RSS Grid

Scrollview

Die Abschiebe-Debatte der Innenminister

Source by Gordon Repinski

Präsentiert von eBay.

Gerade war der Kanzler noch auf internationalen Gipfel in Süditalien und der Schweiz, jetzt muss er sich mit harter Innenpolitik auseinandersetzen. Die kleine Ministerpräsidentenkonferenz Ost gestern, die Innenministerkonferenz heute, die große Ministerpräsidentenkonferenz dann am Donnerstag. Themen, die der Kanzler und seine Ampel dringend bearbeiten müssen, gibt es viele. Energie, Klima und Migration sind aus Sicht der Deutschen die drängendsten.

Auf der MPK Ost scheinen sich zumindest teils Kompromisse abzuzeichnen. Unter anderem beim strittigen Thema der Elementar-Versicherungen, die auch Hochwasserschäden abdecken. Wie die Lösung künftig aussehen könnte und warum sie der FDP und der Union entgegenkommt, ist ein Thema.

Weiter gestritten wird über die Abschiebung auch in nicht sichere Herkunftsländer, wie Afghanistan und Syrien. Bei der heutigen Innenministerkonferenz wird der Gastgeber, Brandenburgs Innenminister Michael Stübgen, weiter Druck machen. Wie Abschiebungen für ihn realistisch und machbar sind, erklärt er im 200-Sekunden-Interview.

Außerdem geht’s nach Brüssel, wo im nächsten Monat die EU-Ratspräsidentschaft von Ungarn übernommen wird. “Make Europe Great Again” lautet das vollmundige Motto. Warum davon wenig übrig bleiben könnte, das Getöse aber groß werden wird, berichtet Jakob Hanke Vela, Diplomatie-Experte bei POLITICO.

Das Berlin Playbook als Podcast gibt es morgens um 5 Uhr. Gordon Repinski und das POLITICO-Team bringen euch jeden Morgen auf den neuesten Stand in Sachen Politik — kompakt, europäisch, hintergründig.

Das Berlin Playbook als Podcast gibt es morgens um 5 Uhr. Gordon Repinski und das POLITICO-Team bringen euch jeden Morgen auf den neuesten Stand in Sachen Politik — kompakt, europäisch, hintergründig.

Und für alle Hauptstadt-Profis:
Unser Berlin Playbook-Newsletter liefert jeden Morgen die wichtigsten Themen und Einordnungen. Hier gibt es alle Informationen und das kostenlose Playbook-Abo: https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/berlin-playbook.

Mehr von Berlin Playbook-Host und Chefredakteur von POLITICO in Deutschland, Gordon Repinski, gibt es auch hier: 
Instagram: @gordon.repinski | X: @GordonRepinski.

TikTok Will Soon Have Ads With AI-Generated Versions of Popular Creators

Source by Dua Rashid

TikTok recently announced Symphony Digital Avatars, a new way to incorporate ads on its platform. The social media app will soon feature AI-generated avatars of popular creators. According to the company, the aim is “to help creators and brands captivate global audiences and deliver impactful messages in an immersive…

Read more...

Beats Solo Buds Now Available to Order: 18-Hour Battery and a Tiny Case for $79.99

Source by Eric Slivka

Following their announcement back in late April, the new Beats Solo Buds earbuds are now available to order ahead of their launch later this week. Priced at $79.99, the Solo Buds offer 18 hours of battery life right in the buds themselves and come in the smallest case ever for a Beats earphone product.


We've had a chance to spend a few days with the Beats Solo Buds, and we've been pretty impressed with what you get for that budget price point. These are true wireless earbuds with a similar design and fit as the more expensive Studio Buds +, but without some of the more advanced features like Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), Transparency, hands-free "Hey Siri" support, and auto play/pause ear detection. There's also no official sweat and water resistance rating, although they should still stand up pretty well to everyday usage.


Even without ANC, the in-ear fit of the Solo Buds does a pretty good job of blocking out exterior noise compared to the standard AirPods that don't seal in the ear canal, and the audio quality is surprisingly good though definitely a notch below higher-end options. Four ear tip sizes ranging from XS to L are included, so most users should be able to find a good fit and we thought they were reasonably comfortable even during extended usage sessions. Support for Spatial Audio is included, but head-tracking is not.


The tiny case for the Solo Buds is possible due to the fact that it carries no internal battery of its own, meaning it serves only as a storage case and mechanism for charging the buds themselves when they run out of battery. A USB-C port on the back of the case delivers the charge to the buds, but with 18 hours of battery in the buds, you should be good for multiple days of listening before you need to plug the case in to charge them back up.


With no battery on board the case, the whole package is extremely light, weighing under 35 grams with the buds inside. The case is slightly wider than an AirPods Pro case and about the same thickness, but it's significantly shorter, which makes it even more pocketable, and the flat bottom makes it easy to stand the case up for convenience.


The iconic "b" logo button is present on both buds, and the default functions include the usual press for play/pause, double press to skip forward, and triple press to skip backward. For phone calls, a single press answers a call, while a double tap either ends or rejects a call. A single press and hold on the button activates ‌Siri‌, but you can customize that gesture in the Settings app so that the two earbuds control volume up and down if you prefer.


While there's no Apple W or H chip onboard, the proprietary Beats chip platform supports a number of native Apple features such as one-touch pairing with iCloud syncing across your devices, automatic audio handoff to your Apple Watch when you go out of range of your iPhone, Find My support for the last known connected location, and audio sharing. Android users get many of the same features including one-touch pairing with device syncing via your Google account, ‌Find My‌ Device support, and audio switching with multi-point pairing.


Overall, the Beats Solo Buds are shaping up to be a great budget earphone pick if you don't need the features present on more expensive options. The 18-hour battery life right in the buds is certainly convenient, and they're supremely portable with their light and tiny case.

In addition to more subdued Matte Black and Storm Gray colors, the Solo Buds are also available in an Arctic Purple shade that's exclusive to Apple and Target in the U.S., plus a Transparent Red that lets you see into the case a bit. All four colors are available to order now for $79.99, with a launch following this Thursday, June 20.
Tag: Beats

This article, "Beats Solo Buds Now Available to Order: 18-Hour Battery and a Tiny Case for $79.99" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Ecuador Suspends Visa Deal With China Due to ‘Worrying Increase in Migratory Flows’

Source by Bloomberg News

Ecuador’s foreign affairs ministry cited Chinese arrivals who have overstayed or used the South American nation “as a starting point to reach other destinations in the Hemisphere.”

Ecuador temporarily stopped a visa agreement with China, citing “a worrying increase in migratory flows from” the Asian nation in recent months.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the South American nation said in a statement Tuesday that the arrivals either stayed “in an irregular immigration situation or would have left through irregular routes to other destinations in the Hemisphere.”

Some Chinese nationals have been crossing the U.S. border illegally after trekking north through Latin America, motivated by economic opportunities in the U.S. during a slowdown in China.

When asked about Ecuador potentially halting the visa agreement on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said the deal “has played an important and positive role in promoting cross-border travel and practical cooperation in various fields.”

It added that Beijing “firmly opposes all forms of human smuggling.”

Final blow to Chinese ‘neutrality’ on Ukraine war

Source by Viking Bohman, Patrik Andersson, Hugo von Essen

With the dismissal of the Swiss peace conference, Beijing’s commitment to Russia has reached new heights.

Viking Bohman is an analyst at the Swedish National China Centre currently pursuing a PhD at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. Patrik Andersson is an analyst at the Swedish National China Centre, and his research has featured in publications such as the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs and the Extractive Industries and Society. Hugo von Essen is an analyst at the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies (SCEEUS), where he leads the SCEEUS Eastern Europe Policy Project.

