business transformation journey. Box had a huge role to play during the pandemic as people realized they needed to access their content from anywhere and from any device. To learn more about enterprise software and IT trends since the pandemic, Ray Wang, CEO and founder of a Silicon Valley-based advisory firm Constellation Research, and I invited Aaron Levie to our weekly show DisrupTV. Here are the key takeaways from our conversation with Levie. The future, which is here now, is about working from anywhere, on any mobile device. Today's new IT architecture enables many to work from anywhere and the future of work and new business models. Levie has been talking about the importance of digital transformation for a decade. In 2015, he warned business leaders about real digital transformation by tweeting the following: "Adding software to a broken process doesn't make you digital. The biggest challenge is reimagining the process, not writing the software." Digital business transformation is about adopting a digital-first mindset and re-invention of new digitally-enabled processes and business models. Levie reminds us that in the past, digital did not fundamentally re-engineer the process or service that delivers a better stakeholder experience. Levie mentioned what Uber and Netflix and other digital natives companies have done to disrupt industries. The companies that thrived during the pandemic had previously re-engineered their business to be thinking about digital-first business models, including underlying processes. Levie referenced several industries, including life sciences and the tech sector, that thrived during the pandemic. Going forward, business leaders are going to be re-thinking fundamentally what businesses they are in, how do you re-engineer the underlying processes to get the most value to your stakeholders, and how software will serve as a major delivery method for a lot of that value. Box is a content cloud that enables all of these business processes to optimize how they manage and use unstructured content. Content is at the heart of digital transformation. A robust enterprise content strategy and lifecycle management have led to the expansion of the Box platform with several exciting and new acquisitions. Today Box offers security and compliance, workflow, collaboration, e-signature, IT admin and control, and integration solutions to other applications as its toolbox of offerings. Box has dramatically expanded its platform to deliver solutions covering the entire content lifecycle. Collaboration and intelligence around content is a major focus area for Box and its innovation roadmap. Box is delivering insights and analytics around content to accelerate decision velocity and value creation in real-time. Enterprise software must be built for the user. Design for simplicity is another focus area for Box. Levie spoke to us about the consumerization of IT that started more than a decade ago. Enterprise software must be easy to use and intuitive. The design principles from the consumer space need to adopted in the enterprise. Box is hiring consumer designers for their enterprise software. Box is building simple software for the users, with incredible security, scale, and intelligence and power in the backend for the enterprise. Digital transformation is about re-invention of business models and the underlying value to your stakeholders. Box works with customers to reimagine their products and services in order to accelerate time to value. Levie reminds us of the 'jobs to be done' based on the theory from Clay Christensen. Levie referenced companies like Disney as a role model for a company that is reinventing itself to delight its customers. Levie also talked to us about Box's commitment to machine learning and AI. Box is building incredible telemetry about content usage and collaboration. Box is tracking events on content to ensure greater visibility into content usage and flow. Box is delivering content forensics to IT security teams so that they can better understand content usage profiles within the enterprise. Box analytics is helping organizations better secure, protect and share content within the enterprise and throughout the ecosystem. All businesses run on content. Successful digital business transformation is all about improving delivery of value at the speed of need which is directly a function of how companies use content to improve decision velocity and execution excellence. Levie is a brilliant CEO and a technology visionary. I highly encourage you to follow him on Twitter at @levie and watch our entire conversation about the pace of digital transformation, importance of machine learning, and what we can expect in the future in terms of content management strategy and capabilities. We also spoke with CEO and co-founder of Introhive, Jody Glidden, about the importance of AI in enterprise software. Glidden spoke to us about machine learning, AI ethics, the challenge with having enough data to make precision decisions, competing on decision velocity, improving the quality of AI predictions, and future of AI in enterprise software. Our show ended with a fantastic conversation with Dr. Jonathan Reichental, founder of Human Future, and Brett Hoffstadt, engineer and author, about their new book Smart Cities Activity Book for Kids.

 

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0.2
GamesBeat Decides: The best (and worst) Metroid games

With Metroid: Dread ‘s recent announcement, we’re in the mood to explore this franchise’s past. That means it’s time for another tier list. My cohort Jeff Grub and I look at every game in the Metroid series, including spinoffs like Metroid Prime Pinball. You can probably guess which games will make it to the top of our list, but it’s much hard to figure out Metroid’s less celebrated entries. I know I’m going to have fun playing through a lot of these games again while waiting for Metroid: Dream to come out on October 8. Oh, and if you want to make your own Metroid tier list, you can do so here.

 

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0.2
Bluetooth is finally coming to airplane seatback entertainment systems

United Airlines may not always live up to its slogan of “Fly the friendly skies” — especially with ongoing incidents of passengers being removed from flights under questionable circumstances — but the company is on the verge of making air travel a lot friendlier for folks with wireless headphones. The company has just placed a massive order for 270 Boeing and Airbus planes that will have Bluetooth-enabled seatback entertainment systems for every seat. As part of the announcement, United also said that it will be undertaking a retrofit of 100% of its existing mainline fleet that will include similar seatback entertainment upgrades with Bluetooth connectivity. Until now, if you wanted to use an airplane’s built-in entertainment system, you had to either bring your own wired set of earbuds, use a set provided by the airline (sometimes for a fee), or bring along a headphone jack-to-Bluetooth adapter. It’s a striking about-face for airline observers: For several years, United appeared to be on a path to eliminate seatback entertainment systems on its planes, encouraging its passengers to rely on their personal devices for in-flight music and movies. The move also represents a turning point for an industry that has been slow to allow the use of wireless technologies, citing various safety concerns over the years. Clearly, those concerns have now been sufficiently addressed. What’s less clear is how hundreds of potential wireless headphone users will pair their Bluetooth devices to the seatbacks simultaneously. Typically, when you pair a set of headphones to a smartphone, your headphones are the only ones in pairing mode within 15-30 feet of your phone, making it easy to identify them in your phone’s list of available Bluetooth devices. But what happens when you pull up the seatback system’s pairing screen only to be confronted with multiple instances of “AirPods” or “Bose QC 35 II”? Let’s hope United figures out a way to manage such a wireless traffic jam. Otherwise, we could see the rise of an entirely new type of air rage. United appears to be the first major American carrier to commit to Bluetooth support, but it likely won’t be the last. As more and more electronics companies banish headphone jacks from smartphones and other devices, passengers who own wired earbuds or headphones are on the decline, which should prove to be plenty of incentive for other airlines to follow suit.

 

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0.4
Sea of Thieves Season 3, A Pirate's Life, cross platform, Twitch drops and updates

Rare's sandbox multiplayer pirate adventure, Sea of Thieves, has come a long way. Since first hitting Xbox One and PC in March 2018, the developer has been working on a host of post-launch patches and free DLC – with more staff working on the title now than in the run-up to its original release. The seafaring title continues to attract more players by offering continual improvements and additional content to the game's community, such as the game's recent Seasons that include 100 tiers of rewards for players to earn. According to Rare, within the game's first year, Sea of Thieves players collected and cashed in almost 750 million chests, skulls and items of cargo to amass a collective fortune of 642 billion gold. That number will have increased exponentially since, then, as the game has passed its third anniversary and has now amassed 20 million players since launch. We've now reached Sea of Thieves' third season but as an open-ended online service game, there's plenty more to come. To help you keep on top of what's new and what's coming up, we've put together this handy page which will be updated with all the latest announcements. Sea of Thieves has received a Pirates of the Caribbean crossover, which became available on June 22 for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and PC. The game is available to download for Xbox Game Pass subscribers. The trailer, which you can watch below, shows that players will encounter new enemies and challenges, such as cursed crews and bloodthirsty mermaids. You can also learn more about how Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life came to be in this deep dive showcase video. Sea of Thieves Season 3 began on June 22, and brought with it new trials, deeds, and Forts of Fortune for players to tackle. You'll need to increase your Renown by successfully completing voyages, and you can pay for the Season 3 Plunder Pass for some extra cosmetics. The higher your Renown level, the more rewards you can unlock, including gold, Doubloons and Ancient Coins. To get the higher levels quicker, don't forget to complete as many deeds as you can. You can check out the trailer below for everything you can expect when you're sailing the seas. Season 3 is now well underway and the latest update to the game, numbered 2.2.0.1, brings in some fixes and improvements based on feedback from the community. These fixes are detailed in full in the official Sea of Thieves change log, but they primarily revolve around “The Sunken Pearl” Tall Tale, particularly with regards to when multiple crews are playing together. The download sizes for this latest update are as follows: If you're a Twitch user, you can earn special cosmetic items by watching Sea of Thieves streams on the popular streaming platform. You'll need to watch a streamer play the game for a minimum of 20 minutes, then claim each reward within 24 hours. The latest Twitch Drops for Season 3 run from From Friday, July 2nd to Tuesday, July 6th 2021 and give players the chance to win brand new Gilded Phoenix ship cosmetics. In order to give people in various time zones a fair chance to obtain the items, each will be available for a 24-hour window beginning and ending at 10am BST, when the daily reward will change. Sea of Thieves is now available on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and PC. It's possible to purchase the game outright, but you can also pick up an Xbox Game Pass subscription where the entire game is included. If you're not sure whether Sea of Thieves is for you, picking up a Game Pass trial for free and playing the game for a short time through it is a good way to find out. The game is not a port for PC or Xbox, it works equally on both and supports cross-play and cross-progression. The game runs at 60fps on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X owners can also play at 120fps. Xbox One players will have to make do with 30fps, while the PC version's are unlocked. Mouse, keyboard and controllers are all supported across console and PC, and you can cross-play across platforms.

 

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0.3
Forza Horizon 5's weather system makes me excited for Fable 4

I’m not a fan of racing games, but Forza Horizon 5 has me excited. When developer Playground Games first revealed the latest Forza Horizon entry at Xbox and Bethesda’s E3 showcase, I was in awe of the sheer scale and detail of the studio’s next entry in the veteran racing series. Featuring the series’ largest open-world environments to date, allowing players to traverse jungles, deserts, urban sprawls and ancient ruins, and a seasonal, localized weather system, Forza Horizon 5 looks to be the most vast and visually impressive racing game to date. But it wasn’t simply the gameplay footage of Forza Horizon 5, or its authentic representation of Mexico, that had me exhilarated. Instead, it was the sheer prospect of how Playground Games could utilize these features in its future titles, namely the new Fable. Playground Games has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to Forza Horizon’s dynamic weather. Forza Horizon 4 featured seasonal weather that saw players drifting through Britain’s snow-clad hills in the winter and through sun-kissed villages in the Spring. But Forza Horizon 5 looks to take this weather system even further. While the new Forza Horizon will see the return of seasonal weather, the Mexico map will be broken into 11 biomes, each uniquely affected by the seasons. So for example, in the Spring Season, you may experience tropical storms if you’re in the jungle but will only experience light rain in the desert. This seasonal weather also means that during dry seasons you’ll be able to explore areas previously inaccessible in the wet season. Overall, it looks like Forza Horizon 5 will have the most dynamic (and therefore immersive) weather system we’ve seen implemented in a game to date (Sorry, The Sims 4 Seasons). But imagine what would happen if Playground Games implemented that system in an open-world RPG - something that’s not out of the realm of possibility given that it’s now responsible for Microsoft’s storied Fable franchise. Details on the new Fable are thin on the ground right now, but it’s likely we’ll see Fable 4 following somewhat of a similar formula to its predecessors. Previous Fable games have seen us striving to earn our stripes as a hero in a land of fantastical creatures, nefarious villains and wise-cracking NPCs. And it’s that land (specifically Albion) that is key to Fable. We spend so much of our time roaming Albion, completing quests and exploring every nook and cranny it has to offer. But, given the last mainline Fable game came out in 2010, that land was considerably restricted and nowhere near as immersive as it could have been. Fast forward 11 years later and open-world RPGs have come on leaps and bounds, and we expect Fable 4 to automatically benefit from that leap in technology. It’ll definitely look and perform better than its predecessors, that’s a cert, but Playground Games has the opportunity to give the new Fable its own stamp which neither previous developer Lionhead, or many other RPG developers, have been able to before: implementing those dynamic weather systems. Imagine an open-world Fable game where each distinct region within the world (Albion or otherwise) had its own seasonal weather. We’ve seen time progression in previous Fable games, but imagine that the passing of time is indicated by the changing seasons, letting you feel your hero’s progression through the years in real-time - getting all those wrinkles wouldn’t feel quite so bad. It would also add considerable levels to the immersion and uniqueness of each region, with each region presenting its own challenges in terms of adversaries and weather conditions. And maybe, like with Horizon 5, these changing seasons can present different exploration opportunities. Perhaps a cave is iced over in the Winter, but explorable during the Summer months. Expand that idea to side quests and monsters that grow more powerful with certain weather conditions and the result is a more engaging experience that will have you seeing old environments in a new light. That said, I’m not saying it needs to work in the same way Forza Horizon 5’s does necessarily, with a weekly rotation. Instead, synching the months with story beats could work - then allowing dynamic weather within those months. It may seem like a small and insignificant detail, but with Playground Games already utilizing their seasonal weather systems, implementation in the new Fable seems like a sure-fire way to make the world feel alive. While you may think this is simply wishful thinking, it’s possible we may see my dream become a reality. According to a job listing earlier this year, for a Software Engineer at Turn10 Studios, Fable will be built using the ForzaTech engine, which powers the Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon games. The listing states that the team is looking for a candidate who can enrich “the toolset to support an open-world action RPG – Fable” and also add new features like “ray tracing to support the next console generation”. This seems to confirm that the ForzaTech engine will be used to develop Fable, suggesting that we could see some of these Forza Horizon 5 features, including ray tracing, making their way to Fable. But will the weather system be one of them? It’s likely to be a while before we know more about Fable 4, but Forza Horizon 5 has me very optimistic for what we can expect from Playground Games - and the future of RPGs.

 

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0.6
Amazon announces Echo Dot Kids for UK families

Amazon has announced its new Echo Dots Kids product aimed at children in the United Kingdom. The device has been adapted to feature a Tiger or Panda design to make the device look more appealing and it includes parental controls, the Magic Word feature which encourages kids to say “please”, explicit lyric filtering, and comes with voice purchasing switched off. The e-commerce giant said that the device is available for £60 and will begin shipping on July 21st. You'll be able to put in pre-orders over on Amazon's Echo Dot Kids product page but it will also be available for purchase online from Currys PC World, John Lewis, and Very.co.uk. Customers that subscribe to Amazon Kids+ on their Fire Kids Tablets, Fire Kids Pro, Fire TV, or on iOS and Android devices, will be able to get subscription content, features, and parental controls on Alexa at no extra cost on the new Echo Dot Kids. A subscription to Amazon Kids+ costs £1.99 per month for Prime members and £3.99 per month for non-Prime customers. Aside from the aforementioned features, this device includes Activity Review which lets you see your child’s Alexa activity and review their voice recordings. There are time limits so that usage of the device doesn’t intrude on bedtime, dinner time, or homework time, and there’s an educational Q&A feature that can provide answers to questions about science, maths, spelling, definitions, and more.