China’s sympathy for Russia was already clear to most observers at the outset of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Less discussed, however, is the extent to which Beijing’s support for Moscow has grown since.

This was made painfully clear in the lead-up to the Swiss peace summit on Ukraine last weekend.

While some European leaders are eager to involve China in efforts to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, much to their disappointment, Beijing declined to participate in the peace conference, citing its lack of participation and “recognition from both Russia and Ukraine.”

Following this announcement, in the run-up to the gathering, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed dismay about China’s absence, as well as Beijing actively pressuring other countries to not participate. Russia was “using Chinese diplomats” to “disrupt the peace summit,” Zelenskyy said. And though he didn’t specify which countries were targeted, in early May, China’s designated envoy for the conflict had visited nations like Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and Kazakhstan.

It would, of course, be an exaggeration to say China and Russia are in complete agreement on the war. A review of recent statements and analyses from Beijing and Moscow makes clear that China recognizes Ukraine as a sovereign state, and doesn’t subscribe to Russian narratives about the country being a Nazified Western puppet. It also maintains direct contact with Kyiv, has spoken out against Russian nuclear threats, and hasn’t publicly supported the invasion either. Instead, it has vaguely stated that “the sovereignty of all countries” must be respected, subtly suggesting the invasion might not be justifiable.

But this is about as far as the divergences go, as the two countries tend to agree on key issues.

Beijing declined to participate in the Swiss peace summit, citing its lack of participation and “recognition from both Russia and Ukraine.” | Pooled photo by Urs Flueeler/AFP via Getty Images

For example, China has repeatedly expressed support for the “legitimate security concerns” Russia has about NATO’s eastward expansion. In Beijing’s view, the culprit of the conflict is the U.S., which it says has sought to provoke a confrontation in the region.

Over the years, China’s historical skepticism of NATO, which dates back to at least the 1999 U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, has developed into outright aversion. And Chinese officials view NATO’s June 2022 strategic concept — the first to list China as a security challenge — as confirmation of their suspicions that the organization is set to expand its geographical scope to try and contain the country.

Meanwhile, Beijing has also gravitated toward the notion of “indivisible security,” which posits that nations shouldn’t enhance their security at the expense of others — a doctrine promoted by Moscow for decades, and a criticism aimed at NATO’s activities. Prior to the invasion, China had endorsed the concept in joint statements with Russia. But since then, it’s been included in the Global Security Initiative — a cornerstone of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision for international relations — which suggests it will enjoy a more prominent role in Chinese foreign policy.

The pair also share a disdain for Western sanctions — including those imposed on Russia. Chinese officials vehemently oppose American “illegal unilateral sanctions” and say they won’t comply with them. And Xi hasn’t just passively resisted efforts to isolate Russia, providing the country with an economic lifeline, he’s also shown he’s willing to bear both reputational and economic costs to support his neighbor.

Since 2022, China’s leaders have dealt with a serious economic downturn, the sudden and unexplained ousting of two cabinet ministers and growing Western resistance to its global ambitions. The war has only amplified these challenges, with China’s relations with Europe tarnished by Beijing’s support for Moscow. And while China’s been wary of openly violating Western sanctions, multiple Chinese companies have recently been subject to restrictions for trading with Russian counterparts.

But this seems to be a sacrifice Xi is willing to make. In fact, as the West has increased its demands on China, it’s bond with Russia appears to have only strengthened. Trade and defense exchanges have grown significantly, while the Russian people seem to have become more positively disposed toward China too.

he war has only amplified these challenges, with China’s relations with Europe tarnished by Beijing’s support for Moscow. | Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

The longer China maintains its pro-Russian stance, the harder all this will be to reverse. Chinese firms have already adapted their operations to cater to expanding trade relations with Russia. Over time, this structural change will become harder and more expensive to undo. Moreover, Xi’s support of Putin has been personal and highly publicized. And as China’s pro-Russian policies don’t enjoy universal support among Chinese intellectuals, a policy reversal could be seen as a concession to his critics.

After his meeting with Xi in April, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the two leaders had agreed to “coordinate intensively” on holding peace conferences regarding Ukraine. And he made it clear he thinks “China’s word carries weight in Russia.”

It’s true a mediator doesn’t have to be perfectly impartial to be successful. With decisive leverage over one or both conflicting parties, it can cajole them into making compromises that might otherwise be impossible. For such efforts to be successful, however, said mediator must be willing to lean on the dependent parties in a way that can significantly strain its relations with them. So far, Xi has shown no signs of willingness to do so — and the chances of that seem to be decreasing.

European leaders are right to maintain a dialogue with China and to continue demanding Xi uses his leverage. But until China does so, letting Beijing take on a major role in the peace process risks legitimizing the invasion.

Metroid Prime 4: Beyond Will be the Big Game to Straddle the Switch 1 and Switch 2

Source by Kyle Barr

Sorry, but you were never going to get any Nintendo Switch 2 news at Tuesday’s 40-minute Nintendo Direct. However, Nintendo wasn’t just laying out the big titles to hit the original Switch for 2024; it was showcasing what games would keep us satiated just before and just after its next big console finally sees the…

Read more...

How to Sign Up for Prime Day 'Invite-Only' Deals

Source by Daniel Oropeza

Make sure you put your hat in the ring to get the best Prime Day deals Amazon has to offer.

Invite-Only deals started last year during Prime Day in an effort to give more people an equal chance to take advantage of the best deals Amazon has to offer. The program must've worked well for Amazon because they repeated it during Prime Big Deal Days later in October. While we don't have the official dates for Prime Day yet, we know it'll be sometime in mid-July. Knowing how to sign up for the Invite-Only deals will give you a fighting chance at taking advantage of these deals.

How to sign up for Prime Day Invite-Only deals

As Amazon explains, you must be a Prime Member to sign up for the Invite-Only deals. What you're doing is essentially requesting an invitation to the deal, which will come by email. Here are the steps from Amazon:

  1. Find an "Invite-Only Prime Deal" that you want to purchase. You can find the deals on the Deals page.

  2. Navigate to the product detail page.

  3. Select "Request Invite." If you are not a Prime member, sign up for Prime to be able to request an invite.

  4. You will receive an email notification confirming you requested an invite. The confirmation will be sent to the email that is on your Amazon account. If you don't have an email on your account, add one by navigating to Your Account > Login > Security.

Keep in mind that just because you requested an invitation doesn't mean you'll receive one. If you are selected, you'll receive a push notification and email during the sale. If you're not selected, Amazon will also let you know you didn't get one. You can only buy one of the products that you were invited for, but you can request as many different product invitations as you want. The invitation will last as long as Prime Day lasts (two days).

As you can see from our past coverage of Prime Day Invite-Only deals, they are impressive. In October, Amazon had a 43-inch 4K Smart Fire TV for $99. You'll likely see similar deals this year. Some other tips to shop smartly for Prime Day are to use Alexa to remind you about deals and use deal alerts to receive notifications related to your recent Amazon searches and recently viewed items.

Your Apple Watch Will No Longer Punish You For Taking Naps

Source by Dua Rashid

WWDC 2024 was a pretty loaded event, and perhaps owing to time restraints, Apple might have skipped out on a seemingly small but crucial update for the Apple Watch coming to WatchOS 11.

Read more...

My Favorite Amazon Deal of the Day: Yeedi C12 PRO Plus

Source by Daniel Oropeza

This powerful and budget robot vacuum and mop machine doesn't need dust bag replacements, and it's $250 off.

The robot vacuum industry is fierce, with companies quickly releasing new robot vacuums that surpass the competition in specs and price. Today, you have the choice of selecting all kinds of alternatives to "classic" iRobot vacuums, which are quickly falling behind the competition. The C12 PRO Plus is Yeedi's latest vacuum, and it's a great value for your money, currently sitting at $349 (originally $599) after a $150 on-page coupon.

The Yeedi C12 PRO Plus has a combination of features that you won't find in any robot vacuum under $350: a self-emptying dust bin that can last up to seven weeks before needing to empty it; 8,000 pascals of suction power, which is impressive for its price; a mop pad that scrubs the floor 480 times per minute with a downward force that can get some dry stains off the floor; smart mapping of your home; ability to set schedules; boosted suction on carpet; anti-tangle technology on the roller; and an up to five-hour battery capacity.

A handy feature of this robot vacuum is that you don't need to buy dust bags for it—you can empty out the debris very much like you would a stick vacuum (you press the release button and the debris drops from below). It's a simple, money-saving feature that makes you wonder why other companies don't do the same.

The vacuum's mop feature works well and is superior to the Roomba Combo j5+ Robot Vacuum and Mop I was previously using at home. The vacuuming also seems to pick up debris that my Roomba doesn't normally pick up. The setup with the app was painless and took about 10 minutes to complete. The mapping of my 1,300-square-foot home also took about 10 minutes, which is much faster than the Roomba.

Apple Is Discontinuing Its ‘Apple Pay Later’ Less Than a Year After It Launched

Source by Michelle Ehrhardt

Apple is exiting the buy now, pay later market.

Just a little over half a year since it was fully released to all U.S. customers, Apple is shutting down its installment loan Apple Pay Later service. In a statement to 9to5Mac, the company said customers will now instead see installment loans “offered through credit and debit cards, as well as lenders” when checking out.

Apple Pay Later first started making its way to “randomly selected” customers in the U.S in March 2023 after being announced at WWDC a year prior. The feature existed directly in Apple Wallet, and though Apple said it allowed users to apply for a loan “with no impact to their credit,” fine print said loan and payment history “may be reported to credit bureaus and impact their credit” upon purchase.

The service followed the Apple Card’s launch in 2019, which included an arrangement with Goldman Sachs that Apple is apparently eager to get out of. Apple Pay Later was the company’s first attempt at handling its financial services itself via the Apple Financing LLC subsidiary, and followed in the wake of similar services like Klarna.

Buy now, pay later services have been called out in the past for hidden costs that might trap needy users into even more debt, which might have influenced Apple, with its generally friendly face, in exiting the sector.

“Our focus continues to be on providing our users with access to easy, secure and private payment options with Apple Pay, and this solution will enable us to bring flexible payments to more users, in more places across the globe,” Apple’s statement reads.

In addition to accessing loans from credit and debit cards, Apple Pay will also now allow access to loans from Klarna competitor Affirm, a recent Apple blog reads. Like Klarna, Affirm has also faced criticism in the past, with critics pointing out how high interest rates can lay in wait behind the service’s hip branding.

V Rising

Source

Om du blandar {Diablo} med {Minecraft} får du något i stil med {V Rising}. Något som kan beskrivas som ett isometriskt action-RPG med överlevnadselement. Ett roligt stridssystem blandat med ett djupt byggsystem, toppat med gotisk vampyrmytologi, ger ett ganska gediget spel som sticker ut från mängden, men det brukar också kännas trögt och ibland påminna om lite irriterande spelmekanik från ett mobilspel . Efter två år i Early Access fick vi tillgång till spelets beta innan lanseringen av den fullständiga versionen. Som vampyr vaknar du från 100 års vinterdvala och måste bygga upp ditt rike och sprida dina mörka vingar över landet. Bortsett från en kort introsekvens, startar spelet hårt och snabbt. Du börjar med att krossa några skelett med klorna, plocka upp deras ben och konstruera ditt första svärd av benbitarna. Det är vid denna tidpunkt som det blir tydligt att även om det ser ut som ett spel som {Diablo}, så finns det något helt annat i kärnan av {V Rising}. Det finns inget byte, inga fängelsehålor för att hitta bättre utrustning. Istället är din vampyr en hantverkare som kan bygga ett helt slott med sina blodfattiga händer. Som sådan presenteras ingen större historia. Mest för att spelet är tänkt att spelas på servrar med upp till 40 andra spelare som antingen kan arbeta tillsammans eller slåss mot varandra. Det finns ett antal chefer placerade runt kartan och dessa är organiserade i en aktstruktur, akt 1, 2 och 3, som kan ta formen av berättelsen.

I grund och botten är det en rangordning av deras nivå och svårighetsgrad, men det hade varit trevligt att få dem presenterade med lite mer sammanhang. Alla dessa bossar återuppstår efter ett tag, så om andra spelare redan har besegrat dem betyder det inte att de är borta. När vi spelar i beta har vi inte upplevt hur allt detta ser ut på en full server, och för att maximera min fördjupning i spelets ganska omfattande byggsystem valde jag att spela ensam mycket av tiden för att undvika att bli attackerad av mer erfaren vampyr herrar som vill plundra mig och bränna ner mitt lilla slott. Jag kämpade lite med om jag skulle beskriva spelet som en bygg-/överlevnadssimulator med action-RPG-element eller ett actionrollspel med inslag av en bygg-/överlevnadssimulator. När du är ute och jagar monster eller letar efter ett offer att suga blod ur, är det mestadels ett ganska engagerande action-RPG, men inom kort kommer du att hitta dig själv mer av en Dracula-hantverkare djupt inne i resurshantering. De två olika grundelementen i spelet är både till fördel och nackdel.
<bild></bild>
Resurs- och byggnadssystemet är ganska bra, förvånansvärt flexibelt och djupgående. RPG-elementen känns lite tunnare, men själva striderna är frenetiska och roliga. Det är övergången mellan de två som ofta kan motarbeta varandra när det gäller fun-factor. Kanske har du precis varit i en adrenalinfylld kamp med en chef som du inte kan besegra, så du går hem till ditt ständigt växande slott för att uppgradera ditt svärd, bara för att upptäcka att du inte kan eftersom du saknar raffinerad koppar . Okej, så du måste göra lite raffinerad koppar, men innan du kan göra det behöver du självklart lite koppar, och du behöver också lite trä som behöver slipas till plankor etc. Det är inte så att det är dåligt i sig, men du kanske inte kunna spela byggingenjör när du är för upptagen med att försöka besegra monstret i skogen. Det finns en ganska unik synergi mellan de två huvudelementen i spelet. Istället för att samla erfarenhetspoäng för att bli starkare behöver du samla resurser för att utöka ditt slott - senare kanske ett helt kungarike - och få bättre utrustning. Din nivå i förhållande till chefer ska främst ses i samband med nivån på din utrustning. Det betyder inte att du inte kan bygga upp din karaktär, men istället för erfarenhetspoäng görs detta genom att dricka blod från andra varelser. Du kan dricka blodet från allt från en liten råtta till ett stort monster, och beroende på vad du senast tappade får du bonusar. Om du besegrar en boss och dricker dess blod kan du få nya magiska förmågor som är permanenta. Samspelet mellan att bygga ditt rike och gå ut för nytt och bättre blod fungerar ganska bra.