 

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0.3
With watchOS 8, Apple Wants to Help You Chill the Hell Out

When Apple previewed the features coming to watchOS 8, the next-gen software upgrade seemed iterative—great for overall performance, but perhaps lacking in terms of direction. This was especially true after watchOS 7, which turned the Apple Watch into a vital tool for navigating pandemic life. However, after living with the watchOS 8 developer beta for a few weeks, it’s clear the key updates this time around do have at least one unifying goal: helping you to be more mindful. Apple makes that extremely literal with a watchOS 8 Mindfulness app, which replaces the previous Breathe app and is also a new section in the Fitness app. But the concepts of staying present, reflecting, and being more aware of your thoughts are baked into several of watchOS 8’s marquee features. It’s in the way the Photos app has been redesigned to showcase your favorite memories, and how Breathe sessions add more information to give context to what you’re doing. There are new Reflect sessions that ask you to focus your thoughts, while the watch itself also gains the ability to mirror new Focus settings from iOS 15. The two new validated workouts—Pilates and Tai Chi—are also exercises that combine physical and mental health. You can also see it in subtler updates that help you achieve peace of mind by giving you less of a reason to reach for your phone. watchOS 8 will officially roll out this fall, but starting today, you can try it for yourself via the public beta. Keep in mind, installing beta software comes with its own risks and not every feature is available right away. Since watchOS 8 is reliant on iOS 15, you’ve got to commit to running betas on two devices. That can be a little nerve-wracking if you’re using your main iPhone and Apple Watch to try these out. I’ve been testing on my backup iPhone 11 and Apple Watch Series 5, and while there’s been the occasional app crash, both have been pretty stable so far. This is more a collection of first impressions than a comprehensive review, but here’s what it’s like to live with watchOS 8. Personally, I haven’t had much reason to use the Photos app on the Apple Watch. Currently, there’s only a limited number of photos you can see, and on top of that, the most you can really do is set one you like as a watch face. But with watchOS 8 you can do much more. For starters, the Photos app will show you three categories: Memories, Featured, and Favorites. Memories are a collection of photos taken from a particular day—say,Christmas Day 2019. Features are five photo highlights, and your favorites are self-explanatory. This isn’t mind-blowing, but it is useful in a number of ways. For instance, if there’s a cute photo from a memory, I can now share it a hell of a lot more easily from the wrist. When you select an individual photo, there’s a share button that pops up at the bottom so you can send it via text or email. Your four most frequent text recipients also appear, which is incredibly convenient, if like me, you are a meme-lord. On the flip side, if you get a text with a photo you want to save, you can also save it from the wrist too. The Portraits watch face was something I felt meh about when it was announced, but I ended up liking it a lot more once I tried it out. Setting it up is a little more complex than your typical watch face because you have to do it from the Watch app on your phone. You just head to the Face Gallery tab, select Portraits, and then select a few Portrait mode photos you’ve taken. (You can choose up to 24.) If you select more than one photo, it’ll cycle through them automatically. As for what it looks like, it’s similar to the dynamic wallpapers you can set for lockscreens on your iPhone. Did I have fun moving my wrist around to make my husband’s head jiggle? Yes, I did. You can add one complication, which may not be great if you love jam-packing as many of them as possible. For everyone else, this is a neat way to repurpose your photos for the watch. Neither of these updates is revolutionary, but they did encourage me to reminisce on some good times and share them. Focus is a great feature in iOs 15, especially if you’re easily distracted. It’s also in watchOS 8 and I found it was a game-changer for filtering out notifications while trying to get stuff done. (A constantly buzzing wrist is no fun when you’re on deadline.) For starters, you don’t really have to do anything. If you have Focus set up on your phone, it’ll be mirrored on your wrist. A small icon will also show up at the top of the watch/app as a visual reminder. If you start a workout—either in Fitness+ or manually through the Workout app—it’ll automatically switch you over to the Fitness Focus setting. The only thing is you have to initially set up which apps or contacts are allowed to reach you while a Focus profile is enabled. Another feature I appreciated was that Fitness+ now supports picture-in-picture viewing. Meaning, you can watch your workout while also looking at another app. That might sound antithetical to focus, but I found it helpful in getting back to my workouts quicker whenever I had to address something urgent mid-exercise. I am not a fan of woo-woo meditation or mindfulness, but some people truly find it helpful. For those people, watchOS 8 refines the Breathe feature and adds new Reflect sessions in a rebranded Mindfulness app. The Breathe experience is pretty much the same, but now has a snazzier animation. There’s also extra context on how you can better connect breathing to other physical grounding techniques. For instance, in one session, I was advised to pay attention to the temperature of my inhales and exhales. Reflect sessions are a variation on this. When you start a session, you’re given a prompt that’s supposed to guide you toward more positive thinking. For instance, in one session I was invited to, “Reflect on one thing you’re grateful for and think about why you appreciate it so much.” After that, you get about a minute of psychedelic animation to focus on and a readout of your total Mindful Minutes and average heart rate. You can also view a summary of these “mental workouts” in the Fitness app. If you so choose, you can also set reminders to be mindful throughout the day. Again, this isn’t my cup of tea, but the redesign is thoughtfully done and useful for anyone trying to introduce more mindfulness into their daily routine. This time around, Apple also added validated metrics for Pilates and Tai Chi workouts. Pilates isn’t a new workout type, but the metrics should be more accurate with watchOS 8. I don’t love Pilates, but the one workout I did seemed to be reasonably in line with similar workouts like core training. Both workout types are known for emphasizing the mind-body connection, breathwork, and stress management, so it fits nicely with Apple’s renewed focus on mindfulness. Texting from smartwatches blows. Period. Either you dictate a message and it gets FUBAR’ed by the voice assistant, or you try using your meat fingers to type on an itty bitty keyboard and rip out your hair in frustration. watchOS 8 doesn’t completely solve texting from the wrist, but it is less painful. In terms of messaging, watchOS 8 makes it so you can access Scribble, emojis, and voice dictation from the same screen. You still have to hit the App icon to access the new #images gif keyboard though. Searching also isn’t the smoothest, as there’s some latency. Also, while the #images keyboard suggests gifs based on your conversations, I found mine weren’t 100% relevant. It’s not perfect but, hey, at least you can send gifs! Voice dictation is also still hit-or-miss, but I appreciate that you can now use the digital crown to scroll to the exact part that needs editing. Canned responses remain the easiest way to text from the Apple Watch, but now it’s easier to ask your roommate to pick up milk or send a meme to your bestie. If you’ve got a HomePod or HomePod mini, you can also send voice messages via the intercom feature. All you have to do is open the Home app and hit the intercom button. In my testing, messages sent almost instantaneously and sounded quite clear on the HomePod. But the unsung hero of watchOS 8 is the ability to set multiple timers. I used to have to reach for my phone whenever I needed a second timer, but no more. While I don’t know the maximum number of timers you can set, I was able to set up 3-4 while cooking and doing laundry. If you use a Siri command, you can even specify what the timer is for. Besides the Fitness app, the Apple Watch is most closely aligned with the Health app. On that front, there are a few new updates worth mentioning. I didn’t get to test the Medical sharing feature, as no one I’d actually share my medical details with is currently using the developer beta for iOS 15. However, it’s definitely there in a new sharing tab. Another new feature is Walking Steadiness, which gauges how likely you are to have a serious fall based on how you walk. However, that requires your phone to have a working eSim, which my backup test phone does not. Also, Walking Steadiness relies solely on metrics gathered from your phone so no Apple Watch is required. I did, however, get to check out Health Trends. It’s basically a bird’s eye view of certain metrics that have changed over a given period of time. So in my case, I can see that my resting heart rate has trended higher for the past 16 weeks. I can also see my active energy and exercise minutes have trended lower over the past six months, even if my daily averages for those metrics have remained static. This isn’t something you have to check in on every day or even every month, as you can set notifications to alert you if a new trend is detected. Lastly, you can now see respiratory rate in the Health apps as part of your sleep metrics. Is it exciting? No, although it’s nice to have that data given it’s pretty standard on other fitness platforms these days. Another silver lining is it’s not limited to the Series 6, as it makes use of the watch’s accelerometers. And as icing on the cake, it seems like watchOS 8 might have some battery-saving magic.Last year, sleep-tracking seemed to zap somewhere between 20-30% on my Series 5. This time around, it only drained between 15-20%, which is significant. Those were the main things I got to futz around with, but it’s not everything that’s coming to watchOS 8. At WWDC, Apple teased new ID and car key features are coming to Wallet in iOS 15 and watchOS 8. Those features aren’t available yet, as it depends on which states opt into the program. There were a few other things I wasn’t able to test for this preview, like Assistive Touch, as that’s a Series 6 and Watch SE feature. I also don’t have a HomeKit-compatible security camera or doorbell at the moment, so I can’t say how well those particular features work. That said, watchOS 8 is surprisingly aware of how our gadgets can both be a source of stress and a means to relieve it. I’m curious to see how some of these software updates might dovetail with whatever Apple announces in the fall. Will there be greater integrations with the smart home thanks to UWB? Did we get a Photos app revamp because the iPhone 13 will have dope cameras? Perhaps we’ll see Pilates or Tai Chi added to Fitness+? The Series 7 is rumored to feature a significant redesign. If so, how will these updates work with the new hardware? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, feel free to share everything you want to see for the next Apple Watch in the comments.

 

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0.0
GTA 6 rumoured to launch in 2025

Unluckily for hopeful Grand Theft Auto fans waiting for the next instalment, GTA 6 is reportedly going to launch in 2025 according to new leaks. Supplied by serial leaker Tom Henderson in a recent video, he claims that GTA 6 will see the return of Vice City in a modern-day guise when it launches in 2025, however, he notes that while his leaks are often accurate, he’s not known for Grand Theft Auto leaks. Grand Theft Auto 6’s Vice City is also apparently going to have Fortnite-esque elements such as a changing and evolving map over the game’s lifespan. This should help to keep the ageing GTA Online feeling fresh after launch, with more than just the occasional morsel of content to keep players interested. What exactly might happen as the map evolves is unclear, however, the map is expected to be smaller than other leaks are speculating it is if you’ve seen those about. With the map changes bringing in new areas and expanding the map according to Henderson, it sounds like it shouldn’t get too stale or stay too small for long. Henderson went on to say that GTA 6 will have multiple playable characters similar to Grand Theft Auto 5, with one of those protagonists being female. This character will supposedly be the hacker of the group, implying more focused roles rather than GTA 5’s do it all protagonists. With GTA 6 set to be all the way away in 2025, there’s a strong possibility that some, if not all, of these details, may change by the time the game releases. If it does indeed launch in 2025, then it sounds like there’s a long time to wait yet before we get any more information while Rockstar prioritises employee health.

 

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0.2
Switching from a Mac to a Chromebook: Problems and solutions

Switching from a familiar operating system can cause some anxiety. If you’ve used macOS most of your life, you might be a bit hesitant about making the move to a new Chromebook. More often, users are choosing Chrome OS over their Mac due to the lower cost for hardware. In fact, you can buy a high-end Chromebook for around $1,000, often less than even the cheapest Mac devices. If you want to save some cash, the switch will require some minor adjustments to your workflow. File management, keyboard shortcuts, and app installation all work a bit different on a Chrome OS device. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know to painlessly switch from a Mac to a Chromebook. Chromebooks are built for the cloud, and local storage works a bit differently. Your information gets saved within the Files app instead of on your Desktop or Documents folder. You can use the Launcher to access that app quickly and then search for what you need. All downloaded content will appear in the Downloads folder, but you can also add subfolders for easy storage. If you plan to use your Chromebook as your main device, we recommend using a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive as your primary storage solution. Organization is important for any workflow. You can pin apps to your dock (at the bottom of your screen) for easy access and use. At the bare minimum you’ll want to keep Chrome, Gmail, Files, and likely YouTube in the dock. If you use your Chromebook for work, you may also want some productivity apps like Docs and Slides. Remember you can also pin Android apps — a good Twitter app like Albatross for Android might come in handy. You can also pin files to the dock for easy access. Just like macOS, you can keep it visible or move it to the sides of the screen. Just right-click on an empty spot on the dock and you’ll see options for autohiding and position. To add apps to the shelf, simply right-click on an icon and select Pin to shelf. You can do the same to remove an app (unpin) or you can drag it out and drop it somewhere on the desktop. You can also add web apps to the dock easily. To add a web app, simply visit the settings menu in your Chrome browser and choose the Create Shortcut option from the More tools menu. Name the shortcut whatever you like, and then choose Open as window to make it look more like an app than a Chrome tab. For those that still use Apple services regularly, we recommend adding iCloud, Apple Music, and Apple TV as web apps in your Chromebook dock. If you want to take a screenshot of your entire screen on a Chromebook, press Ctrl + the Show windows button (Ctrl + F5 on a Windows keyboard). To capture a partial screenshot, press Shift + Ctrl + Show windows (Shift + Ctrl + F5 on a Windows keyboard), then click and drag your cursor over the exact area you want to capture. You may have noticed that Chromebooks don’t have a Caps Lock key. You can capitalize letters using the Shift key as usual, but you can also press Launcher+Alt to enable Caps Lock. You prefer scrolling so when you swipe down, you scroll down the page. This is very natural as it’s how smartphones and tablets behave with touch. It’s easy to change the scroll direction on your Chromebook. To do this, click the time in the bottom right hand corner, and click the Settings icon. Scroll down and select Touchpad. Under the scrolling option, select Enable reverse scrolling. The Command key is an integral part of keyboard shortcuts on macOS. In Chrome OS, the Ctrl key is equivalent to the Command key. Perhaps the most annoying thing is the Ctrl key is a bit further to the left, making it a little more difficult to reach. If you want to remedy this situation, use Chrome’s versatility to swap the Ctrl and Alt key functionality. To do this, click the time in the bottom right-hand corner, and click the Settings icon. Scroll down to Keyboard, and remap the keys, setting Alt to Ctrl and Ctrl to Alt. Zooming out on all available windows is a feature all Mac users are accustomed to. In Chrome OS, it’s incredibly easy to navigate through browser clutter. To switch between several tabs fast, you can swipe with three fingers to the right or left (or up or down depending on if you have reverse scrolling turned on). This feature makes it easy for you to get a sense of everything you’re working on. From there, you can organize and close windows. Loyal Apple users know to head to the App Store on Mac or iOS to download brand new apps. On Chrome OS, native apps are cloud-based. This means productivity apps like Gmail and Google Docs live and store items in the cloud. If you want local apps, you can enable Linux apps on your Chromebook. Newer Chromebooks also support Android apps, downloaded via the Google Play Store. This opens up a wide array of possibilities, with millions of productivity apps and games available. Both web apps, Linux apps, and Android apps support shortcuts and are easily accessed via the Launcher. If you’re looking for some apps on your Chromebook to replace their familiar macOS counterparts, check out our suggestions below. Note you’ll want to read our Linux apps on Chrome OS guide to fully understand how to install the suggested Linux apps from the command line. For a more complete list of Android app recommendations, see our full guide to Android apps on Chrome OS. sudo apt-get install gimp -y GIMP is a full-featured photo editing suite, similar to Photoshop but without the high price. If you’re a graphic designer transitioning to Chrome OS, you’ll find that GIMP is an indispensable tool. The functionality and file types are precisely aligned with what you would expect in other photo editing software. There are many advanced tools like layers, lasso and plenty of brushes to keep advanced users satisfied. If you need a photo editing app on your Chromebook, this is the only way to go. sudo apt-get install kdenlive -y Video editing is a big deal these days. Millions of people upload videos to YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok every hour. If you’re serious about video editing, moving to Chrome OS can be a bit scary. Thankfully, Kdenlive is a nice video editing program for Linux that can run on your Chromebook. Those of you that are used to running Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro will pick up the intuitive interface in no time. It’s worth noting that while Kdenlive does run well on Chrome OS, you’ll need a fairly powerful Chromebook to take full advantage of this app. sudo apt-get install audacity -y For the creators out there, you might need a nice app to record or edit audio. This is an advanced audio editor and recorder that comes in handy when you want to play around with various audio files. Audacity has a lot of features that allow you to create your own unique tracks or remix other songs. There are also many plugins available for Audacity which will allow you to connect to sound equipment and other audio programs. Overall, this is the best audio editing app you can get on your Chrome OS device. Microsoft Office is the most popular productivity suite, offering Android apps for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and so on. Overall, the Android version of each Office app runs quite well on Chrome OS. Basic editing features are free in all of the apps, but on devices over 10 inches in size — which accounts for most Chromebooks — you’ll need a Microsoft 365 subscription to enable all features. Unfortunately, the Android version of OneDrive doesn’t work properly on Chromebooks. You can now download Word, Excel, and Powerpoint in a single app, making organizing your app drawer a bit easier. If productivity is your main goal on Chrome OS, also consider buying a docking station to turn your Chromebook into a full-time workstation. For podcast enthusiasts, Pocket Casts is the best podcatcher you’ll find on Android. Lots of premium features and a beautiful user interface make this one of our favorite apps on Android, period. If you spend a lot of time listening to podcasts, the trim silence and skip intros feature will help you get straight to the content in each episode. No doubt, Chromebooks are some of the best laptops you can buy. If you’re considering the switch from Mac to a Chromebook, you should now feel a bit more comfortable. Chrome OS is a breeze to use and many of the familiar macOS keyboard tricks still exist. As for apps, there are plenty of great options. Between Linux apps and Android apps, you should be able to accomplish just about anything on your new Chrome OS device. Let us know in the comments section if you have other tips for Mac users moving to a Chromebook.

 

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0.6
The Smart Home Isn't Worth It

A smart home that responds to your every command and automates mundane tasks is a tantalizing dream. But the reality is that given the current limitations of technology, competing standards, and devices that quickly become obsolete, trying to make that dream a reality today just isn’t worth all the effort. A few years ago, when I lived in a small two-bedroom apartment, I was utterly devoted to making my home smart. Every light was a smart bulb controlled through pre-scheduled routines and automations and a few would even automatically turn on when I got home and walked through the door. Robot vacuums criss-crossed the floors several times a day; fans, heaters, and air purifiers were all controlled from my smartphone with notifications when my attention was needed; and I could keep an eye on the nursery from literally any where in the world—as long as I had my phone and a signal. But something happened that soured me on the whole smart home idea: I moved into an actual house. Once all the boxes were unpacked and life had returned to normal, I sat down one day to reinstall my collection of Philips Hue smart bulbs and became quickly overwhelmed with the task. Instead of two bedrooms, I now had four to deal with, plus a family room and separate living room, an upstairs, a downstairs, and everything from lamps to out of reach ceiling lights to upgrade. Figuring out where to put all the bulbs I had and how many more I’d need to buy to recreate my apartment’s setup was daunting, and it became even more so when I remembered I’d have to eventually configure everything—setting up rooms and programming complex schedules—using less-than-stellar apps. My eventual solution to the task was a simple one: I just ignored it, and three years later all of my Philips smart bulbs still sit unused in a box in a closet. It’s not that I’ve turned into an old man yelling at clouds. I’m still genuinely excited to have a smart home that’s as smart and capable as what science fiction has promised us. I’m just no longer willing to jump through all the hoops needed to get a home that’s barely smart-ish right now. Even if I woke up one morning determined to get all my smart bulbs installed and working in perfect harmony again, I’m certain the hubs needed for the bulbs to communicate with my home’s wireless network are out of date and will need to be upgraded. It’s an expense that’s not worth the payoff for me, and it’s one of the biggest problems with the smart home experience right now. There’s a lot of tempting upgrades out there, and at one point I was looking at installing replacement ceiling light fixtures featuring built-in smart speakers as way to keep as many smart devices as possible out of sight. But I realized that after going through all the trouble of wiring in the new hardware, there was a very good chance the fixtures would be out of date in just a few years as companies continually introduce newer versions of streaming protocols like AirPlay and Bluetooth—and upgrading them would require yet another major rewiring job. Imagine having to drag your smart oven to the curb because one day Google decides that Google Assistant is the next random product on the chopping block. The approach to the smart home needs to be more modular, so that upgrading my feature-packed fridge—an appliance that can last well past a decade—to be compatible with other upgrades, like faster wifi, is as easy as just swapping out a small component, not the entire appliance. Even the approach to smart bulbs is flawed. They’re still considerably more expensive than “dumb” LED bulbs, and a better approach is to make the lamps and light fixtures the smart part, so consumers don’t have to pay through the nose for the bulbs. There are more affordable approaches to making a home smart, and adoption will remain limited until the technology is available to a wider consumer base. The idea of one company controlling and monitoring every piece of smart home equipment in my home is terrifying, and I would never be on board with that. But mixing and matching hardware from various companies in competition with each other also introduces its own complications. There’s no single company that produces the best smart home gear in every category, so savvy consumers usually end up buying into countless smart home ecosystems at the same time to get the hardware that best serves their needs—whether those needs prioritize functionality or price. I’ve currently got Google Nest smart speakers all around the house, but at the same time I often make requests to Siri—like for setting cooking timers or asking about a recipe conversion—because Apple’s smart assistant is always strapped to my wrist. There’s a wireless camera monitoring a bird feeder from a different company, robot vacuums on different floors from two other companies, and air-purifying fans from yet another, and they all rely on their own separate smartphone apps. Right now there are more than 20 different apps in my iPhone’s “Remotes” folder. it’s exhausting jumping between them all, and I have little interest in adding more to the mix. Every company wants their smart home ecosystem to win out so everyone has to buy their hardware (and other companies have to pay to play along). But there’s still no clear winner right now, and it’s resulted in a mish-mash of hardware that simply doesn’t play together nicely. My ideal smart home has me asking a single smart assistant to do everything from setting alarms, to pre-heating the oven, to sending a robo-vac to tidy up the kitchen, but that’s all but impossible right now. This is not to say I’ll never make a push to make my entire home smart again. I’m just going to drag my feet until everyone decides to start playing nice together and the process doesn’t feel like assembling a puzzle with 10 different boxes of pieces all mixed together. We’ve come close to that: The sheer size and influence of Apple means that countless smart home devices from various companies can all be controlled and automated through HomeKit. But it’s not there yet, and you’ll often still have to hop back into a specific device’s own app to access its most advanced features. There’s a potential light at the end of the tunnel, however, in the form of an alliance called Matter. The same way the home video market became cheaper and more diverse in the ‘80s when the inferior VHS format won out, and wireless charging became more ubiquitous once the Qi standard toppled the competition, Matter wants to make the smart home less of a headache by ensuring that products, even ones from competing companies, can all communicate and play nicely together. With companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and even Ikea supporting Matter, there’s a good chance it will succeed. I’m looking forward to the day that happens, because it will make setting up a smart home a much easier task. Instead of poring through forums trying to figure out if a specific motion sensor will be able to activate smart lights from another company, all consumers will really have to do is stick to products bearing the Matter logo. It’s a mentality shift I’m glad to see so many companies offering smart home upgrades finally embracing, because it will pave the way for a truly smart home, but it’s going to take a while. Getting a group of giant companies to agree on anything is a major hurdle, and then getting it into the hands of consumers, either through software upgrades or new products, is going to take even longer. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, however, and in a decade’s time Matter could deliver an effortless smart home—what I’m truly after—and not just a house full of smart gadgets, which is my current frustrating reality.

 

 111 /192 

1.5
Two high-profile Microsoft presidents are leaving the company

Kate Johnson, President of Microsoft U. S. and Toni Townes-Whitley, the President of Microsoft U. S. Regulated Industries, are both leaving the company. The pair announced their departures over the past two days. Both are leaving for "personal reasons," a company spokesperson said. Johnson has been President of Microsoft U. S. for four years. In that job, she led a 10,000-person field team and was accountable for a $45 billion profit and loss center, according to her LinkedIn profile. Johnson posted a note on LinkedIn today, June 30, about her departure. She said she will stay to help the new Microsoft U. S. president make the transition and then see what's next for her. Townes-Whitley has been the President of US Regulated Industries for the past three years. Her LinkedIn profile notes that she has been responsible for a 2,000-plus-person sales organization and an $11 billion profit and loss center. Before heading Regulated Industries, she was Corporate Vice President of Industry at Microsoft. I asked Microsoft why these two high-profile women execs both announced their departures in the past couple of days and received this statement from a spokesperson: "Kate Johnson, President, Microsoft U. S., and Toni Townes-Whitley, President, U. S. Government & Regulated Industries, have decided to leave the company for personal reasons. We are deeply grateful for their respective contributions and wish them all the best in the future." I also asked who will be replacing Johnson and Townes-Whitley. No word back so far. It is the end of Microsoft's fiscal 2021 today. And it's also just a couple of weeks before Microsoft's major annual partner conference, Inspire, kicks off virtually. Recently, Microsoft announced that one of its highest ranking execs, Jean-Phillipe Courtois, would be moving to a new role and passing the global sales, marketing and operations torch to Judson Althoff, Executive Vice President of Microsoft's Worldwide Commercial Business. So maybe this is just an after-effect of Althoff's consolidation of power? Yet another reorg? I'm not sure.

 

 112 /192 

0.7
Google Cloud VMs vulnerable to hijack

Cybersecurity researcher Imre Rad has disclosed a potential vulnerability that can be exploited to get root access to virtual machines ( VM) running on Google Cloud. Specifically, the attack exploits a weakness in Google Compute Engine (GCE), which is Google Cloud’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service ( IaaS) product. Rad explains that attackers can take over GCE VMs by taking advantage of a weakness in the random number generator of the ISC DHCP server they use by default, together with “an unfortunate combination of additional factors". “[The hijacking] is done by impersonating the metadata server from the targeted virtual machine's point of view. By mounting this exploit, the attacker can grant access to themselves over SSH (public key authentication) so then they can login as the root user,” writes Rad. In his writeup, Rad explains that the attack consists of two phases. The first involves overloading a victim's VM with DHCP traffic in order to get it to use a malicious attacker-controlled metadata server instead of an official Google one. Once the victim’s VM is listening to the rogue metadata server for configuration information, the attacker can send across their SSH public key and gain root access to the VM. Rad says his technique is inspired by an attack vector shared last by Chris Moberly, another security researcher. Parsing Rad’s information, The Register is of the opinion that the attack is impractical, despite the fact that Rad reproduces three proof of concepts that successfully exploit the vulnerability. Rad says he reported the vulnerability to Google in September 2020, but hasn’t heard back since. He suspects that, since Google hasn’t closed his bug report, there could be “some technical complexity” that prevents them from deploying a network-level remediation. Google did not respond immediately to our request for clarification. Update: On background, Google told TechRadar Pro it has taken steps to prevent the exploitation of the vulnerability through either the internet or external VM IP traffic, although a complete mitigation has not yet been deployed. According to Google, customers with untrusted internal traffic would be wise to ensure the incoming UDP port 68 is blocked by firewalls to head off malicious activity.

 

 113 /192 

0.4
Government Watchdog Finds Most U. S. Agencies Don't Even Know Which Face Recognition Systems They Use

Despite the fact that more than a dozen federal agencies regularly use facial recognition tech, there’s hardly any oversight into the systems these agencies use. That’s according to a new report out Tuesday from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a federal watchdog agency that offers congresspeople investigative support. Twenty different agencies—from ICE and the FBI to the Department of Veterans Affairs and IRS—were found using facial recognition, according to the report. Of the group, seventeen of the agencies at least partially relied on tech from a private company, like Vigilant Solutions or Clearview AI. But barely did any of the agencies know for certain which private-owned systems employees were using. “Thirteen federal agencies do not have awareness of what non-federal systems with facial recognition technology are used by employees,” the report reads. “These agencies have therefore not fully assessed the potential risks of using these systems, such as risks related to privacy and accuracy.” And there’s a lot of those risks on the table. There have been multiple studies showing that facial recognition systems are generally worse at identifying Black and Brown faces than those belonging to their White counterparts. Despite the fact that the government has known about this specific shortcoming for years, we’ve seen countless law enforcement agencies—not to mention federal outfits like CBP—turn to the tech to apprehend people, sometimes with disastrous results. Back in April, a Detroit man named Robert Williams sued his local police after their agency’s facial recognition tech wrongly identified him as a runaway shoplifter, and arrested him. The Williams case is the latest in a string of Black men being misidentified and wrongly arrested due to shoddy facial recognition tech. Evidently, at least a few federal agencies are using these systems with barely any oversight. “When we requested information from one of the agencies about its use of non-federal systems, agency officials told us they had to poll field division personnel because the information was not maintained by the agency,” the GAO’s report continues. “Officials from another agency initially told us that its employees did not use non-federal systems; however, after conducting a poll, the agency learned that its employees had used a non-federal system to conduct more than 1,000 facial recognition searches.” While many of these searches were used to apprehend suspected bad actors and for general surveillance-y purposes—there were no less than six agencies monitoring protestors in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, for example—the tech has more innocuous uses, too. The Transportation Security Authority (TSA) is using the tech to identify travelers before they board their flights. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) uses facial recognition among its staffers to authenticate officer’s identities before they step into secure facilities. Per the GAO’s report, administrative officers used facial recognition tech to keep tabs on people under court-mandated supervision when they couldn’t meet in person due to the ongoing pandemic. But regardless of use, the GAO said, every agency needs more oversight. At the very least, they should know what kind of tech they’re using, and who’s providing it—not only to hold cops accountable when these systems go wrong but to hold the tech companies behind the tech accountable, as well.

 

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0.0
This Carved Snake May Have Been the Staff of a Stone Age Shaman

Archaeologists in Finland have uncovered a remarkable wooden snake figurine that possibly belonged to a Stone Age shaman. The carved serpent was found at the Järvensuo 1 site in southwest Finland. A ditch- digging team accidentally stumbled upon this archaeological site back in the 1950s, but it hadn’t been fully excavated. Excavations at Järvensuo 1 resumed in 2019 for the first time in 35 years. Previous digs at Järvensuo 1 yielded fishing tools and pottery, along with a unique wooden scoop with a handle carved in the shape of a bear’s head. The site was occupied by Stone Age peoples from between 4,000 and 2,000 BCE. Sedimentation and soggy conditions at this wetlands site—a former lakeshore—have allowed for the long- term preservation of artifacts, particularly items made from wood. The carved wooden snake figurine was found at a depth of nearly 2 feet (0.6 meters), and it made quite an impression on the archaeologists who discovered it. “I have seen many extraordinary things in my work as a wetland archaeologist, but the discovery of this figurine made me utterly speechless and gave me the shivers,” Satu Koivisto, the lead author of the study and an archaeologist at the University of Turku, said in an emailed statement. Carved from a single piece of wood, the snake figurine measures 21 inches (53 c m) long and roughly 1.1 inches (2.8 c m) thick. The head is portrayed in a slightly raised position and with an open mouth. The carving appears to resemble a snake in the act of slithering or swimming away. Indeed, it’s very realistic and reminiscent of a grass snake ( Natrix natrix) or a European adder ( Vipera berus), according to the study. Radiocarbon dating produced an age of 4,400 years, placing it in the Neolithic period. Details of this discovery were published in the science journal Antiquity. “The figurine was lying on its right side, either having been lost, discarded or intentionally deposited amidst the thick lakeshore vegetation,” wrote the scientists in the study. The carving is unique in both “style and character,” they wrote, as no other artifacts dating back to this period in northern Europe can compare. It’s tough to gauge the significance or purpose of the artifact, as the nature of the site is not yet fully understood. But the researchers theorize that it’s a Stone Age shaman’s staff, as they write in the study: What’s more, rock art dating back to the same time and place depicts human figures holding snake-like objects. It therefore makes sense to link the wooden snake to the northern shamanism of the time, during which snakes played an important role as spirit-helper animals. Snakes played an important role in other Stone Age cultures, too. Back in 2019, archaeologists reported on the discovery of preserved,1,500-year-old human poop containing the remnants of an entire snake—fang included. The scientists theorized that the snake was consumed for ritualistic purposes rather than nutri tion.

 

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0.1
Wyze Cordless Vacuum Review: Packs a budget-friendly punch

The cordless vacuum market has exploded over the past year, and it’s no longer dominated by stalwarts such as Dyson, Shark, Bissel, Samsung, or LG. New models from these reputable brands can typically cost anywhere from $350 to $500 or more. However, you have companies like Roborock and Tineco that are launching new models to take a piece of the pie — all while prioritizing affordable prices in the process. The Wyze Cordless Vacuum is the newest budget cordless vacuum of note. It retails for $150, but is currently available for $119 on pre-order. There is a hard limit of 50,000 pre-order units, but as of the time of writing, there are more than 29,000 available. While the Wyze Cordless Vacuum does trade more advanced features for a much lower price point, it still performs admirably when compared to the competition and, like Wyze has always done, it fills a gap in the budget market that makes it appealing to a wide range of users. The Wyze Cordless Vacuum weighs in at just 2.8 pounds, light enough for almost anyone to lift and use for prolonged periods of time. Despite this light weight, it doesn’t skimp on power. A pair of motors provide 150 air watts (AW) or 24,000 pascals (Pa) of suction power. The brushless motor design reaches 110,000 RPM and has less friction — yielding more battery life in the process. An extra 9,500 RPM in the brush head gives additional cleaning power and is specifically designed to help gather up pet hair. As the owner of a cat who sheds so much that by all rights she should be bald, I have to agree. The Wyze Cordless Vacuum does a great job at cleaning pet hair out of the carpet and the couch. There are different power modes, but the standard is Eco Mode, which yields 50 minutes of cleaning. If you purchase another battery, it can be swapped on the fly for longer cleaning sessions. Of course, the Eco Mode provides less power overall. Compared to other models, its run time is less, which can make it tough to clean an entire home in one pass. Eco Mode gives users 7,000 Pa of suction power. Medium provides up to 15,000 Pa of suction power, and Turbo Mode provides the full, promised 24,000 Pa at the cost of battery life. A vacuum cleaner is only as good as its best accessories. After all, there’s only so much you can do with a standard vacuum head. The good news is that the Wyze Cordless Vacuum comes with a variety of different accessories to help you clean nearly anywhere in your home or vehicle. The Crevice Tool reachescorners and crevices, like underneath the kitchen cabinets. The Brush Tool dislodges dirt and dust and sucks it right up into the vacuum. I found it particularly useful for dusting, with bristles soft enough to clean dust from around the TV without worry of scratching the screen. The true standout accessory is the primary brush head, though. While it provides a lot of extra cleaning power, it also stands out for another reason: Six forward-facing LEDs in the head. This added light illuminates dust and dirt on your floor to guarantee that you never miss a spot. This is great for vacuuming underneath furniture. All of the dust bunnies that tend to congregate beneath the recliner and the couch can be easily seen with these lights. Of course, that might not always be a good thing — you might be horrified by how dirty some spots in your home are. Vacuuming might make your floors a bit cleaner, but it’s practically useless if it contaminates your air quality. While many high-end vacuums offer incredible filtration systems, it isn’t something you expect in a budget model. The Wyze Cordless Vacuum surprises in this way. It offers a three-stage filtration system that starts with the vacuum cyclone. This cyclone separates debris based on particle size. After this, a large metal screen will separate the larger particles like dust and hair. The last stage of the filtration process is a HEPA filter that removes up to 99.99% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. This results in much cleaner air and helps to reduce the amount of allergens vacuuming stirs up. After you’ve finished vacuuming, you can dump the dustbin with a single finger by pulling the lever. You don’t have to clean the vacuum each time you use it, but you can increase the longevity of the filter and its efficacy with regular cleanings. The dust cup and the filter can both be removed and cleaned. In fact, the entire Wyze Cordless Vacuum has a modular design that makes it easy to maintain. There’s even a built-in filter brush you can rotate to knock dust off the filter and into the dustbin. The Wyze Cordless Vacuum is a solid purchase, especially at its discounted price of $119. Even at its normal retail price of $150, it delivers incredible value and performance. It might not have an app or a lot of extra features, but its powerful cleaning capabilities and air filtration make it a worthwhile investment. From a budget standpoint, nothing comes close to the Wyze Cordless Vacuum. It offers a lot of power at one of the lowest price points we have ever seen. If you want an alternative, the Shark Rocket Cordless vacuum is a $200 option. If you’re looking for a high-end option, the Roborock H7 has a lot more features, longer cleaning time, and more accessories for $500. With its lighter weight, the Wyze Cordless Vacuum feels more fragile than higher-priced models, but not cheap. As long as the vacuum isn’t stored in direct sunlight and is cleaned regularly, it should last for years to come. At the very least, it comes with a one-year limited warranty that covers it for defects. Yes. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly vacuum cleaner for small jobs around the house, it’s hard to beat.