Grundsystemen verkar stenhårda och genomtänkta, men det kan också vara väldigt svårt att dansa med. Att lägga resurser på en maskin för att göra något som du måste lägga i en annan maskin för att äntligen bygga det du vill kräver att du tar dig tid. {V Rising} är inte ett spel som du bara hoppar in i i 15 minuter och hackar och sticker några monster. Jag började tröttna på att ständigt bli dödad eftersom min utrustning inte var tillräckligt stark precis när jag var på väg ut för att hitta resurserna för att uppgradera samma utrustning. Dessutom är allt du har på dig när du dör - förutom dina vapen - kvar på brottsplatsen, så du måste trava tillbaka för att ta tag i allt du just har lagt ner tid på att samla in. Det är inte så att det är dåligt alls, det är bara väldigt krångligt och tar ofta vinden ur ett annars bra stridssystem. Jag vet inte hur annars balansen kunde ha hittats eller om den alls borde vara annorlunda, men det här är ett spel med mer hamrande och dunkande än hugg och hugg.
<bild></bild>
Det ska dock sägas att du kan konstruera din spelsession som du vill, nästan i varje parameter. Du kan ställa in hur mycket du kan bära, hur många resurser du skördar från saker och hur mycket skada du ger och tar genom att sätta en multiplikator. Du kan också ställa in hur många andra spelare som får vara på servern och om de kan attackera varandra. Så det finns gott om möjligheter att finjustera din upplevelse. Problemet är att det kan kännas lite som fuskkoder och förvränga svårighetsgraden som spelet helt klart är menat att ha. Jag spelade som sagt mest ensam i den här betan, men {V Rising} är designad från grunden för att kunna spelas med andra, både som vänner och fiender, och jag kan lätt föreställa mig att det är roligt att bygga ditt slott och besegra fiender - och lite lättare - om du har några vänner med. Mängden alternativ för hur du kan bygga är ganska stor. Stilen är naturligtvis den klassiska gotiska skräckstilen, men du kan bygga ditt slott över flera våningar, dekorera det och du kan förföra byborna och göra dem till dina tjänare.

Möjligheterna är oändliga och om du får en vän eller två tillsammans, har du en fantastisk upplevelse - om du alla är beväpnad med lite tålamod. Slutligen är det värt att nämna - med tanke på att jag inte har testat hur de stora multiplayer-servrarna körs - att spelet är i utmärkt tekniskt skick. Jag spelade det på {Steam Deck} på de högsta grafikinställningarna vid 45 fps, och trots många små, lite krångliga menyer är spelet väl anpassat till enheten. Jag kan lätt rekommendera {V Rising}. Det är välkonstruerat och designat genomgående, men du måste gå in och veta vad spelet är och inte är. Även om striden är rolig, är den inte tillräckligt rolig för att hålla dig från att bli uttråkad om du inte har något intresse av att bygga och förvalta ditt slott. Men om du vill ha en action-RPG ala {Diablo}, där du kan bli den mörka överherren och bygga ditt eget kungarike, är {V Rising} det mest uppenbara alternativet.

Why House of the Dragon Changed One of the Most Gruesome Moments From the Book

Source by Sabina Graves

Last night’s second season premiere of Game of Thrones’ spinoff House of the Dragon tackled one of George R.R. Martin’s most infamous deaths—in a new way that surprised the fandom.

Read more...

Pair of Merging Quasars Reveals Secrets of the Universe’s Earliest Days

Source by Isaac Schultz

A team of astronomers has spotted the most distant merging galactic cores yet, seen as they were when the universe was less than a billion years old. The duo of active galactic centers, called quasars, is the only confirmed pair seen during the Cosmic Dawn.

Read more...

Doctor urges U.S. to use its influence with Israel and Egypt to reopen Rafah crossing

Source by Michele Kelemen

A Palestinian American doctor says it's now much harder to enter Gaza with medical supplies. He places blame on Israel, Egypt and the U.S. for failing to improve the humanitarian situation .

A Palestinian American doctor says it's now much harder to enter Gaza with medical supplies. He places blame on Israel, Egypt and the U.S. for failing to improve the humanitarian situation .

When to Harvest Scapes (and What to Do With Them)

Source by Amanda Blum

The blossoms that alliums send up this time of year are a prized gourmet ingredient.

Early summer marks the beginning of scape season, as you’ll soon see at the farmers market and likely in your own garden. As the seasons change and we hit the right temperature range, onions, garlic, and shallots will try to shoot up a flower. Unlike the sprouted leaves of the plant, which stand hollow, straight, and tall, scapes have a solid stem and tend to grow in fantastical swirls and turns, making them easier to spot.

For most alliums, scapes represent a plant that has bolted, meaning that the taste will be ruined, since all the energy will go towards the flower rather than the bulb of the plant. (For garlic and shallots, this is not true: you can harvest the scape and the plant will quit being distracted and go back to working on producing a large bulb.) The good news is that scapes tend to erupt across your yard within a small window of a week or two, so if you’re diligent enough, you’ll be able to grab them all and do something with the scape harvest. 

How to harvest scapes

Begin by paying attention to your garlic, which you (theoretically) planted in fall. You should start to notice a curvy, curled “leaf” and on inspection, that will be the scape. You want to wait until the scape is as tall as the leaves and separated from the leaves, and then just snap it off at the base, or clip it with clean shears. You do not want the blossom at the top of the scape to open; it should still be tightly closed.

Your onions may also bolt and produce a scape, and you can choose whether to harvest it or leave it on the plant and let it go to seed. At this point, the onion isn’t going to be edible anyway (onions are different than garlic), and if you let the flower go to seed, it makes a really stunning visual in the garden. It will also drop seeds, producing more onions next year. 

Make scape vinegar

It may sound basic, but this spicy, garlicky vinegar is one of the easiest and most visually pleasing ways to use your scapes or open onion flowers. Wash your scapes, chop them into one-inch pieces, fill a bottle or jar one quarter full with the chopped scapes or open onion blossoms, and then top with white vinegar. Let the vinegar sit for a few weeks, and then it’s ready for use. You can filter the scapes out, or leave them in. The blossoms, in particular, look really nice on the shelf. 

Make scape koshō

I eagerly await scapes each year so I can make this garlic koshō from Jori Jayne Emde. It’s essentially just scapes, blended with 20% of their weight in salt, and allowed to ferment. This is one of my favorite fast ways to prep any protein or vegetable. Simply add a little olive oil to the kosho, and then rub it all over what you’re prepping, and then cook it. The koshō imparts saltiness, umami, and a soft garlic flavor. 

Use scapes the same way as garlic

Scapes have a woody stem and a closed blossom, so texturally, they’re different from garlic bulbs, but they have the same spicy taste profile. A thinly sliced or diced scape contributes the same taste as garlic, with a different mouth feel, and a little more bite. The different format of scapes to bulbs allows you to use the scapes creatively, including grilling or sautéing them, which will soften both the flavor and texture. 

Make scape pickles

I used pickled onions all the time, but I save pickled scapes for a special occasion. I use a simple brining solution that is 50% vinegar and 50% brine. You can use any vinegar you want, and the brine is a 3% salt solution. Split the scapes along the length as many times as you can (usually it's just once or twice) and then cut into three-inch pieces. Add the scapes to a jar, and then cover with the hot brine. Cap the jar and allow it to sit for at least two weeks. At that point you can move it to the fridge. 

Blend up some scape butter

Throw eight tablespoons (one stick) of your favorite room-temperature butter into a food processor with one scape. (Don’t add more—one scape is plenty.) Add a pinch of salt and blend until the butter is a pale green and you see only small particles of the scape. Scrape the butter into a jar, and place in the fridge. The resulting butter is stupendous on biscuits or any other application that doesn’t need sweet. 

Arrange a bouquet

If you hate the taste of scapes, you can still enjoy their beauty. Place them in a vase and turn them into a spectacular display on your table, either on their own, or with the snapdragons, sweet peas, or foxgloves that are blooming right now.