 

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Phantom Abyss Preview (PC)

I drop and then roll up to a medium chest then search for the next point I can whip up to. This one sits high, allowing me to see the steps I need to take to make it to the other side of a big chasm. I need to jump down, carefully timing my move to avoid some spikes. Once I do this two times I need to deal with some platforms, which should be easy. I think a disappearing floor is also set between me and the key I need to get. Planning is easy. It’s the execution that often kills me in Phantom Abyss. The game is developed by Team WIBY and published by the always surprising Devolver, currently in Early Access on Steam. This is a complex action platformer with some rogue elements, focused on procedurally generated locations. The story, although it offers hints of a bigger world, is focused on the need to gather relics that will allow a demon and the player to escape their current underground situation. The god is immobile so gamers need to move through levels, avoiding obstacles and traps, finding treasure, buying blessings, and watching the actions of ghosts. Phantom Abyss allows only one player to finish a temple before it is retired. The game also shows the ghosts of the players who have perished in a temple to those who try and go further in. These images can give hints about traps and the best ways to negotiate an area. But paying too much attention to them means that you are moving slow and that the guardians of each temple have a chance to get you. The game has solid platforming and movement options, augmented by a whip. It’s clearly designed to offer a modern take on a certain Indiana tomb raider and works beautifully to create movement options and incredible life-saving moments. Phantom Abyss aims for instantly readable rather than impressively beautiful in its presentation. The game needs players to quickly read a space and move and the color coding and visual hints work very well. There are moments of actual beauty n the levels, which is impressive given they are generated, but most players will be moving rather than stopping to admire.

 

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A series of unfortunate events… Or more? What story the recent cybersecurity attacks could be telling

Recently there has been a dizzying number of major breaches disclosed within just months and sometimes weeks of each other. I’ve been paying close attention and doing a bit of research into the most recent data breaches, especially the more notable ones. The most recent heavily covered incident, the JBS hack, is already having an impact on the food industry. In the last seven months we have seen the following things happen: In December, there was a massive supply chain attack against SolarWinds. The attackers basically infiltrated SolarWinds, then put a backdoor, or Trojan, in files that make up key parts of their software. The files are regularly updated and pushed down to all SolarWinds customers using that software which is named Orion. Just a reminder, SolarWinds products are what a lot of us use to manage and monitor the health of our networks. Three months later in March 2021, we saw another massive attack that affected more than 40,000 organizations using Microsoft Exchange. Attackers were using several zero day exploits or exploits not yet known to the general public or vendor who made the software -- in this case, Microsoft. There are reportedly hundreds of thousands of organizations who are victim to this attack. One might say that Microsoft Exchange is integrated into enough enterprise organizations that it is indeed considered a supply chain of its own. Barely a month later we learned about the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. But if we think about what it really affected the most, it was the supply chain for one of our most vital functions -- transportation. As a result of this, I witnessed something in the DC Metro area I’ve never seen before: gas stations without gas. It was not a comfortable feeling. The threat actors asked for $5 million, which some would say is a bargain. If you consider the fact that Colonial Pipeline’s yearly gross revenue is a little over $500 million, the ransomware operators asked for less than 1 percent of their gross revenue. Seems like business as usual for the "modern" ransomware operator as they are known to commonly do reconnaissance or "homework" on their targets so they will know how much to ask for in the ransom demand. As we’ve seen in this case with Colonial Pipeline and others, the group responsible used what is currently referred to in the industry as double extortion tactics. Which means they are not just demanding ransom to decrypt files, but also a ransom to keep from leaking data they’ve stolen. We don’t know what data was stolen, and we don’t know if the operators handed that data off to another data harvester or not. There’s also triple extortion, where the attacker may demand ransom for decryption, ransom for keeping data confidential and thirdly, they may demand ransom from business partners, customers and vendors. To extend the streak, we learned a few short days later about the JBS attack. This was an attack against one of the largest meat distributors in the world. This was yet another ransomware attack that affected a critical supply chain and downstream customers as opposed to just affecting the target organization. They paid an $11 million ransom. This was followed by, yet again, another devastating attack against the New York Transit Authority. In May of 2021, hackers released the private information of 22 Washington DC police officers as if to prove they had compromised the Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department network, which later turned out to be the case. This is right here in DC, in our nation’s capital. To be clear, these attacks disrupted supply chains for our food, our cybersecurity and our ability to defend ourselves, our electronic messaging, as well as both our public and personal transportation systems. Let’s imagine for a moment we are writing a script for a thriller. The antagonist decides it wants to test or practice debilitating the United States. What we’ve seen in recent months could be a prelude to how they may test our cyber infrastructure, which has left many individuals and U. S. companies at the edge of their seats. Or maybe what we’re seeing is evidence our security is improving. An action-packed hero story, where we can overcome the odds with the right tools. The prompt detection and response from the recent McDonald’s cyberattack shows how investing in cybersecurity can render faster detection and response times and mitigate the risk. In many of my public speeches and media events, I would always joke, or at least half joke, that there are two kinds of organizations; Those who are breached and know it, and those who are breached and don’t know it. It is highly possible that more and more organizations are now finding out when they are breached as security and infrastructure has improved. Due to advances in cloud technologies, machine learning, more accessible access to training and other innovations, more organizations can now take advantage of cutting-edge cybersecurity tech at lower price points. I believe we have a responsibility to make sure we stay ready and prepare for any possibility. I also believe we can afford to say we are improving in some areas if there is evidence of that. FireEye’s rapid release of information in the SolarWinds breach, Microsoft's jumping in to assist. The FBI being able to get money back after a ransom has been paid in the Colonial breach is notable, and significant accomplishments. These things all show some forward progress. Respectfully, we still have some work to do -- and I’m excited and honored to get to be a part of it. Image credit: sdecoret / Shutterstock Keatron Evans, CISSP, CEH, CSSP, LTP, is a cybersecurity and workforce development expert with over 17 years of experience in penetration testing, incident response and information security management for federal agencies and Fortune 500 organizations. He is Principal Security Researcher at Infosec Institute, where he empowers the human side of cybersecurity with cyber knowledge and skills to outsmart cybercrime. Keatron is an established researcher, instructor and speaker, as well as the lead author of the best selling book, Chained Exploits: Advanced Hacking Attacks from Start to Finish. He regularly speaks at industry events like Black Hat, OWASP, ISACA and RSA, and serves as a cybersecurity subject matter expert for major media outlets like CNN, Fox News, Information Security Magazine and more.

 

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The future of interactive characters, part 1/4: Twelve basic principles of behavior

This post was co-authored by Wendelin Reich and Werner Schirmer. Together with Sophie Peseux we're founders of Virtual Beings, an artificial behavior-startup that develops mobile games with deeply interactive non-player characters (NPCs). There's a delightful little scene in the science-fiction movie Her (2013) where Theodore, the protagonist, plays a video game in augmented reality. At one point, an NPC turns towards him and starts insulting him. This sudden display of real personality from an otherwise bland character is so unexpected that it makes Theodore laugh as well as think. He realizes this behavior is a puzzle. By insulting the NPC back, he ends up solving it and the game continues. Eight years later, the state of the art in interactive characters still doesn't provide anything close to Theodore's experience. Among professionals and players alike, there's a strong consensus that character AI hasn't seen qualitative breakthroughs since about 2005, the year F. E. A. R. was released. Even worse, recent textbooks on game AI state explicitly that innovation in character AI has essentially come to a halt, the field nowadays being more interested in AI-driven art production, system-level AI and so on. A clear majority of popular games today features NPCs of some kind. We therefore believe that this dearth of innovation in character AI is both a creative bottleneck for future games and an immense opportunity for folks who are willing to approach the problem with a fresh look. This first article of our four-part series on the future of interactive characters therefore starts at what we see as the logical beginning. If the purpose of artificial agents such as NPCs is to behave in ways that engage players, we need to ask ourselves just what agent behavior is in the first place (where 'agent' refers to both animals and humans). Our academic roots are in both psychology and artificial behavior (AB). Over many years of development on Rascal, our AB-engine, we have found that behavior is characterized by twelve properties. We call them 'principles' as a small homage to Disney's famous twelve basic principles of animation. Some of them are obvious, others less so. What's important is that these twelve principles, taken together, sharply delimitate behavior from anything that resembles it without matching it. And more importantly: If you would like to create an AB-engine which allows interactive characters to feel 'alive', you'd want to make sure that it supports all twelve. At first sight, behavior seems to be about muscles that move. Let's say you're sitting in a fancy restaurant, waiting for your date to show up. Your fingers are nervously tapping on the table and your heart (also a muscle) is racing. Does that mean you're doing two things at the same time here? Not quite. Living bodies are full of complicated stuff doing complicated things, but most of this isn't perceivable from the outside. For our purposes, behavior includes only events that are observable without special instruments (such as an MRI scanner). So if your racing heart contributes to your overall nervousness and you end up knocking over your glass of orange juice and ruining your shirt - that would be observable, hence behavior. For AB, this first principle entails a welcome simplification: We don't have to try to recreate life itself, just its appearance. Disney called this ' the illusion of life '. We'll go one step further and call it the illusion of interactive life - something we'll cover in a later blog post. Living beings behave all the time, from birth all the way to their death. Our language recognizes this by providing us with an arsenal of terms we can apply to someone who isn't showing any movement or making any audible sound. For example, we may say that this person is sleeping, sitting still, holding their breath, playing dead, and so on. Doesn't this conflict with principle 1? No, because even when an agent is seemingly doing nothing, we can observe something: In the GIF on the left, you can tell effortlessly that sitting perfectly still under a shower of balloons is a skilled (and probably rehearsed) display of behavior. The mere act of sitting straight requires coordinated use of dozens of muscles. In a more general vein, we may say that agents emit continuous behavior streams. The problem of AB is thus to generate such streams from individual behaviors that are connected to preceding and subsequent behavior. There is no real life behavior that is not interactive. For example, playing with a friend involves responding to their actions, and climbing a rock requires adapting one’s hands to its shape. Even the most self-involved behavior takes place in a context and needs to interact with it. Take breathing as an example, where the respiration rate depends (among other things) on the density of oxygen in the atmosphere. If we take away the context (oxygen), the behavior (breathing) ceases to make sense. Behavior is how agents relate to the world, and that is why all behavior needs to be interactive. This also means that there is no difference between behavior that is interactive, adaptive or responsive - these words just add different flavors to the fact that behavior is necessarily contextual. For AB, this means that all behavior needs to be procedurally generated - which is unfortunately the exact opposite of what happens in most games today, which instead tend to assemble behavior streams from canned packages of pre-configured behavior: stand-loop, walk-loop, jump and so on, with awkward transitions between them. Context imposes lots of constraints on behavior, in the form of conditions that shape it in various ways. By the far the most important one is the physical makeup of the world - the resistance it offers to the agent's body, the way it allows sound to propagate, and more. Constraints can be passive or active themselves, thereby directing an agent's behavior dynamically and somewhat unpredictably. AB must hence go beyond mere procedural selection of behavior and offer full-fledged support for procedural animation, allowing the behavior stream to adapt to constraints on the fly. AI textbooks often distinguish 'scripted' from 'unscripted' behavior, implying that the latter is somehow better and more organic. This seems a bit pointless to me, because real agent behavior is always a combination of both. In fact, our brains have dedicated circuitry (notably the cerebellum) to store gigantic databases of parametric motion sequences. These sequences make it much easier for the brain to deploy standard forms of behavior. At the same time, such sequences are highly adaptable to concrete environments and dynamic context. This makes for a powerful combination. Instead of having to decide freshly each time exactly which muscles to move, when, and how much, to produce, say, a tango, it can use templates that leave only a few parameters to be filled in at 'runtime', so to speak. Apart from reducing complexity, this approach also facilitates synchronization of behavior between several individuals, and it explains in part why real behavior can sometimes feel scripted. Modern AB engines such as Rascal take their inspiration from neuroscience and incorporate parametric, adaptive sequencing into their architecture. Even the most perfectly planned behaviors won't always survive first contact with reality. If they do, agents change their mind all the time and their behaviors will have to follow suit. This is an almost trivial observation about the real world but a hard challenge for AB, mostly because of principle 2. Interruptions can't just break off the behavior stream and start a fresh one. The requirements for continuity and for rapid interruptibility pull in opposite directions, creating a tension that even an athlete like LeBron James can't always resolve gracefully. AB engines are faced with the added challenge that such a perceived lack of control may be precisely what the user of the engine wants to achieve (e.g., for comic effect). Rascal achieves this via a layered control architecture that's inspired by robotics - something we might discuss in a future post. You cannot step twice into the same river, and you cannot display twice the same behavior. Some difference, however small, will always persist - and that's part of what makes natural behavior, well, natural. Importantly, these different expressions of one and the 'same' behavior tend to be both random and structured. The Weasley twins may hold their heads and open their lips in slightly different ways when they ask 'What?', but they cannot go so far as to, say, close their mouth when it needs to be open, or vice versa. Evolutionary biologists call this phenomenon patterned variation. Whenever it's found, it indicates that the variations are due to underlying generative principles or rules - for example, rules governing how the vocal apparatus can produce the word 'what'. That doesn't mean that AB engines need to simulate (say) an entire vocal apparatus to produce believable variations. In practice, the dimensionality of possible variations is often limited and can be approximated in more superficial ways. The closer we look at an agent's body while it's displaying behavior, the more we see that several things usually occur at once. This and the following principle help to establish some order here. Let's start with the observation that from a kinematic point of view, behavior is almost always hierarchically organized. A handshake illustrates this nicely. Despite its name, this little ritual involves coordination of many body parts that are in hierarchical relationships, where subordinate parts are affected by superior ones. In the GIF on the left it all starts with the torso, which positions the arms (which are subordinate to the torso) and leans forward during the shake. Meanwhile, the head (which also depends on the torso) orients towards the other party and the eyes (which depend on the head) need to look downwards initially to coordinate the initial grip. They then look up and connect with those of the other. Once we start looking for hierarchies in behavior, we find them everywhere, and to make things worse, they evolve rapidly over time (recall principle 5). The consequences for AB are significant, but (fortunately) identical to those of the next principle. What is Peggy Olson from 'Mad Men' doing? She is walking. She is smoking. The fact that there are (at least) two perfectly good answers bothers no one because it's normal to do several things in parallel. These things don't even have to be in a hierarchical relationship (litmus test: you can smoke without walking, and vice versa). Still, the consequences of principles 8 and 9 for AB are identical. They entail that the behavior stream must be composed from multiple sub-behaviors that can be hierarchically organized. As an added complication, these sub-behaviors can control distinct or overlapping motor domains of the body (eyes, mouth, limbs,...). For an example of distinct domains, look no further than Peggy, who's smoking behavior doesn't interfere at all with her walk. For overlapping domains, imagine that Peggy were walking as well as shaking from fear - two behaviors that will effect the same body parts, but in distinctive and potentially complex ways. The final three principles can be discussed together for the purposes of this overview, as they are about the relationship between behavior and cognition. The things that emit behavior (i.e., agents) are also the things that have central nervous systems which control their behavior. And the things that see this behavior (i.e., other agents) also automatically interpret this behavior. We have been hardwired by evolution to 'read' (unobservable) cognitive causes into observable behavior and thereby give it intentionality and meaning. Thus, in the GIF above, you don't just see an anchorwoman who is lifting and then lowering her arm - you see a lady who is trying to high-five her colleague, failing to solicit her attention, and ultimately ashamed about her failure. Tons of psychological studies have shown that such attributions are automatic and irrepressible. For AB, this implies that it's impossible to separate the behavior emitted by artificial agents from the meaning it elicits. Behaviors always express something, whether you want it to or not. AB engine development is therefore not just an engineering challenge, but also (and foremost) a psychological one. It's about convincing the player of the (artificial) meaningfulness of generated behavior, which is a topic we plan to talk about in several future posts. We hope that this overview has given you a greater appreciation of the sheer complexity of behavior in the real world and the challenges of translating it into artificial behavior. But if you think about it, behavior is really all we have to connect with our fellow creatures, to understand them and be understood by them in turn. That's why we're passionate about it, and why we want to share more of our R&D with you in subsequent posts.

 

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Couple Fined $18,000 for Digging Up 36 Endangered Joshua Trees

The endangered Joshua tree is getting some reinforcements from the legal system. A California couple agreed this week to pay an $18,000 fine for digging up 36 Joshua trees on their California property that sits just north of iconic Joshua Tree National Park. The drama began in February when a neighbor of Jeffrey Walter and Jonetta Nordberg-Walter called in a tip to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that the couple was using a tractor to mow down the trees. According to a news release from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office, they were clearing land they owned to build a house. After seeing that some other trees appeared to be marked for removal, the neighbor also warned Walter and Nordberg-Walter that they weren’t allowed to remove them. (The San Bernardino County district attorney has told press that the couple thought smaller Joshua trees were totally fine to dig up.) When a state wildlife officer came to the property, Walter and Nordberg-Walter had left, but he found “a freshly dug and refilled hole” that had three dozen trees in it. (That’s one way to dispose of the bodies.) The couple was charged with the unlawful removal of the trees, and the case concluded with the $9,000-a-piece fine last week. “I would hope that the person that would otherwise take, remove, bulldoze a Joshua tree would understand that they are facing fairly significant criminal liability for doing so,” Douglas Poston, supervising deputy district attorney with the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office, told the Los Angeles Times. The wizened, otherworldly-looking Joshua tree became the first plant to receive temporary protected as an endangered species due to the threat posed by climate change. A petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity to the state’s Fish and Game Commission, which was approved unanimously, argued that prolonged drought and rising temperatures are putting the trees at risk. Recent research backs this up; findings published in 2019 shows that if current emissions trends continue apace, only 0.02% of the trees’ current habitat will be suitable for them by the end of the century. Even if the world makes some serious changes, less than 20% of their habitat for the trees. Raging wildfires are also posing a huge threat: Last August, the Dome Fire burned an estimated 1.3 million Joshua trees. Not everyone in the region, however, is a fan of protecting the trees. There’s been some pretty stiff local opposition to granting Joshua trees additional state or federal protections, due largely to concerns over how it would impede economic development and construction.Last year, pretty much the entire city government of Yucca Valley, a small town north of the national park, came out against the proposal before the Fish and Game Commission. As the Guardian reported, city officials cited a local law requiring that people file a permit before cutting down a Joshua tree as evidence that the trees had enough protection, but public records obtained by a local activist showed that none of the 147 permit requests to cut down a tree in 2020 were denied. Because of the new protections, messing with Joshua trees carries some serious ramifications. “Taking” the trees is a misdemeanor, and comes with fines of up to $4,100 and/or six months in jail per tree; the maximum fine for Walter and Nordberg-Walter could have been more than $147,000, a far cry from the $19,000 they were fined. Meanwhile, Yucca Valley recently passed limited permitting for homeowners looking to remove Joshua trees. The lowest cost of removal for younger trees is $1,050 per tree, so legally removing the 36 trees the couple bulldozed would have run them more than $36,000. The disparity in math worries some activists. “Anytime the fine for operating illegally is less than the cost for complying with the law, you’re sending the wrong message,” Steve Brown, the director of Mojave Watch, a watchdog organization in the region, said in an email. “In this case, the message to developers in the Mojave Desert is if you get caught (and you may not), the odds are you will pay less than if you complied with the requirements of the California Endangered Species Act.” It certainly seems that at one point the couple didn’t have a high regard for the trees. Brown sent along an undated Facebook screenshot of a thread discussing the couple’s charges. “You obviously have never been to Joshua tree and seen the thousands of those cactus,” an account with the name Jonetta Walter replied to one user who brought up Joshua trees. “They are not endangered.” Regardless of what went down on Facebook, Walter and Nordberg-Walter opted to forgo lawyers and, per the district attorney, have been cooperative with the investigation and already paid part of their fines. The couple has been placed in a pretrial diversion program that will allow them to avoid jail time and allow them to work off even more of that dollar amount by volunteering at Joshua Tree National Park or with the Mojave Desert Land Trust. “That’s unacceptable,” Brown said of the community service provision, “especially at a time when we’ve lost miles of protected Joshua tree forest to wildfire, large scale development is rampant, and climate change and drought are taking a toll on these trees, wildlife, and desert habitat.” The district attorneys’ office said if the couple pays off their fines and follow the terms of their probation, the charges will be dropped; if not, they will be prosecuted. “If you kill a Joshua Tree and if the evidence is there we will prosecute,” Poston told CNN . “It’s a crime. You don’t have to like the law, but it’s the law and we take it very seriously.”

 

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ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G review

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G is a quality smartphone that goes for top specs rather than novel features. While its cameras are a top feature, its software is a bit unrefined, leading the phone to feel less polished than the best phones on the market. The Axon 30 Ultra 5G follows the ZTE Axon 20 5G, which was the first phone to pack an under-display front-facing camera. It was a large smartphone with its 6.92-inch display. The ZTE Axon 30 5G Ultra went back to a simple punch-hole for its selfie camera as well as a more modest (but still large) 6.67-inch screen; two choices that push the design closer to that of mainstream phones. Still, its display’s 144Hz refresh rate is the best on the market. The ZTE Axon 30 5G Ultra may not have the novel features introduced by its predecessor, but it packs top specs and cameras that rival the best Android phones on the market. Chief of these is the leading Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset paired with 8GB,12GB or 16GB of RAM, and 128GB to 1TB of storage – specs matching those in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. The ZTE Axon 30 5G’s cameras are also top-notch, with a quad rear camera featuring a 64MP main shooter and 8MP periscope telephoto lens capable of 5x optical zoom and impressive 60x digital. While that maximum zoom doesn’t produce as refined photos as the 50x digital ‘Space Zoom’ in the S21 Ultra, it’s still a far superior telephoto experience than most phones have. That makes it more disappointing that the software isn’t quite comparable to the polish of that on other Android phones. The camera app was finicky, occasionally opening to a fully black screen, while other apps occasionally crashed. Otherwise, the MyOS overlay had some appealing tweaks to Android that made controls larger and more accessible, which we preferred. And while its design – the back and front glass both curve into a narrow metal side – looks a lot better than it feels to hold, the phone is undeniably pretty and more stylistic than its ‘black rectangle’ contemporaries. The camera block is undeniably huge, and is so noticeably thick that the phone wobbles when placed on a flat surface, but its aesthetic flourishes make it far from an eyesore. That physical aesthetic contrasts wildly with the MyOS UI overlay, which has boxier icons and older aesthetics than Android skins on other phones, let alone stock Android 11. But it does have all the modern bells and whistles that come with the latest version of Android. All in all, the ZTE Axon 30 5G looks and operates like a flagship, albeit one with some shortcomings in its interface. At its price point, though, it’s a solid Android phone with a lot to offer. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G went on sale on June 4, 2021, in the US, with a later release planned for Canada, Europe, Japan, and other countries, though ZTE wasn’t clear when it would be available in these other regions. We don’t yet know if the phone will be available in the UK or Australia. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G retails for $749 / £649 (around AU$965) for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage configuration, and up to $849 USD, £739 GBP (around AU$1,095) for the 12GB RAM and 256GB configuration. That’s more than the ZTE Axon 30 Pro 5G, which reportedly retailed for €400 (around $485 / £345 / AU$630). The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G comes in traditional black and white hues, as well as a light blue and light brown. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G looks plenty sleek, despite its massive camera block. That’s its most defining feature, but the handset has more refined touches that make it look even more premium than other flagship phones. For instance, the Axon 30 Ultra’s front glass has waterfall curves, which isn’t too uncommon in high-end phones – but much rarer, the Axon 30 Ultra’s rear glass is curved too. Curved glass on front and back means the chromed metal sides between them are very thin. It looks premium but is too minimal to get a good grip on. Thus it’s awkward, and even a bit unpleasant, to hold one-handed. The buttons – a textured lock button and a volume button rocker – are necessarily thin to fit in these sides. Those thin sides curve seamlessly into the top and bottom, which are attractively chromed. The top has a single microphone, while the bottom has a central USB-C port, speaker on the right, and SIM slot on the left. There’s another speaker near the earpiece on the top of the display, and both combined produce a very even (and evenly-distributed) sound, which is great for watching media on the go. The glass back of the phone has a frosted finish, but it’s the camera block that will draw eyes – a massive rectangle on the top left corner. There’s three standard circular lenses, a flash and a LiDar sensor, plus a squared periscope lens on the bottom. This gives the camera block a bit of a hodgepodge look, but the chromatic finish on the surface between the lenses contrasts nicely with the non-reflective frosted glass of the phone’s back cover. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G has a 6.67-inch AMOLED display, which is large already, but looks even bigger with the waterfall curved sides. The screen’s 20:9 ratio makes the phone feel a bit wider than other flagship phones. The display’s picture is bright and crisp, capable of showing an alleged 1 billion colors and rendering HDR10+ content. Its Full HD Plus (2400 x 1080) resolution is pretty standard among phones, so it’s not the sharpest screen out there – the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra’s Quad HD (3200 x 1440) resolution display has it beat in terms of sheer pixel density. What the Axon 30 Ultra 5G does have over its contemporaries is a 144Hz refresh rate screen, which makes everything from web browsing to gaming buttery smooth. In tests playing 4K video, the Axon 30 Ultra 5G’s display produced a picture with stunning clarity, a true testament to its screen’s rich color palette despite the Full HD resolution maximum. In side by side tests with other phones playing the same video, the Axon 30 Ultra 5G’s display tended toward a higher-saturated picture, with colors that were noticeably brighter and richer than other phones, though not too much as to feel unrealistic. As mentioned above, the display’s waterfall sides look classy, though there are no controls or functionality using the screen’s edges – it’s just for looks. The front-facing camera is located in a punch-hole at the center of the top of the screen, unlike the under-display camera of the Axon 30 Ultra 5G’s predecessor. Curiously, the phone’s more affordable sibling, the Axon 30 Pro, retains this feature. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G is a step backward in terms of its front-facing camera, which is in a punch-hole instead of its predecessor’s under-screen selfie camera – not in terms of capability, but just as a display progression. However, its main suite of cameras is impressive – main, ultra wide, telephoto, and even an intermediate ‘wide’ camera with laser autofocus. As a whole, the system is pretty handy to shoot at various distances, with its 5x optical periscope lens maxing out at an impressive 60x digital zoom. Practically, that means I could sit in the cheap seats at a baseball stadium a few hundred feet above home plate and read the name on the back of the hitter’s jersey. At the 60x digital zoom maximum, Axon 30 Ultra 5G’s cameras might capture so much smudged color that the picture belongs in the Impressionist section of an art museum, but that meant more conservative zoom levels up to 20x caught good detail, though the clarity washed out closer to 30x. Otherwise, the phone handled daylight and well-lit environments well, though it struggled with contrasted lighting – for instance, letting dark foregrounds drown out in deep blacks but capturing bright background areas well. That said, the 64MP main camera still captured plenty of detail in bright photos with even lighting. The photo software processing struggled in some areas but not others. In one instance, a portrait selfie taken by the 16MP front-facing camera rendering impressive depth but left a scattering of bright red dots – which were hats and jerseys featuring the home team’s signature red hue. At other times, decreasing the zoom level from 60x didn’t actually zoom out the picture until it hit between 30x and 20x, which seemed like a failure to register control inputs. That said, the actual camera app deserves acclaim, with the most-used settings (timer, resolution ratio, composition grid) tucked away in a sensible drop-down menu. While the English localization isn’t perfect, the interface feels thought out – for example, the multi-camera mode shows small live previews of the various lenses primed to take simultaneous shots inset in the screen’s bottom-right corner, visible but not in the way. The camera app has the expected assortment of sub-modes for taking different shots like panorama, mono, and macro as well as rarer ones like long exposure and moon for taking shots of our favorite satellite. The camera suite’s rear video capability maxes out at 8K video at 30fps or 4K at 60fps. Zoom comparisons: from far out to all the way in (60x) Other zoom: And most importantly, how it shoots food. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G packs top-level smartphone specs, starting with its Snapdragon 888 chipset. The phone starts at 8GB of RAM, up to 16GB; on paper, it’s one of the most powerful smartphones you can buy. In practice, the phone runs smoothly, with no hang ups or slow down while performing even demanding tasks like watching media or playing intensive games. That leads to a Geekbench 5 score of 3594, a respectable result given the model we tested had the phone’s minimum configuration of 8GB of RAM and just a bit lower than the comparably-specced OnePlus 9’s score of 3654. The Axon 30 Ultra 5G has Android 11 out of the box, giving users access to universal dark mode and other current Android features. The MyOS overlay is a bit more noticeable than other Android skins, with more pastel colors and larger, squared-off icons than other phones. The phone’s software isn’t as refined as that on rival flagship phones. We noticed apps delayed or failing to load every so often: the camera app, for instance, failed to fully open from the Lock Screen several times and just displayed a black screen. It’s a lack of polish that’s fixable with updates, of course, and blemishes the otherwise appealing software choices. The easily-accessible menu options in the aforementioned camera app is an example of intuitive interface design found elsewhere, like in the control center, which has often-used menu options (flashlight, bluetooth, WiFi) in big buttons on the top. The brightness bar is wide and easy to toggle. It might be too oversized for some users’ preferences, but I found the extra accessibility far more appealing than perhaps a more aesthetically attractive button arrangement. The Axon 30 Ultra 5G has a 4,600mAh battery, which is comparable to the capacity in other premium phones – like, say, the 4,800mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus. There is no wireless charging, nor reverse wireless charging, but there are battery-saving modes to eke out more running time. All that capacity enables the Axon 30 Ultra 5G to last over a day and well into the second on a full charge. Tasks drain the battery at a rate that's in line with other flagship phones: watching a 30-minute TV episode or playing a 10-minute match of a graphically-intense game (in our case, Call of Duty: Mobile) will sap about 3% of the battery's main capacity. But that doesn’t matter much given how fast you can recharge the phone using the 65W charger included in the box. In one instance, we juiced up the phone from 3% up to 84% in 30 minutes. First reviewed: June 2021

 

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0.2
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart patch adds 120 Hz display mode

Insomniac Games has released the latest patch for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, which includes various additions to the game along with some general fixes and polishing. One of the biggest features added with the Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart patch is the addition of 120 Hz display mode. Watch on YouTube This will reduce input latency when using a compatible display, and the frame rate target for Fidelity graphics mode increases to 40 FPS. With the update, you can now disable the Phantom Dash VFX, Skip Cutscenes is now a bindable option for the D-pad, and there’s now an option to disable the level up message and slowdown. An issue where the Glitch challenge could be played twice resulting in players being unable to complete one later has been addressed, and where cubes will no longer appear in the opening cinematic. POIs will no longer disappear, characters should no longer appear blurry in Photo Mode when the camera is close, and the game should stop freezing during the grind rail tutorial. Plenty of issues were addressed with the patch and you can read the entire set of notes below.