Opinion: Putin and Kim forge closer ties, resuscitating a defunct Stalinist alliance

Source by Sergey Radchenko

As Russia's leader visits North Korea, Johns Hopkins professor Sergey Radchenko offers insights into the fascinating history of twists and turns in relations between Moscow and Pyongyang.Part of a welcome for the United States-Soviet commission on Korea on their arrival in Pyongyang on July 23, 1947, was this parade of Korean communists carrying huge portraits of Josef Stalin and Kim Il Sung. The commission visited Pyongyang, 165 miles north of Seoul, for the purpose of getting views of political groups on the prospecting.

As Russia's leader visits North Korea, Johns Hopkins professor Sergey Radchenko offers insights into the fascinating history of twists and turns in relations between Moscow and Pyongyang.

(Image credit: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

How to Download Music From YouTube on Any Platform

Source by Pranay Parab

YouTube has a massive selection of songs: Here's how to download what you want to listen to.

Most of us stream the vast majority of our music, but sometimes that's not an option. That's where downloading songs or music videos for offline listening comes in. If YouTube is your music platform of choice, there are plenty of methods to download music for when you have spotty or no internet connectivity.

Downloading music from YouTube is legal if you pay for YouTube Premium. All other methods to download songs from YouTube are free, but they may not always be legal. Remember that it's okay to download your own music or copyright-free songs from YouTube, but if you're trying to rip popular music that you didn't create, you're probably going against the site's terms of service.

Download music from YouTube by subscribing to YouTube Premium

The most reliable method for downloading music from YouTube is by paying for the service—which, I know, is probably not what you want to hear.

You can either get YouTube Premium for $13.99 per month, or you can subscribe to just YouTube Music Premium for $10.99 per month. These are two separate services: YouTube Premium comes with YouTube Music Premium, but not the other way around.

Both services allow you to download music from YouTube, plus come with other features such as removing ads. YouTube Premium comes with a host of extra features focused on the video side of the platform, so if you only want music, you can save a little money by just subscribing to YouTube Music Premium.

All other methods for downloading music from YouTube are unofficial and may violate the site’s terms of service, but YouTube probably won't do much to stop you. (Just don't upload any copyright-protected material). In addition, know that using unofficial YouTube downloaders could compromise your security if the app gets bought by malicious developers down the line. I've done my best to recommend safe programs, but I can't predict what the future holds. Always do research before downloading an unofficial app from the internet.

How to download music from YouTube on Android

A screenshot of the NewPipe app for Android
Credit: NewPipe

If you have an Android phone, try using NewPipe to download music from YouTube. This app is not available on the Google Play store because it essentially gives you all of YouTube Premium's features for free, including the ability to download music from YouTube. Here's how to install it:

  1. Download the Newpipe apk.

  2. Open the downloaded file on your Android phone. You may see a warning and a request for your permission to install NewPipe. Grant this request and go back to the installer.

  3. Once the installation is complete, open NewPipe and search for the music you want to download.

  4. Tap Download, followed by Audio, and NewPipe will save the song for you.

How to download music from YouTube on iPhone

A screenshot of the YouTube Download shortcut on the iPhone
Credit: @gluebyte/Routine Hub

On your iPhone, the best (unofficial) way to download music from YouTube is via Apple’s Shortcuts app. Follow these steps to download music from YouTube to your iPhone:

  1. Download the YouTube Download shortcut from RoutineHub, a third-party gallery for shortcuts for your iPhone.

  2. Install two more apps on your iPhone: Scriptable and a-Shell mini.

  3. Open the YouTube video in Safari or in the YouTube app. Tap the Share button, which will reveal the share sheet.

  4. Scroll down and select YouTube Download from the list of shortcuts towards the bottom.

  5. YouTube Download will ask for a bunch of permissions. Unfortunately, you'll need to grant all of these for the shortcut to do its job. When it asks whether you want to download audio or video, select Download Audio. You can also choose the audio format you prefer. (I chose mp3.)

  6. Finally, the shortcut will ask where you want to save the downloaded file. You can pick iCloud Drive or the On My iPhone folder in the Files app.

The downloaded audio file will then be saved on your iPhone. You can repeat this process for pretty much any video on YouTube.

Download music from YouTube on Windows or Mac

A screenshot of the 4K YouTube to MP3 downloader app
Credit: 4K YouTube to MP3

On your laptop or desktop, use the 4K YouTube to MP3 app to get music from YouTube.

  1. Install 4K YouTube to MP3.

  2. Paste the YouTube URL in the app and let the app handle the rest.

  3. The app downloads music in mp3 by default, but you can also get m4a or ogg audio files.

The free version of the app allows 15 downloads per day, which is good enough for most people, but it may be a problem if you’re trying to download large playlists in one go. The app allows you to remove the download restriction at a starting price of $15 for a permanent license.

If you're comfortable with using command-line tools to download YouTube songs, then the excellent yt-dlp is another great choice that doesn't come with limits. Personally, I find the initial setup a bit cumbersome. Since I mostly only download one or two things from YouTube once every few months, 4K YouTube to MP3 does the job faster for me.

Samsung Just Announced Its Answer to the Apple Watch SE

Source by Michelle Ehrhardt

The Galaxy Watch FE is Samsung's first budget smartwatch.

This week’s tech announcements might have led with big Apple news at WWDC, but they’re closing on Samsung’s humblest smart product yet: the Galaxy Watch FE.

Starting at $199, the Galaxy Watch FE is the Android smartwatch leader’s first attempt to capture the success of the simple Apple Watch SE, rather than the more glitzy Apple Watch Ultra 2 or Pixel Watch 2. That means no rotating bezel, a smaller battery, only one size option, a smaller display, and a last-gen Exynos W920 chip. But with almost the same sensor loadout (minus temperature tracking) as the standard Galaxy Watch6, plus a $100 discount from the company’s current cheapest option, it finally gives Samsung’s wearables an entry-level pick.

It also has IP68 dust resistance and 5ATM water resistance, plus the same NFC (for contactless payments), GPS, Bluetooth, and wifi connectivity as Samsung’s more expensive watches. LTE connectivity can be added on for an extra $50, and you’ll boot up the watch to the familiar Wear OS 4 experience.

It’s unusual for Samsung to announce this now rather than wait for one of its Unpacked events, although it does give the company something to announce during its biggest mobile competitor’s biggest week. 

If you’re like me and only use your smartwatch very casually, it’s worth waiting until the June 24 release date for this one, since it seems like it will provide an almost identical moment-to-moment experience as the now mid-range Galaxy Watch6, even with its compromises (you’ll have to wait for later this year if you want LTE, though).

Granted, even with its clear comparisons to the Apple Watch SE, it looks like Samsung is taking a slightly different approach here. The tradeoffs: being based on Samsung’s mid-range Galaxy Watch6 rather than its more premium Galaxy Watch6 Classic means the FE doesn’t have any kind of physical dial, whereas the Apple Watch SE has the same digital crown as the rest of Apple’s watch lineup. At the same time, the FE does have an always-on display, something Apple Watch owners can’t get without spending $400. It’s also $50 cheaper than the cheapest Apple Watch. 

Homeworld 3

Source

Det känns bekvämt att inta rollen som ledare över en rymdflotta igen. Senaste gången var med den välgjorda uppdateringen av Homeworld och Homeworld 2 som tillsammans utgjorde The Homeworld Remastered Collection. Det var redan 2015 vilket känns som en smärre evighet sedan. De är uppskattade av en anledning. Originalet från 1999 satte många nya standarder inom genren. Att kunna flytta trupper i alla tre dimensionerna av rymden var fantastiskt på sin tid, och fokuset på en filmisk välberättad berättelse var ovanligt. Under slutet av 1990-talet experimenterade industrin fortfarande med berättande.