 

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0.6
Windows 11 Features a New File Transfer Progress Indicator You Could Easily Miss

Windows 11 has already landed in the Windows Insider program, and while some big features like support for Android apps and the Microsoft Teams integration are currently missing, there are several smaller ones that users gradually discover as they install this early build. For example, Microsoft has added a little yet neat file transfer progress indicator right in the address bar, thus making it easier to figure out when a transfer is supposed to complete. If you’ve used Windows before, you certainly know this isn’t a new feature, though the previous operating system used a different approach, as the taskbar icon was filled with a green pattern as the transfer progressed. But in the case of Windows 11, Microsoft is going for a more modern approach, so there’s now a small progress bar placed right below the icon, as you can see in the screenshot here. But while this new feature is without a doubt a nice little modern touch, the file transfer dialog still uses the design that was introduced by Microsoft back in the Windows Vista days. The corners are indeed rounded, as per the new Windows 11 design approach, but other than that, the dialog uses the same design that was available in Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10. Whether or not Microsoft plans to change this design is something that remains to be seen, as the company could further polish the experience with Windows 11 by the time the operating system sees daylight later this year. Microsoft hasn’t shared any specifics on the ETA of Windows 11, but there’s a good chance the new OS lands for production devices in October. It will be offered as a free upgrade to certain eligible devices already running Windows 10.

 

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0.3
What Is Clubhouse? The Invite-Only Chat App Explained

(Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images) Wondering why you're hearing a lot about Clubhouse lately? Much like the "Gamestonk" controversy, we can partially blame Elon Musk. By popping up in a Clubhouse room in January, the world's richest man (for now) brought the service a lot of attention. Bill Gates did the same, and it has steamrolled since then. Here's what you need to know about the exclusive chat app everyone is talking about. Okay, so what is it? Here's the gist: Imagine you have an app on your phone that lets you listen in on other people's live conversations. But not in a creepy way; these people want to be heard. They may even be famous, or at least interesting or knowledgeable (no guarantee, however). And you may be given the opportunity to join the chat. Think of it as an audio-chat social network. Or as PCMag's Jordan Minor says in our review, "What if Twitter was a podcast you lived inside of?" When did it launch? Clubhouse launched (along with COVID in the US!) in March 2020. It became a big deal to a select few in part because of its invite-only exclusivity, much like a real-world club membership. In those early days, it was a tiny community, mainly consisting of venture capitalists. After all, the company behind Clubhouse—Alpha Exploration Co.—received a $12 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz after two months of existence. It was quickly worth $100 million —and it only had 1,500 users at the time. (Valuation for Clubhouse as of April 2021: $4 billion .) So there are no pictures or videos? No. Only profile pics for each user. Photo by Christoph Dernbach/picture alliance via Getty Images Where can I get the Clubhouse app? Clubhouse is currently available on iOS and Android. It launched on iOS last year, and the company started a US-only Android rollout in early May. It is now available on Android worldwide. Downloads of the Android version crossed 1 million in less than two weeks. Can I use Clubhouse on the iPad? Sure, but it's not optimized for iPadOS. So you'll be using the app in a small window, or looking at it in a weird, zoomed-in 2x size. It should be okay on an Android tablet, however. Cool, so I can just sign up, right? Nope. At the time of this writing, you still need an invitation from an existing Clubhouse user to get access. Every new user gets two invites, and they earn more as they use the app. Ask your friends if they have one. You could buy an invite on eBay or try a "pay-it-forward" invite chains, but be wary of invite scams. Credit: AppFigures Why did it take so long to make an Android app? The developers wanted to scale up slowly. There are more Android users than iPhone users worldwide. Starting on Android might have killed the Clubhouse servers after a publicity stunt (like, say, having Musk in a room). Still, hitting 3 million users in the short time it did on iOS alone—see the chart above —is a lot of growth. (One million downloads on Android doesn't necessarily equate to one million new users.) Clubhouse for Android Naturally, there are scumbags who will take advantage of this growth and popularity. A fake website at joinclubhouse[.]mobi circulated a Trojan program pretending to be Clubhouse for Android. It tried to steal your login credentials for almost 500 online services. Be very wary. The barebones joinclubhouse.com. So all I need is the app? There's no website? The only website the company has is joinclubhouse.com, and it's simply a pointer to the Apple App Store and Google Play. (Don’t confuse this service with clubhouse.io, either. That's a project manager.) The app is the only way to listen to or participate in audio conversations. Image via Alexander Shatov on Unsplash What's with the app icon? Clubhouse doesn't have an official logo icon. It has opted for an ever-rotating black-and-white portrait of a person as its icon that appears on a smartphone screen. Each person is a real-life user of Clubhouse. Usually, it's someone who has had an important impact on the platform, or is at least someone Clubhouse believes has a deep understanding of what it is doing. Each icon lasts a few weeks and gets changed with a major app update. Some have praised Clubhouse for this design choice as breaking up the monotony, but others think it just makes it hard to find the app on your phone when the icon changes. To date, Clubhouse is on its eighth iconic person—social activist and visual artist Drue Kataoka. Previous icons include musicians Axel Mansoor and Bomani X (pictured above), startup promoter Erika Batista, and tech podcaster Espree Devora. How much of my data does Clubhouse want for registration? You have to give Clubhouse your phone number and your real name (in theory). You can register the eventual username you want for the service before you even get an invite. The person inviting you simply needs your phone number. You'll get a link via SMS text, telling you to visit joinclubhouse.com/app and sign in with that number. Link your Twitter account to Clubhouse if you don't want to set up a profile from scratch; it'll even pull in your existing Twitter profile pic. Clubhouse also pushes you to link your contacts, in the name of making it easier to find people to follow. Don't bother if you don't have a contact list full of influencers. Once you're logged in, verify your email address with the service so you have it as a method for reconnecting if there's an issue. Clubhouse topics What am I supposed to listen to on Clubhouse? When you finally get access, the app offers a page full of conversational topics to follow, from sports to tech to world affairs to faith to "hustle" and on and on. In each, you'll find people interested in the same thing, and you can follow them. The more topics and people you follow, the more likely you are to get suggestions for a room that fits your desires. The conversations aren't permanent? Conversation rooms come and go as people launch or end them. Clubhouse says it records conversations as they happen, but only retains them if someone files a complaint while the room is live. If no one reports an incident during the chat, Clubhouse says it discards the recording as soon as the host closes the discussion. Users, of course, are finding many ways to record chats for their own purposes. The internet is still forever. How many people can be in a conversation? The current limit is 5,000 people per Clubhouse room—which Musk busted through, of course. Users in that room started live-streaming the conversation on YouTube (which is a clever workaround for recording what's said). That 5K person limit can be turned off, however, at Clubhouse's discretion. What do you really mean by a conversation? Isn't it like a podcast? It depends on your podcast preferences, but remember—all the people involved are speaking via their iPhones, not fancy audio setups. They don't see each other, so it really is like listening in on a phone call. There's no professional editing, no sound effects, no transitions, and no advertising (at least not officially). That said, the "style" of the conversation is flexible: one room might be a casual one-on-one between friends, while another is a more formal talk-show-style interview, a big group discussion, or even a music-sharing session. If someone interesting drops into a room—like a billionaire—the room creator/moderator can put them on the "stage" as a speaker. So I can only listen in? Not necessarily. Anyone listening in can virtually "raise a hand." It's up to the room's creator/moderator if they want to let you talk. So, is this really like 'Medium for Podcasts?' To the extent that it lets anyone create a room on the fly, without any promise of future conversations, it is. Unlike Medium, there's no official record of it. The conversations, AKA "clubs," are not recorded or stored for future listeners. Sounds more like Zoom without video. In some ways, sure...or you could always do a Zoom or Google Meet without the video on. But Zoom meetings aren't open to the general public by default. Clubs are open to any member who can find it, not a select few. The virtual dais is limited, which hopefully gives the floor to people with something important or interesting to say. Also, not having to look at the screen while you're talking is a nice change from today's daily video calls. Can I make money? Yes. Clubhouse has rolled out a monetization scheme for creators on iOS in the US to start, in partnership with payment processing firm Stripe. It's not ad-based. Users can send an in-app payment to creators, and 100% of the money goes to them, with a processing fee going to Stripe; Clubhouse says it isn't skimming any of the dough. The company had also launched a Creator First accelerator program to help the people really driving the traffic, providing everything from equipment to special guests to promotion. A winner will be announced soon. Any Clubhouse user (also still on iOS in the US still) can send or receive payments. Find it in the app under your profile, then click the gear icon to enter Settings > Payments. It also requires a Stripe account. Who's really using Clubhouse? Right now, Clubhouse is arguably best for people who like to talk and miss having an audience—like needy celebrities—or lurkers who want to be the fly-on-the-wall near interesting conversations. It may be a new medium we all have to keep an eye on ( or not). That said, it's also being hailed as a possible place for healing rifts, as evidenced by the room named Meet Palestinians and Israelis Meet Palestinians and Israelis, where people from both sides of that conflict, from around the world, are coming together to talk. Wait, wait wait. There are celebrities? Yeah, Kevin Hart, Drake, Tiffany Haddish, and a handful of others are using it. In fact, the app is becoming popular in the Black entertainment community, in particular. Haddish was the first person to break 1 million followers on Clubhouse. But that may play into the "pretentious, clout-chasing atmosphere" we noted in our review. I feel like I can do this somewhere else... Clubhouse knock-offs—I mean competitors—are already rolling out. Because, like everything else in tech, when there's blood in the water, the big sharks come swimming. (Remember when everyone wanted to be TikTok?) Here's a quick list. Shark Tank 's Mark Cuban, an early Clubhouse user, is involved in one called Fireside Fireside, a sort-of mix of Clubhouse and Spotify's podcast software, Anchor. Twitter's Spaces is now open to anyone with 600 or more followers; select users will get access soon to the monetized Ticketed Spaces option. The Telegram messaging app now has a Voice Chat feature, with recording integrated. Users can seamlessly transfer the meeting into a video group chat with up to 30 people. Instagram has already improved its group live-streaming feature called Live Rooms to allow more than two users to stream together (but with video). Reddit has a sneak peek of Reddit Talk, for hosting live audio conversations in a community. Spotify has launched Greenroom, based on tech it acquired with Betty Labs. It runs on iOS and Android, and offers a live audio experience geared toward music. Anyone can host or participate. This one supports recording. Slack has introduced Huddles as a new "lightweight audio-first way to start live conversations." Meaning it's a quick way to start an online phone call with your co-workers, so it's not really a Clubhouse competitor since the audio isn't public. It's more Clubhouse-adjacent. Of course, Facebook refuses to be left out. It is launching a bunch of audio tools for the creation of Soundbites for posting, podcasts, and of course, Live Audio Rooms —its answer to Clubhouse. (Facebook also has a thing called Hotline to do recorded public conversations with video options, much like Instagram Live Rooms.) It'll only get worse. GetHostNotes.com allows easy setup and sharing of Clubhouse events. Are third parties making any Clubhouse add-ons? Yes, but it's not easy as there's no application programming interface (API) for developers to actually tie things into the Clubhouse experience. For example, Direcon wants to help you with analytics for Clubhouse conversations (for $50 per month) but initially, that meant a little too much exposure to user info. There are a few other tools like soundboards (every conversation benefits from sound effects), a Telegram-based conversation recorder, audience Q&A boards, Clubhouse-specific link shorteners, and a bunch of apps for adding a ring of color on your Clubhouse avatar. This all shows that Clubhouse needs to decide soon about an API. What are the downsides of Clubhouse? The service has had some issues already with hate speech and abuse, so it had to institute community moderation guidelines in October. It made a common mistake—believing it could trust users to not be jerks. There are always jerks. It's been blocked in China as of February 8, 2021, as it offers a little too much freedom of expression for the government there. That's only a downside if you live in China. Also bad: the service has already suffered a data breach after a third-party developer in China tried to create an Android version of Clubhouse that wouldn't require an invite. Privacy could also be a problem. As Inc.com reports, Clubhouse doesn't spell out how long it retains those complaint-related recordings ("when the investigation is complete," is all it says), or who at the company has access to them. Clubhouse is also scooping up other info about you, not only from what you share (your contacts and social media) but what others share (their contacts and social media). It's always tracking you with all the usual tricks, like cookies. What if I want to quit this club? Previously, you had to email "support@alphaexplorationco.com" to ditch Clubhouse, but following user complaints, you can now deactivate your account by going to Settings > Account > Deactivate Account .

 

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0.5
Five tips for optimizing your IT team's time

Today, IT teams are short-staffed and overworked like never before. And COVID-19 has made IT professionals busier than ever, with record numbers of people working from home and using more technology resources from remote locations. This can lead to additional projects and even more support issues. IT teams are constantly juggling between day-to-day maintenance activities and more strategic, long-term projects that can drive innovation and have a positive impact on an organization. In theory, it would be ideal to have 70 percent of a team’s time spent on strategic projects and 30 percent spent on daily maintenance tasks. In reality, the opposite numbers are probably true. So, how can you shift that dynamic and get more time spent on strategic, high-impact projects, rather than all the maintenance work? Here are five tips for improving your IT team’s efficiency and optimizing their time. 1. Get a Better Understanding of Your Existing IT Assets According to the Cloud Security Alliance, the average enterprise has 464 custom applications deployed, but IT security professionals are only aware of 38.4 percent of them. If you don’t know what’s in your IT infrastructure, both on-premises and in the cloud, then you don’t have a clear understanding of your IT spend. It’s important to take a detailed inventory of applications, databases, services and systems across your entire enterprise IT environment. Once you know what you really have, then you can effectively analyze the viability of each asset and its costs. 2. Figure Out Where Your Team (Really) Spends its Time In addition to knowing what your IT assets are, it’s also important to know where your IT team is really spending its time. As mentioned earlier, an ideal target is spending 70 percent of IT staff time on strategic projects, with 30 percent on maintenance. But the opposite is all too often the case. Why is there such a disconnect? IT executives don’t realize the gap because no one is closely tracking IT staff time. One key step to fixing this issue is to use a ticketing system. This way you know how your IT team is spending their time and can identify issues or tasks that may be distracting them away from other priorities. It’s also important to enforce that usage with end users. While they may want to avoid the ticketing process -- and directly contact someone in IT for help -- this system is important because it can track every interaction and give a more accurate view into how much time a project truly took to complete. The results are often surprising. With better visibility, you can start making changes to optimize team efficiency, which will help reduce costs. 3. Outsource Routine Tasks Using the steps above, you may be on your way to a more efficient, cost-effective team already, but the overall volume of run-rate IT maintenance activities may still be too high for your staff to handle. In this situation, it may be time to consider outsourcing a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Look to outsource those routine tasks that are repeatable, well understood and well-defined by the business, and you know what the outcomes are going to be. This can free up your team’s time to focus on higher-value, strategic projects that deliver value to the business. 4. Leverage Automation and the Cloud You may expect that moving your IT systems to the cloud will provide better efficiency, scale and flexibility -- but the reality is that your organization might not be taking full advantage of the cloud if your IT team is still using legacy processes that are highly manual, inefficient and prone to error. All too often companies move workloads "as is" without taking time to consider cloud optimization tools and DevOps practices that can help automate manual tasks, accelerate the release of new products and services, and scale infrastructure on-demand with a truly hands-off approach. If you don’t have this expertise on your team, consider working with cloud consulting experts to help you get the most out of the cloud and introduce automation. 5. Adjust Staffing Models for the Right Combination of Skills Digital transformation has driven a trend towards specialization among IT professionals. Those with newer, specialized skills for building environments with the latest cloud tools are in high demand but are also hard to find. Consider building a staffing model that allows you to combine the right combination of skills to accomplish your goals. For instance, internal teams are domain experts in the business. They understand the requirements and workflows, proprietary technologies and how cloud platforms map to systems and processes. However, as demands change or specialized skills are needed, an MSP can come in to help design, build and execute on the internal team’s vision. In this way, you create a staffing model that leverages the knowledge of internal teams but enables you to scale dynamically -- only bringing in (and incurring costs for) expertise and support when needed. Photo Credit: Kar / Shutterstock Steve Woodgate is the Senior Vice President of Professional Services for Navisite. In this role, Steve leads Navisite’s professional services team, delivering world-class IT consulting, implementation and cloud solutions that deliver business value to clients. Navisite is a modern managed cloud service provider that accelerates digital transformation for thousands of growing and global brands. Learn more at www.navisite.com .

 

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1.3
Netflix’s America: The Motion Picture fails at just about everything

2004’s Team America: World Police was a scathing parody of American action movies, but also a legitimately excellent version of the genre’s tropes at work. While ridiculing the concept of American exceptionalism, writers Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Pam Brady managed to actually defend America’s role as the biggest dicks in a world filled with assholes.