Det närmsta jag kan tänka mig Homeworld i nutid är Dune. Båda filmerna jobbar på ett liknande sätt med sin musik, teknologi, sina vyer och med både gammalt och nytt. Du har samma mäktiga musik med inspiration från mellanöstern och andra avlägsna platser. Estetiken och utseendet verkar inspirerat av Peter Elsons vetenskapliga konst från 1970 och 1980-talet. Hans kont lade även grunden till båda originalen. I det visuella blandas vackra vyer med släta detaljrika farkoster och uråldriga byggnader i rymden. Gammalt genomsyrar det nya och tillsammans med musiken skapar det en väldigt unik värld.

<bild>Mellansekvenserna är riktigt fina, och utnyttjar både förrenderade snuttar och ingame-grafiken för att berätta spelets historia.</bild>

Homeworld 3 är inget undantag, det är storslaget, det tar sin tid och slukar upp dig i dess engagerande upplägg. Det är en direkt fortsättning på föregångarna och Homeworld Deserts Of Kharak som utspelar sig före hela trilogin. Om du inte testat något av föregångarna finns det en sammanfattning av berättelsen. Jag kan dock tycka att man missar lite om man hoppar på detta direkt. Namnen, platserna, händelserna och mycket annat ger kontext och mening till det vi får uppleva i trean. Remasterversionerna håller väldigt bra än idag.

Spelmässigt fungerar det snarlikt alla tidigare titlar. Du har ett stort moderskepp som du bygger fabriker och uppgraderingar i för att sedan producera rymdskepp genom. Det är lite som en flygande rymdbas. Du kan använda den för att anfalla och försvara men du behöver vara försiktig. Du får inte förlora denna centrala pjäs på brädet för då tappar du möjligheter att klara av att vinna. Vi har sett detta tidigare i andra strategispel som i Supreme Commander. Det möjliggör också att du kan fokusera mer på striderna. Du behöver inte hela tiden tänka på placering, platsbrist och annat.

Jag gillar det lite långsammare tempot som utnyttjar möjligheten att färdas i alla riktningar. En nyhet är att du kan gömma krigsfarkoster bakom skrot eller asteroider och mycket annat. I kampanjen är vissa av nyheterna i fokus för att klara av uppdragen. Du kan också smyga trupper via små ingångar för att förbli osedd. Homeworld 3 tillåter dig att använda dig av betydligt fler strategier än i något tidigare spel i serien. Avsaknaden av sådant ansåg jag var en svaghet i föregångarna, de tog aldrig helt tillvara på sitt koncept. I Homeworld 3 precis som i tidigare titlar är det kampanjen som är huvudrätten men det finns både ett flerspelarläge och ett samarbetsläge för att dryga ut speltiden.

<bild>Även om ditt moderskepp är central för din armada är dina trofasta resurshanterare lika viktiga. Utan pengar kan du inte bygga något.</bild>

Kampanjen utspelar sig 100 år efter tvåan. Karan S'jet en av protagonisterna i tvåan har försvunnit. Samtidigt har det stora nätverket av "Hyperspace Gate Network" slutat fungera runtom i galaxen. Ett problem som sprider sig till fler portaler och stoppar upp den galaktiska handeln. Skalan på konflikten vi möts av i trean är betydligt mer omfattande än i tidigare installationer. Du får följa processen och integrationen av en ny navigatör Imogen S'jet i ett helt nytt moderskepp. Denna karaktär är en släkting till Karan från tvåan och tillsammans med Isaac Paktu även kallad Intel (en underättelseofficer ombord) försöker ni hitta orsakerna till problemen med er besättning. Berättelsen lämnar mer avtryck om du spelat föregångarna. Det känns som att Homeworld 3 är ett kärleksbrev till redan frälsta. Det går med hjälp av sammanfattande videor att hoppa rakt in om du glömt bort, eller aldrig mött serien tidigare. Däremot går det rappt i berättandet och det görs många hänvisningar till tidigare spel.

Premissen för äventyret innebär att du kommer att försöka överleva i en rad uppdrag som alla är skapade för hand med mycket berättande i fokus. Variationen är toppen, ena stunden försöker du bygga upp dina styrkor och slåss, i andra stunden försvarar du något viktigt. Ett av mina favorituppdrag handlade om att ta sig genom en storm av meteoriter och asteroider. För att klara av det behöver du ha en känsla för timing, nyttja möjligheten att skydda dig bakom större objekt och planera en rutt. Jag mötte inga fiender under uppdraget utan det bjöd enbart på mycket rymdstenar och mycket spänning. Miljöerna är mycket mer inkluderade i din strategiska och taktiska planering att det lyfter det spelmässiga till nya höjder (både metaforiskt och bokstavligt). Berättandemässigt är det mer prat mellan karaktärer på gott och ont. Berättandet är varken sämre eller bättre i mitt tycke. Berättelsen påminner mig lite om Battlestar Galactica i det att du länge är jagad och inte vet varför.

<bild>Imogen S'jet och Isaac Paktu är de två centrala protagonisterna och deras relation utvecklas under kampanjen.</bild>

Det finns även ett samarbetsläge som är helt nytt för serien. Du kan spela det själv eller med upp till tre vänner. Jag tycker att det är en intressant tolkning av genren roguelikes med Homeworld-tema. Du utför uppdrag, försöker överleva och bygga upp din flotta i alltmer svåra situationer. Det kastas vågor av fiender på dig och du kan själv välja när du avancerar till nästa spelvärld. För att göra det mer roligt är det designat att spelas med andra mot datorn. Det är ett fungerande koncept där du rankar upp och låser upp starkare flottor. En flotta innehåller ett visst antal rymdskeppskategorier och är specialiserat på något. Högre ranker innebär att du kan låsa upp och spela som andra specialiserade styrkor. Alla varianter kommer med för och nackdelar och är olika dyra att bygga upp till sin maximala styrka.

Det tredje och sista spelläget är vanlig hederliga skärmytslingar mot datorn eller andra spelare. I detta läge är alla dina verktyg upplåsta och du behöver god kännedom om hur din fraktion fungerar. Vid start finns det två sidor Hiigaran Fleet som den lite mer defensiva och robusta, och Incarnate Fleet som är något mer offensiv och aggressiv. Varje rymdskeppskategori har sina egna svagheter och styrkor. Det är väldigt mycket en fråga om sten, sax och påse-modellen vi är vana vid. Däremot har alla någon form av uppgradering och precis som i Company of Heroes har rymdskeppen områden med mer och mindre skydd. Med hjälp av miljöerna kan bakhåll öppna för avancerade strategier.

<bild>Om du tröttnar på att ha ditt moderskepp liggandes, kan du rotera det till sin ikoniska position från föregångarna.</bild>

Hur mycket du ser av kartan kan avgöra hur striderna slutar. Spaning, manövrar, formationer, anfallsvektorer och förflyttning är lika viktiga som att anfalla med överlägsna styrkor. Jag tycker att stridssystemet är en stor uppgradering gentemot föregångarna. Det är ruskigt bra och användargränssnittet hjälper mig att stoppa allt i grupper och hitta det jag behöver. Du kan pausa inte helt olikt funktionerna vi ofta ser i moderna realtidsstrategispel. Med tanke på hur mycket du ska kontrollera i realtid är det ett välkommet inslag för kampanjen och annat solo-spelande. Du har också en klassisk kartvy där du kan se vart i världen du ser, resurser och fiender mer tydligt på skärmen.