 

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0.0
Loki episode 4 recap: the best one yet?

Spoilers for the first four episodes of Loki follow. Watch them first before reading this, and don't miss the Loki episode 4 post-credits scene. Once upon a time, it was easy to tell the comic book superheroes from the villains they thwarted. Sure, the good guys usually had some minor flaws to deal with, but there was never any question that the likes of Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and their counterparts fought on the side of the angels. In recent years, however, the lines between good and bad have become more blurred – Batman overstepping numerous moral boundaries in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy; Iron Man and Captain America becoming enemies in Civil War – but you could still (nearly) always tell them apart. Loki is different. The late, great Obi-Wan Kenobi once said that “many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view,” and ‘The Nexus Event’ feels like it’s been built around that principle. It’s the culmination of four episodes where almost every major character has flirted with being hero and villain, sometimes even in the same scene. It’s also fun and clever, and comes with some killer twists at the end – but more on that later… One of the fundamental ideas behind Loki’s fourth outing is that one small piece of information can completely alter the way you view a character. Indeed, while on one level the episode’s title refers to a key scene on Lamentis-1, it’s also a handy catch-all term for a succession of life-changing revelations. Last week’s bombshell that every TVA agent is a Variant plucked out of their own timeline proves particularly pivotal. For the no-nonsense Hunter B-15, it means a glimpse at an existence where she was “happy” and reason to question everything she takes for granted. In the case of the unfortunate Hunter C-20, meanwhile, impact is more tragic, as we gradually learn that her knowledge of a past life frightened the TVA management so much that they had her eliminated. For Sylvie herself, the perception shift comes courtesy of a flashback to her childhood on Asgard. As soon as we learn she was abducted from her home as a kid (by Ravonna Renslayer, no less), she instantly shifts from antagonist to victim. Subsequent revelations that she spent her childhood on the run, growing up leaping from apocalypse to apocalypse, humanize her further, making sure you sympathize with her mission to take down the TVA 100 per cent. Now we’ve established they’re (probably) on the same side, Loki and Sylvie’s relationship has moved to another level – there’s even a hint of unlikely romance. This is undeniably weird, yet feels appropriate for a character as unashamedly narcissistic as the god of mischief – who else could win a Loki’s heart but a Loki? When their shared ‘moment’ on the doomed world of Lamentis-1 creates the eponymous Nexus Event that allows the TVA to find them, the episode skirts perilously close to the ‘love is a powerful force’ trope that’s become a sci-fi cliché everywhere from Interstellar to Doctor Who. It works here, however, because it’s played for laughs, the writing team totally embracing the ridiculousness of the situation. Kudos also to the underplayed nature of their rescue. But the real star of the episode is undoubtedly Owen Wilson’s Mobius. Seeing him verbally sparring with Loki once again, you realize just how much episode 3 missed the TVA’s biggest jet-ski aficionado – there’s no question his relationship with the god of mischief is now one of Marvel’s greatest double-acts. Initially hurt by Loki’s betrayal at the Roxxcart superstore (“You’re just kind of an asshole, and a bad friend”), Mobius quickly turns the tables by throwing the Asgardian into an ingenious Groundhog Day-inspired prison, where he’s forced to relive an awkward moment with Lady Sif again and again and again – a fun surprise cameo from Jaimie Alexander, reprising her role from the Thor movies. What this big reveal means for the show – and the MCU as a whole – is anyone’s guess, but it’s an intriguing twist in a series that’s proved masterful at giving you key information at exactly the right time. And if Loki survived his own pruning, maybe there’s hope that his new pal Mobius is still out there too… But as Mobius gradually starts to process Loki’s claims about the TVA’s questionable recruitment policies, he turns detective. What really happened to C-20? Why does Sylvie “scare the hell” out of Renslayer? And why do the Time-Keepers want to witness Sylvie’s “pruning” for themselves? We eventually see a new side to the lifelong company man, as he steals his boss’s TemPad, and decides to join Team Loki. Unfortunately for Mobius, we don’t get to find out if the alliance could have grown into a beautiful friendship, thanks to his Renslayer-sanctioned pruning in the series’ biggest shock moment so far. He didn’t even stick around long enough to see B-15 turn hero by freeing Loki and Sylvie, or witness the MCU’s answer to the ‘what’s behind the curtain?’ reveal in The Wizard of Oz when the Time-Keepers turn out to be robot fakes. He also missed Loki being vaporized in an epic final battle. If there’s one thing the MCU has taught us, however, it’s that a Loki rarely stays dead for long. Here it’s mere minutes before his survival is confirmed, as a surprise scene in the closing credits shows him on the surface of a new world, face-to-face with three (maybe four…) alternative Loki Variants. “Is this Hel? Am I dead?” he asks. “Not yet. But you will be unless you come with us,” comes the cryptic reply from a man dressed like the comic book version of Loki. Verdict: After episode 3 attracted entirely justified comparisons with Doctor Who, this week’s instalment of Loki shifts gears once again, ensuring that the most predictable thing about the show is its unpredictability. While early episodes established Sylvie as the villain of the piece, the title of ‘antagonist in chief’ now seemingly belongs to Ravonna Renslayer – especially now the Time-Keepers have been revealed as a sham. The question is, is she working alone, or is some higher power pulling the strings? If so, how much will Renslayer divulge to Sylvie? Just like WandaVision earlier this year, Loki revels in making you question what you think you know about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, its rules may be shifting before our very eyes as episode 4 takes the show in a whole new direction. “I think episodes 4 and 5 [are my favorites],” star Tom Hiddleston told theoriesbyt . “The two of them together, the whole series takes off in a direction that I certainly didn’t see coming when I read it, and I’m really excited for the audience to see it. That’s where we just expand into new territory.” We can’t wait to find out what he means… New episodes of Loki debut on Disney Plus every Wednesday.

 

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0.5
Sideshow's Dracula and Van Helsing Figures Are Delightfully Frightful

Hammer Horror’s 1958 classic Dracula, also known as Horror of Dracula, has inspired a pair of strikingly realistic, highly detailed figures soon to join Sideshow’s Horror Collectibles line. Which dynamic duo? Creature of the night Count Dracula and his greatest foe, Doctor Van Helsing, of course. io9 is thrilled to share an exclusive first look at both. First up, the Dracula figure stands 22.25” tall, atop a “stone-effect base bedecked with Gothic gargoyles,” according to Sideshow. His likeness, of course, is that of iconic actor Sir Christopher Lee, with the vampire’s trademark eyes, fangs, instantly recognizable hairline, and a bit of dripping blood for extra pizazz. His swanky outfit is made of tailored fabric, complete with his classic black suit and accessories of choice: a luxurious, red-lined cape and hypnotic signet ring. As for Van Helsing, he’s 21.5" tall, also posing with gargoyles, and the very image of the great Peter Cushing. According to Sideshow, “this statue captures his character’s determined and fearless expression as he summons his resolve and prepares to confront his nemesis, the fiendish Count Dracula.” He’s also got a black suit paired with a red vest, faux fur-trimmed coat, leather-like gloves, and three things he’d never leave home without: a crucifix, a wooden stake, and a hammer. Check out the gallery below for images of both! Horror of Dracula —so titled for its U. S. release, to avoid confusion with the 1931 Dracula starring Béla Lugosi—was Hammer’s first Dracula movie to star Christopher Lee as the infamous vampire (he’d go on to play the role a total of 10 times, including in seven Hammer movies). Cushing first co-starred with Lee in Hammer’s 1957 The Curse of Frankenstein, and their pairing the next year in Dracula further cemented the chemistry between the two horror legends, who ended up appearing in over 20 movies together (including monster-on-a-train classic Horror Express). Both figures—sold separately, but man they look good together—are available for pre-order (RSVP to get more information on Dracula here; Van Helsing here), with more details from Sideshow (including the shipping dates and prices) coming soon. Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

 

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0.4
Graphcore brings new competition to Nvidia in latest MLPerf AI benchmarks

MLPerf, the benchmark suite of tests for how long it takes to train a computer to perform machine learning tasks, has a new contender with the release Wednesday of results showing Graphcore, the Bristol, U. K.-based startup, notching respectable times versus the two consistent heavyweights, Nvidia and Google. Graphcore, which was founded five years ago and has $710 million in financing, didn't take the top score in any of the MLPerf tests, but it reported results that are significant when compared with the other two in terms of number of chips used. Moreover, when leaving aside Google's submission, which isn't commercially available, Graphcore was the only competitor to enter into the top five commercially available results alongside Nvidia. "It's called the democratization of AI," said Matt Fyles, the head of software for Graphcore, in a press briefing. Companies that want to use AI, he said, "can get a very respectable result as an alternative to Nvidia, and it only gets better over time, we'll keep pushing our system." "Nvidia are what we're going after," he said. "We have to be that alternative to Nvidia." The MLPerf test suite is the creation of the MLCommons, an industry consortium that issues multiple annual benchmark evaluations of computers for the two parts of machine learning, so-called training, where a neural network is built by having its settings refined in multiple experiments; and so-called inference, where the finished neural network makes predictions as it receives new data. The results released Wednesday were for training. Graphcore had previously been among a group of startups in AI that includes Cerebras Systems and SambaNova Systems who were refuseniks, sitting out the benchmarks, claiming it was not worth the effort. Cerebras co-founder and CEO, Andrew Feldman, famously told ZDNet in 2019 that the company "did not spend one minute working on MLPerf." Also: To measure ultra-low power AI, MLPerf gets a TinyML benchmark For Graphcore, the test has finally become too important to ignore. "We were a little reluctant to contribute," said Fyles. But, he said, the company realized "we have to come out, we have to show our second generation is competitive and plays in all the rules and boxes and spaces as others play in," said Fyles, referring to the company's Mk2 version of its Intelligence Processing Unit chip, or IPU, that is the alternative to Nvidia's GPU. Also: Cerebras did not spend one minute working on MLPerf, says CEO "Customers ask us for a comparison to Nvidia, they don't ask us for a comparison to anyone else," said Fyles. Indeed, the entire benchmark suite of MLPerf stems from a basic unit of comparison that could be called An Nvidia, just like a meter or a Kelvin. The benchmark tasks that the contestants run are selected as those tasks which would take, on average, a week to train on one of Nvidia's older V100 GPUs. The results are a bit of a David and Goliath situation, as Graphcore trailed gigantic, supercomputer-sized systems from both Nvidia and Google that make use of thousands of chips. Such systems show the absolute bleeding edge in speed that can be achieved by engineered computers from the dominant vendors. For example, to train the BERT natural language model, a neural network that produces human-like text, the top result took Google's "TPU" chip only 17 seconds to train the program to proficiency. Nvidia's top machine took nineteen seconds. Less time is better, in this benchmark. At twelve minutes, Graphcore was well down the list. However, the Graphcore system was composed of only two AMD EPYC processors and 64 of Graphcore's IPU chips. Google's two machines were composed of 3,456 of its TPUs plus 1,728 of AMD's EPYC processors, for one, and 2,048 TPUs and 1,024 EPYCs in another. Nvidia's top results used 4,096 of its latest GPU, the A100, and 1,024 EPYCs in one system, and 1,024 A100s and 256 EPYCs in another. (All machines with special-purpose accelerators also come with a host microprocessor, which is responsible for a variety of things such as dispatching machine learning tasks to the accelerators.) Graphcore's BERT score was the fastest time for a two-processor AMD system, with the next-closest competitor, an Nvidia-based system, taking a full twenty-one minutes, though that system used only 8 of Nvidia's A100 chips. That fact that Graphcore's system gets by with not just fewer IPU chips but also fewer AMD host processors is meaningful to the company. Graphcore has emphasized that its IPU chip can scale independent of the number of host microprocessors, to place the horsepower where it's needed. In a separate version of the BERT benchmark, known as the "Open" submissions, where submitters are allowed to tweak their software code to produce non-standard implementations of the neural network, Graphcore was able to reduce its training time on BERT to just over nine minutes. Similarly, on an image recognition test called ImageNet, using the standard ResNet-50 neural network, the Graphcore system came in fourth, taking 14.5 minutes to train the system, versus the top-place result of 40 seconds for the Nvidia computer. But the Graphcore machine relied on only 8 AMD CPUs and 64 of Graphcore's IPUs, versus 620 AMD chips and 2,480 of Nvidia's A100 parts. The competition from Graphcore is made more interesting by the fact that Graphcore's system is currently shipping, the only processor architecture other than the Nvidia systems that is actually for sale. Google's TPU machines are a "preview" of forthcoming technology. Another set of submissions that took top marks on BERT and ImageNet, from the scientific research institute Peng Cheng Laboratory, in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, is considered a research project, and is not actually available. Graphcore emphasized to reporters the economic advantage of having respectable results even if they are not the absolute fastest. The company compared the cost of its IPU-POD16, at $149,995 based on one quote, to what it estimates to be the $299,000 of the closest comparable Nvidia submission, an eight-GPU system called a DGX A100. The Nvidia system scored better on BERT than the IPU system, roughly 21 minutes versus 34 minutes for Graphcore, but to Graphcore, the economic advantage far outweighs the time difference. "These are systems that are now delivering a much better cost at a very high performance," said Fyles. "When we get to our scale-up submissions we will get to some of these very low numbers," referring to the top scores Graphcore's largest system at the moment, the IPU-POD64, is composed of 64 separate accelerator chips. The company plans to offer models with 128 and 256 chips this year. The company expects to make those larger systems part of its entries in future. Fyles noted the IPU-POD can have as many as 64,000 IPU chips. For the moment, "We can bring more accelerators in the same price you pay for a DGXA100, that's our message," said Graphcore's Fyles. The company characterizes that economic equation as a "time to train performance per dollar," arguing it is 1.3x what a person gets with the DGX. However, Nvidia told ZDNet Graphcore is "cherry picking" its comparisons. "It's not true," said Paresh Kharya, Nvidia senior director of product management and marketing, regarding Graphcore's economic comparison. The company pointed to a comparable 8-way A100 system, also with two AMD chips, from Supermicro, that costs only $125,000, but that scored better than the Graphcore IPU-POD16 on both ResNet-50 and BERT. Cost can vary quite a bit across the numerous DGX vendors, Kharya points out. "This is really a case of apples and oranges," he said of Graphcore. "They are comparing a 16-chip system to our 8-chip system, and even with their 16 chips, they are still slower." Nvidia, Kharya added, has the advantage of having performance across all eight tests on the MLPerf benchmark, an indication of the breadth of applicability of the machine. "Customers are not just deploying the infrastructure to do one thing, BERT and ResNet-50; they are deploying to run their infrastructure for five years," said Kharya. "ROI comes from a few things, the ability to run many different things, to have high utilization, and to have the software being highly productive." "If you can only run a couple of things, you have to price it lower to entice customers to buy," he said. For Nvidia, the benchmarks confirm a solid lead in the absolute fastest times for commercially available systems. The company noted its speed-up across all eight tasks of MLPerf, emphasizing what it calls the "relative per-chip performance at scale" when the scores of all submissions are divided by the number of chips used. Nvidia's gains build upon not just gigantic GPU chips such as A100, but many years of refining its software capabilities. Several techniques were highlighted in the benchmark performance, including software that Nvidia wrote for distributing tasks efficiently among chips, such as CUDA Graphs and SHARP. Graphcore has made progress with its own software, Poplar, as shown in the Open results submitted, though the software platform is still many years younger than Nvidia's, as is the case for all the startups. For Google, the ultimate bragging rights come in having "continued performance leadership," as the company's Google Cloud researchers phrased it in a blog post. Google's preview of its TPU version 4 claimed the top results in four of the six tests for which Google competed. As with Graphcore, Google focused its comparison on Nvidia's results. Also: Chip industry is going to need a lot more software to catch Nvidia's lead in AI The battle will continue this year with more benchmark results, as Graphcore plans to go once more into the breach in the other part of MLPerf, inference, said Fyles. Aside from Graphcore's entry, the latest MLPerf work is noteworthy on several other fronts. The test added two new tests, one for speech-to-text tasks, based on the LibriSpeech data set developed in 2015 at Johns Hopkins University, using the widely deployed RNN-T neural network model; and one for what's called image segmentation, picking out the objects in a picture, based on the KiTS19 data set for tumor detection in CT scans, developed last year at the University of Minnesota, Carleton College, and the University of North Dakota. The test suite also dropped two previous tests, GNMT and Transformer, replacing them with a similar natural language task, Google's BERT. The new benchmark suite also added seven new submitters, and reported 650 individual results, versus the 138 reported last year. Also: Nvidia and Google claim bragging rights in MLPerf benchmarks as AI computers get bigger and bigger MLCommons chairman David Kanter said the benchmark suite is a "barometer for the whole industry," calling it "more exciting than Moore's Law," the historical measure of transistor improvement. "You can see that since the start of MLPerf training, we've managed to boost performance, at the high side, by 27 times," said Kanter. Accuracy has also gone up at the same time, said Kanter. "It's important to think about these not just as technical problems but as things that affect people's real lives," said Victor Bittorf, who serves as the chair of the ML Commons working group on ML training. There appears to be a trend of companies and institutions using the MLPerf suite in their purchase decisions. Nvidia cited Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world's biggest contract chip manufacturer, saying the tests are "an important factor in our decision making" when purchasing computers to run AI to use in chip making. Although the tests are representative, there is an important divide between the benchmarks and the real-world implementations, according to Nvidia's Kharya, Real-world implementations use supercomputers, were the size of small models such as the benchmark ResNet-50 would be trivial. Instead, those supercomputers are crunching neural networks with a trillion parameters or more, and still take days or weeks to train. "Scale is really important," said Kharya. "We can train BERT in less than a minute on Selene," the supercomputer built with Intel's A100 GPUs and AMD EYPC microprocessors. "But it would take over two weeks to train a GPT-3 model, even on Selene," said Kharya, referring to the state-of-the-art language model from startup Open-AI. Also: What is GPT-3? Everything your business needs to know about OpenAI's breakthrough AI language program Kharya's point was that Nvidia's performance gains will be amplified in the real world. A speed-up of three times in the performance of its GPUs on the small BERT model used in MLPerf, he said, will translate to a three-times speed-up in projects that take weeks to months to train. That means Nvidia's progress can bring substantial reductions in the biggest training projects, he said. "A difference of one minute versus one hour would look like a lot more in the real world," said Kharya. The MLCommons in November debuted a separate set of benchmark tests for high-performance computing, or HPC, systems running the machine learning tasks. Also: As AI pops up in more and more scientific computing, a new time test measures how fast a neural net can be trained Such grand scale is really where Graphcore and Cerebras and the rest are setting their sights. "There's this whole space where very big companies are looking at very big language models," observed Graphcore's Fyles. "That will transition to other very large models where different types of models are combined, such as a mixture of experts." For the startups, including Graphcore, the implicit hope is that such complex tasks will ultimately take them beyond merely competing on benchmarks with Nvidia, instead changing the paradigms in AI to their own advantage. "If we just have a GPU model, if all we're doing is running GPU models, that's all we'll do, is compete with a GPU," said Fyles. "We are working with labs to get them to look at the IPU for a variety of uses, as more than simply in comparison to Nvidia."