Det är framförallt i flerspelarläget mycket av min kritik finns. Med bara sex banor tillgängliga och två fraktioner känns det klent på innehåll för den som inte vill spela själv. Spelnivåerna är alla välgjorda med mycket mer detaljer än i tidigare titlar men det hjälper inte så mycket. Jag hoppas att Blackbird Interactive satsar på att lägga till mer innehåll både sett till banor och fraktioner. Spellägena för att vinna är att förstöra någons moderskepp, förstöra all produktion eller förstöra alla rymdskepp. Alternativen för att skräddarsy matcherna finns där men du kommer förmodligen att bli besviken initialt om det är denna aspekt av titeln du längtar efter mest. Jag har aldrig riktigt fastnat i flerspelarlägena för Homeworld, men enstaka matcher har varit underhållande. Grunden för ett riktigt bra läge finns här om bara mer innehåll kommer på plats.

<bild>Miljöerna kan användas på många olika sätt till din fördel. Du kan gömma dig i dimma eller lägga rymdskepp bakom eller i byggnader.</bild>

Det tekniska har förbättrats på min maskin sedan jag testade demot. Allting laddar in blixtsnabbt och det finns inga tydliga buggar. Det visuella imponerar med fantastisk ljussättning, skotthål och brännmärken som sitter kvar hela kampanjen, det påminner om systemet för hur hur kappan slits i Arkham City och Arkham Knight under kampanjens gång. Ditt moderskepp och dina mindre rymdskepp som överlever bär ärren från tidigare strider. Det är ett litet men smart grepp för att påminna spelaren om tidigare strider. En mindre kritik från mig är att fiender och resurser kan vara lite svåra att klicka på med stor upplösning på bildskärmen. Röstskådespelet däremot är super med seriens mått mätta och det låter väldigt bra. Musiken är som vanligt helt fantastisk att lyssna på och den ambienta musiken och alla ljud är välgjorda. Det är kvalitativt och det märks att Blackbird Interactive har en kärlek för varumärket. Allting både låter och ser ut som det jag minns från min ungdom.

<bild>Vissa förolyckade uråldriga rymdskepp tillåter dina betydligt mindre farkoster att använda skroven som säkra transportsträckor, för att bli osynlig för fienden.</bild>

Sammanfattningsvis är det hela en spelmässig utveckling av originalen på ett bra sätt. Alltifrån att använda miljöer och utsättas för naturliga faror är fantastiska tillskott till serien. Strategier som inte riktigt spelade så stor roll i Homeworld 2 går utmärkt att använda här. Jag gillar hur pass mycket mer komplext det hela är utan att skaka på grundformatet. Att kunna gömma grupper av bombskepp i dimma för att attackera ett obevakat moderskepp eller lura in fienden i bakhåll. Det ska sägas att det är svårt att bedöma en ny del i en spelserie jag älskade som ung. Jag har uppskattat studions tidigare alster Deserts Of Kharak och de har med Homeworld 3 gjort en respektfull uppföljare till två av mina favoritspel genom tiderna. Gillar du serien kommer du förmodligen att uppskatta detta. Däremot måste jag flagga för att flerspelarläget med sina klassiska dödsmatcher har väldigt lite innehåll. Men med en riktigt underhållande kampanj, ett roande roguelike-läge och ett allmänt kvalitativt producerat spel är jag mer än nöjd.

<bild>Vänstra bilden visar ett av mina favorituppdrag som handlade om att flytta mitt relativt långsamma moderskepp genom en storm av rymdstenar. Den högra bilden visar den klassiska kartvyn.</bild>

Use 'Bridgy Fed' to Connect Mastodon and Bluesky

Source by Justin Pot

The two social networks can come together thanks to this beta bridge that connects two protocols.

The Great Twitter Exodus of 2022 is still happening. It's just a little...fractured. A lot of Twitter power users ended up on Bluesky. A lot of technically inclined individuals are still hanging out on Mastodon (at least, that's where I hang out).

These are two decentralized services, in theory, but users of one service can't really talk to users on the other. It wasn't possible before Bridgy Fed, anyway. This is a beta service that makes it possible for Bluesky and Fediverse-compatible applications, such as Mastodon, to interact. I tested this out with a friend and it works—we now see each other's posts, like each other's posts, and even talk to each other.

Let's back up a little. Mastodon is part of the Fediverse, a collection of services that connect to the same protocol. Threads, another place where a lot of Twitter users ended up, is starting to connect to the Fediverse; WordPress blogs can also connect. This all points to a future where people can use whatever social network they like and follow people who prefer to use a different one, with one problem: Bluesky, despite being decentralized, isn't part of this network.

This is where Bridgy Fed comes in. With this service, individual users of either service can opt in to "bridging" their accounts. I tested this out with my friend and Lifehacker alumni Eric Ravenscraft, who hangs out on Bluesky more than me. It worked well.

Create your bridged account

Setting up the bridge couldn't be easier: you just need to follow an account.

  • Mastodon and other Fediverse users need to search for and follow the account @bsky.brid.gy (it's easiest to just search for this—note that some Mastodon instances may be blocking the bridge).

  • Bluesky users need to follow the account @ap.brid.gy.

That's it! Bridgy Fed will create an account for you that users of the other service can follow. You can now find your account on the other service so you can share it with friends.

That's a little more complicated than I'd like—it would be great if the service sent a DM letting you know where you new "bridged" profile is. Still, I was able to find my new Bluesky profile pretty quickly. And I was also able to interact with Eric. Here's how the interaction looks from Mastodon, for me:

Screenshot of a conversation on Mastodon. I say "@lordravenscraft.bsky.social the system is down the system is down" and Eric, from Bluesky, responds "everything's fine, nothing is ruined"
Credit: Justin Pot

And here's how it looked from Bluesky, for Eric:

The same conversation as above, this time seen from Bluesky.
Credit: Justin Pot

Replies showed up in mentions, the way they normally would, as did likes. If all you want is to be able to organically interact with someone who is using the other network, this works well.

There are a few hangups, though. This only works if both people bridge their accounts. This means I can't see any comments from Bluesky users unless they also are bridged, and that works both ways. A few Mastodon users responded to me and Eric's conversation and Eric could not see those replies. This make sense: only comments from bridged users are bridged. This can create asymmetrical conversations, but the opt-in nature of the bridging service makes this inevitable.

And there are other hangups. Bluesky has a 300-character limit for posts, for one thing, while the Fediverse doesn't have a hard cap. The result: some posts are cut short. I could go on—this is far from a perfect solution. You can, and should, read the documentation to learn more. For the moment, though, it's a way for people who aren't on the same decentralized social ecosystem to talk to each other, and I like that. I'll certainly be bugging friends I want to interact with on Bluesky to "bridge" their accounts.

No Rest for the Wicked (Early Access)

Source

Något är ruttet i det en gång så frodiga kungariket, och i kölvattnet av kung Harols beklagansvärda bortgång har en mörk farsot svept över landet och slagit klorna i dess invånare. En situation som likväl kyrkan som den unga men ambitiösa tronarvingen gör sitt yttersta för att utnyttja. Det är ett eländigt kaos, en studie i mörker, lidande och ond bråd död som du i rollen som en av de mytomspunna heliga krigarna från Cerim tvingas försöka rädda från totalt förfall.

Det är en värld stöpt i historia som du kastas huvudstupa in i, fylld av nyanser och textur på ett vis du sällan finner i early access. Men vad annat kan man vända från Moon Studios. Kreatörerna bakom den älskade Ori-serien som nu tagit sitt Bröderna Grimm-liknande sagoberättande till nästa nivå med No Rest For the Wicked. Ett actionrollspel som lånar friskt från både Diablo likväl som Dark Souls när det kommer till spelmekanik.

<bild>"Hörry pysen, vik hädan eller förbered dig på att smaka på bredsidan av mitt svärd".</bild>

För varifrån Moon Studios funnit sin inspiration råder det inget tvivel om, men erbjuder samtidigt också något distinkt och eget, med en egen knorr på de sensibiliteter som gjort Diablo och Dark Souls till vad de är. Något som kanske blir som mest tydligt genom dess visuella flärd, för likväl som Ori bjuder No Rest For the Wicked på en exceptionellt vacker presentation som förundrar, förtrollar och drar en in, likt inget annat. Vilket också blivit lite av Moon Studios signum vid detta lag.