 

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1.4
Piral, a Modern Microfrontends Library

A round-up of last week’s content on InfoQ sent out every Tuesday. Join a community of over 250,000 senior developers. View an example We protect your privacy. A round-up of last week’s content on InfoQ sent out every Tuesday. Join a community of over 250,000 senior developers. View an example We protect your privacy.

 

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0.1
Microsoft Releases Emergency Windows 10 Cumulative Update KB5004760

Microsoft has released an out-of-band cumulative updates for the latest stable versions of Windows 10, as the company wanted to quickly address a bug hitting PDF documents. More specifically, the new Windows 10 cumulative update is KB5004760, and it is pushed to devices running Windows 10 version 2004,20H2, and 21H1. In other words, the three most recent stable versions of Windows 10 are getting this cumulative update, and needless to say, given it’s an out-of-band release, users are recommended to install it as soon as possible. According to the official changelog provided by Microsoft, this cumulative update resolves a glitch making it impossible to open PDF documents on Windows 10 devices. “Addresses an issue that might prevent you from opening PDFs using Internet Explorer 11 or apps that use the 64-bit version of the WebBrowser control. Additionally, a PDF might render as just a gray background when using the Adobe Acrobat plug-in,” Microsoft explains. There are no new known issues in this cumulative update, aside from the ones already acknowledged in the previous releases for the aforementioned Windows 10 versions. One of them concerns the Microsoft Japanese IME, which the company says may not get the Furigana characters, while the second is tied to Microsoft Edge Legacy, the original Windows 10 browser that has already been ditched. “Devices with Windows installations created from custom offline media or custom ISO image might have Microsoft Edge Legacy removed by this update, but not automatically replaced by the new Microsoft Edge. This issue is only encountered when custom offline media or ISO images are created by slipstreaming this update into the image without having first installed the standalone servicing stack update (SSU) released March 29, 2021 or later,” Microsoft says. The new cumulative update can be downloaded from the Microsoft Update Catalog here.

 

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0.3
Fans Believe Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2 Will Be Announced At EA Play Live 2021

The much-anticipated Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2 might be getting officially announced next month, or so do fans believe. Taking to Twitter earlier today, publisher Electronic Arts (EA) beckoned players to head back into Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order which will be enjoying its two-year anniversary in November 2021. The tweet was not even original since EA was simply echoing the sentiments of an opinion piece published by Game Informer a few days back. The tweet however was enough for fans to start raising their expectations of EA formally announcing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2 at EA Play Live next month. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2 has been believed to be in development since the first game was launched to a stellar reception. Several job listings from developer Respawn Entertainment have further hinted the sequel to be in development. EA has also not been shy about calling Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as the start of a franchise during its earnings calls. The game was released in November 2019 and sold more than 8 million copies by January 2020 and more than 8 million copies by March 2020. EA noted that sales exceeded its expectations and hence, it would only be normal to pursue the franchise with a sequel. It needs to be also recalled that multiple reports in 2020 confirmed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2 to be in the works at Respawn Entertainment and which will continue the narrative from where the first one left off. If these reports and rumors (as well as speculations) are to be believed, Jedi: Fallen Order 2 has been slated for a release around the 2022 holiday season. That would give the sequel around three years of development time, which is what Respawn Entertainment took for both of its Titanfall games.

 

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0.3
AOC Agon AGM700 Gaming Mouse

Monitor manufacturer AOC is getting into the gaming peripheral business, starting with a line of mice and keyboards. The more expensive and feature-rich of its first two mice, the Agon AGM700 ($39.99), is a classic first-person shooter (FPS) mouse. It has some of the specialty features you’d expect to find on a flagship mouse, such as customizable weight-tuning and a bright red sniper button, for a budget price that’s generally reserved for no-frills esports mice. But though it looks like a diamond in the rough, some notable flaws keep AOC’s debut from shining. Push-to-Headshot The Agon AGM700 is a right-handed eight-button mouse. On top are two click panels and a scroll wheel, plus two buttons in the center column: one for cycling through DPI presets, and one for cycling through the three onboard mouse profiles, with RGB lights to indicate your selections. On the left side, you have the usual Back and Forward buttons and the under-thumb sniper button, the signature feature of FPS mice. By default, pressing and holding the sniper button dramatically decreases your mouse sensitivity to allow for fine precision adjustments on the fly, like lining up your reticle just before a headshot. (Photo: Mike Epstein) Measuring 1.47 by 2.5 by 5 inches (HWD), the Agon AGM700 has a straightforward shape with some subtle weaknesses. The hump guides your fingers into a comfortable grip but fails to properly support your palm, as the base drops off sharply at the very bottom of the mouse, leaving part of your hand hanging and your wrist pointing down. (Photo: Mike Epstein) I’m also not a huge fan of how the mouse looks. It features a smooth black base panel and two silver click panels textured to look like brushed aluminum. The sides have a grippy texture that makes the bright red sniper button look out of place. Some elements—particularly the red button—can be made to feel less out of place with complementary RGB lighting, but overall, the mouse looks like a hodgepodge of parts thrown together without a strong aesthetic direction. Those issues are only skin deep. Under the surface, the Agon AGM700 has strong components, including a PixArt PWM3389 sensor, which can track at up to 16,000dpi and stays accurate at up to 400 inches per second. It also features Omron mouse switches that are rated to last through 50 million clicks, which is standard for premium gaming mice. (Photo: Mike Epstein) As a final flourish, the AGM700 also features weight-tuning. In a storage compartment on the underside of the mouse, you’ll find five cylindrical 5-gram weights that you can remove and shift around to change the mouse’s heft and balance. Weight-tuning has become a relatively obscure feature in recent years. In the esports era, gamers want their mice to weigh as little as possible, so the notion of adding or removing mass feels moot. The AGM700 weighs 4.41 ounces with the weights in; versus most gaming mice, that's extremely heavy. Unless you really like a mouse with heft, you'll probably just take the weights out, bringing the mouse's weight down to a more reasonable 3.42 ounces. Rusty G-Tools Though AOC is a new player in the mouse game, its Windows-based configuration app, G Tools, looks surprisingly dated. The single-screen app has no frills. It gives you quick, direct access to tools for remapping buttons, creating macros, adjusting DPI presets, and changing RGB lighting, without the flourishes found in the configuration apps such as Razer Synapse and Corsair iCue. For example, the picture of the mouse in the app isn’t interactive. You change mouse functions with a series of drop-down menus, rather than by clicking on the buttons you’d like to remap. That lack of polish makes some configurations much more challenging—for example, you can't see proposed adjustments to your RGB lighting pattern onscreen—and the app's aesthetic just isn't appealing. It also has a very limited capacity for making custom mouse profiles. The Agon AGM700 can store three onboard profiles, which is fewer than average but more than you’d expect from a budget mouse. The app itself can only swap among five profiles total. If you want to have more, you’ll need to export them and stash them on your PC until you need them. This is a significant hurdle if you want to make special profiles for many games. If at First You Don’t Succeed… AOC could have been conservative with the Agon AGM700, but instead opted to swing hard and fall short. There are plenty of great mice in this price range, including the HyperX Pulsefire Haste and the Glorious Model O, but most are very simple five- or six-button designs without special features, for good reason. There are some good choices in the AGM700, enough to suggest that AOC could become a strong mousemaker in time, but as a whole, it doesn't quite hang together. (Photo: Mike Epstein)

 

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3.6
The need for legislative reform on secrecy orders

Jun 30,2021| Microsoft Corporate Blogs Jun 25,2021| Lucas Joppa Jun 16,2021| Mary Snapp Jun 15,2021| Fred Humphries

 

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0.4
Apple goes retro with free downloads of OS X Lion and Mountain Lion

While macOS is currently on version 11 (otherwise known as Big Sur) and macOS 12 Monterey is coming later this year, there are plenty of folks who use old versions of the Mac operating system. Some people are still using OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, and until recently, you had to pay Apple $19.99 to get download codes for those OSes. But there’s good news: Apple is now offering Lion and Mountain Lion for free for anyone who wants them. To get Lion and Mountain Lion for free, you can visit the support documents for those OSes on Apple’s website: Strangely, Apple still sells Lion and Mountain Lion for $19.99 each. Apple stopped charging for macOS updates with Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Lion runs on Macs that came prior to the launch of Mountain Lion in 2012. Mountain Lion runs on the Macs below, but you may not be able to downgrade to it unless you completely reformat the drive. You can’t install an old OS on top of a newer one. Also, the oldest OS an M1 Mac can run is Big Sur. If you want to know if your specific Mac can run OS X Lion or Mountain Lion, you can use our complete list of versions of macOS that a Mac can run. We have instructions on how to make a bootable Lion drive or a bootable Mountain Lion drive, in case you want to start from scratch on the Macs you’re working on. Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was released in 2009 and introduced the Mac App Store. Apple used to sell Snow Leopard for $19.99, but it’s no longer available. Editor’s note: This article was adapted from Macwelt. Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

 

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Top 10 Jobs APIs for 2021

Editor's Note: This article was published in it's original form in February of 2020. It has been updated to provide the current most popular Jobs APIs based on page visits to ProgrammableWeb. Whether developers are looking to create applications for job seekers or job hirers, the Jobs category on ProgrammableWeb is the best place to find suitable Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs. A Jobs API is an Application Programming Interface that developers can use to add data about jobs to applications. There, developers can find APIs that can crawl websites for jobs, return background check information, return job seeking data, return job specific, or specialized job hiring data, return salary information, aid in the interviewing process, and many more job hiring and seeking purposes. This article details the ten most popular APIs for Jobs based on page visits from our readers. Indeed is a search engine for jobs that gives job seekers free access to millions of employment opportunities from thousands of websites. Indeed.com includes all the job listings from major job boards, newspapers, associations and company career pages. The Indeed API Track this API allows developers to integrate Indeed's employer interface or job seeker interface in applications. Careerjet is a job search engine that pulls job postings from company and organization websites in a variety of industries and locations. Users searching for employment may also post their resume on Careerjet, as well as create job alerts. The Careerjet API Track this API allows developers to embed Careerjet search results into other websites. Search results can be returned by keywords, locations, companies, industries, and other criteria. The HTTP API is not documented, but client libraries are available for Java, Perl, PHP,. Net 2.0, and Ruby. The CareerBuilder API Track this API allows users to integrate their database of over 1.5 million jobs with your software or website. The API provides methods for basic job searching, retrieving data for a specific job, and applying to a job. The API is available to partner level clients. Dice is a website where technology and engineering professionals can search for jobs. It provides listings for more than 80,000 jobs in technological fields, as well as articles on technological developments and career advice. The Dice Jobs API Track this API allows users to search for jobs, retrieve jobs by ID, and get lists of recommended jobs. Get data about tech jobs with Dice Jobs API. Screenshot: Dice It's Your Skills (IYS) is a job skills Resource and Occupation Taxonomy (IST) service with the goal of creating a data centered approach to managing skills and a common universal language on skills. The Skills Search API Track this API fetches the skills from the Skills Library that It's Your Skills manages. This skills library covers skills in all industries and functions. This library is constantly updated. Use this API to query and search for jobs by skills, children skills, sibling skills, and related category skills. The LinkUp Job Search API Track this API enables access of over 3.5 million active jobs LinkUp indexes data direct from 30,000 company websites. The API is available to registered developers. Monster service includes job seeking, career management, recruitment and talent management products and services. The Monster Web Services Toolkit API Track this API allows users to publish job ads to the Monster.com job search and placement service. Users interact with BGW by sending SOAP messages over HTTPS. Also of Interest: 12 Top APIs for Business Lever is a collaborative applicant tracking system and hiring Platform. The platform integrates with email to improve communication and make it easy to request feedback on a candidate. The Lever Postings API Track this API allows users to programmatically retrieve job postings for their company, get postings that match a given query, get individual postings by ID, and apply to a job posting. Bullhorn is a technology company that provides end to end solutions for staffing and recruiting agencies. The Bullhorn API provides programmatic access to data in the Bullhorn system. With it developers can integrate the system with related applications. The API offers a number of functionalities including: resume parsing, candidate lookup, add jobs, retrieve files and more. Both a SOAP Track this API and REST Track this API are available. GitHub Jobs is an online job listing that focuses on software engineering, web development, and related fields. The GitHub Jobs API Track this API allows users to search, view, and create listings using JSON -based REST calls. Functions exist that allow users to search for jobs by description, location, full- vs. part-time, or any combination of thereof. Users may also employ the API to retrieve a JSON representation of a single job posting.

 

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Google Play System Update now shows percent progress on the boot animation

With the release of Android 10 back in 2019, Google debuted Project Mainline, an initiative that lets Google directly deliver updates to key Android components. The goal was to bolster security, protect privacy, and improve developer consistency by standardizing certain system components and delivering updates to them on a consistent schedule. The mechanisms of Project Mainline are opaque to the user and updates are delivered in batches with no changelog. The only thing the user sees is that a “Google Play System Update” is pending on their device, and after downloading a small package, they’re prompted to restart to apply the changes. After downloading the latest update today, some users have noticed that the boot animation now shows the percent completion of the updating process. Twitter user @ jas0nsg was the first to spot this new functionality, and he shared the following video with us demonstrating it on his Pixel 5 which received a Google Play System Update today: XDA Recognized Developer luca020400 also spotted the percent progress on his Pixel 5 following a Google Play System Update. We believe this functionality was triggered through an updated APEX module, though we don’t know exactly which one is responsible. Code for this functionality was committed to AOSP in early February, but at the time, Google engineers said the code was merely to show a proof of concept of the feature. Luca020400 believes the percent progress in the boot animation is only shown during updates to the ART module, which was added in Android 12. The reason, he says, is because applying updates to ART requires additional steps after the reboot. In any case, this is a small functional update that landed on a few Pixel phones running Android 12 today. If you spot a Google Play System Update on your device and want to see what’s changed, you can run the following command before and after the update to compare the version codes of each APEX module:

 

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Little Tikes Is Roasting Parents With a 'Peloton' for Kids