Men, detta är också som tidigare nämnt early access, med allt vad det innebär. För den direkt otroliga presentationen till trots blir flera underliggande problem snabbt tydliga i takt med att du faktiskt börjar spela detta utmanande äventyr. Det står i stark kontrast till deras tidigare Ori-spel, och är pepprat med frustrerande element i allt från spelupplägg till utmaning, för att då inte tala om de många och påtagliga prestandaproblem som bubblade till ytan.

<bild>Bagaren bjuder på bakverk med tveksamt innehåll.</bild>

Därför vill jag redan här och nu vara tydlig. No Rest For the Wicked må vara spelbart men som helhetsupplevelse har Moon Studios fortfarande många månaders arbete framför sig, ja gissningsvis till och med så mycket som ett år. Tydligt är att mycket av krutet så här inledningsvis gått åt till att paketera upplevelsen så snyggt det bara går, och på den fronten har de lyckats till fullo. För det tåls verkligen att upprepas att No Rest For the Wicked är bland det mest otroliga du just nu kan vila dina ögon på.

Resten av upplevelsen är just nu vad jag skulle vilja beskriva som övning i frustration. Med strider som förvisso sätter ribban högt, och kräver en metodisk, tålmodig approach där både stamina likväl som pareringar spelar en stor roll. Men som likväl också tyngs ned av överdrivet busy work. Ett evinnerligt insamlande av resurser, underhåll av utrustning samt vapen och en av mina största pet peeves, matlagning. Alla ting som tar fokus bort från den fantastiska värld som Moon Studios skapat.

<bild>En visuell fullträff som får en att gång på gång tappa hakan.</bild>

Likväl är striderna, vid sidan av världen, det som just nu är den absolut största begivenheten i No Rest For the Wicked. Ja, det saknas fingertoppskänsla och puts, det är inte det minsta balanserat och du kommer bli gramse, rejält så. Men mekanikerna finns där. Du dyker undan slag med vältajmade undanmanövrar, parerar slag med din sköld och svärd, och håller ett öga på din stamina. Alla ting vi blivit vana vid, med en primär attack för dig att använda kopplat till sekundära förmågor som kan variera baserat på hur du valt att uppgradera och förtrolla din utrustning.

Föga förvånande spelar också (så klart) healing en stor del in i upplevelsen också, med tidigare nämnd matlagning som ett av kugghjulen i maskineriet. Någon estusflaska eller magiskt helande dryck finns här inte, vilket tvingar dig att inte bara släpa med dig ett mindre förråd av föda på dina äventyr. Men också forcerar ett aldrig sinande behov av att samla komponenter till dina recept, med eskalerande komplexitet baserat på dess förmåga att läka dig.

<bild>Smaka min eldflamma, eländiga ruskprick!</bild>

Det är direkt upprörande hur spelet gång på gång lyckas reta gallfeber på mig, för jag vill verkligen besinningslöst älska detta. Jag borde. Moon Studios och deras team har trots allt producerat något här som lockar och bjuder in till äventyr på ett vis jag inte känt på väldigt länge. Med platser, karaktärer och miljöer som osar av karaktär. Men för varje gruvligt vackra bakgrund, bedårande animation eller stämningsfulla dialog så lurar problemen i bakgrunden. Och det går aldrig att undkomma dem.

Utmaningen är som att åka berg-och-dal-bana, med fiender som ena stunden känns genomtänkta och balanserade, blandat med strider som får en att vilja kasta kontrollen i omloppsbana runt jorden. Menyerna är röriga, onödigt krångliga och ärligt talat direkt ofärdiga. För att då inte tala om alla små moment som driver en till vansinne över dess menlöshet. Att gång på gång tvingas reparera vapen och utrustning är inte kul, har aldrig varit.

<bild>Tut i luren!</bild>

Likväl så är ens inventory på tok för litet, speciellt med tanke på de otaliga resurser man samlar på sig. Inte bara för matlagning men även för att konstruera likväl som uppgradera ens utrustning, vilket skapar en situation där du ofta tvingas tillbringa långa stunder med att bara transportera dina pinaler till och från olika köpmän och städer. Survival i all ära men det en del som just nu rimmar illa med resten av spelets gameplay.

Men balansproblem, buggar och tveksamt repetitivt upplägg till trots är de underliggande fundamenten starka. Här finns ett mästerligt, ja rentav utsökt spel dolt under ett berg av frustration och jag är helt övertygad om att Moon Studios kommer driva detta i mål med flaggan i topp. Eller rättare sagt, jag hoppas innerligt det. Frågan är väl bara hur lång tid det kommer att ta för i skrivande stund är det svårt att rekommendera No Rest For the Wicked förutom till de mest nyfikna av spelarna. Det är en ofullständig upplevelse, med en fantastisk värld, bitvis utsökta strider och makalös design.

Use the ‘Calendar Method’ to Finally Declutter Your House

Source by Lindsey Ellefson

This method helps you build momentum and make dramatic progress without getting overwhelmed by the task at hand.

While being surrounded by clutter in your home can feel chaotic and overwhelming, much of it can probably simply be discarded. How much of your kid’s old artwork really needs to be kept forever? There’s nothing of value in that stack of junk mail. And what do all the cords in that drawer even do? I’m not saying it’s easy to part with all of it, but you can make it easier. All of that junk is overwhelming in volume, but when you break it down, it can be totally manageable. You didn't accumulate it all at once, so don't try to get rid of it that way. Just use a calendar.

How the "calendar method" of decluttering works

The calendar method is pretty simple, when you get down to it: On the first day of the month, set out to declutter your house—but with the intention of it taking the full month. You start slow: On the first day, you find one item to throw away (or donate). On the second day, you throw away or donate two. Add another item each day, so you’re slowly building your decluttering muscle over the course of the month.

On a day with 31 months, you’ll end up parting with nearly 500 pieces of junk—and yet, you'll still be pacing yourself. On the first few days, don’t throw away anything too hard to part with. You’ll have plenty of time to get rid of every receipt, every unused appliance, and every expired container of food. Try to focus on one room at a time and make sure you stay on track with the numbering system. In fact, consider dedicating a month to one room, the next month to another, and so on, so you wind your way through the whole house at a pace that doesn't feel burdensome.

The best way to do this is by getting a big day planner and using that as your calendar, since it will tell you not only the numerical day of the month, but give you some space to write. At the end of each day, jot down everything you tossed out or donated. Try one like this, with big pages for each day:

If there is a day when you feel like tossing more pieces of junk than the date's number dictates, go for it, but use some caution. You know that toward the end of the month, you'll be getting rid of a bunch, so don't burn out. That's exactly what this technique is trying to avoid. In the event you work through this method for a while and find it's a little too slow, there are other decluttering techniques that take a stricter and more intense approach, so once you've gotten used to the feeling of getting rid of what you don't need, consider switching to one of those.

Why the calendar method is so effective

This method helps you get in the habit of tossing out a predetermined number of things, so that by the time you’re up to the teens and 20s, it’s much easier to part with stuff. (That's why I suggest saving more sentimental items until later in the month, when you've built up the mental muscle and are more used to tossing things out.) You see the progress and gain momentum along the way, especially if you take time to write down what you parted with every day. Getting rid of hundreds of pieces of clutter at once is an overwhelming task but chunking it up so you get a little thrill of accomplishment every day is much more sustainable. Plus, you'll see the progress through the month. By the third week or so, the space will look different—and that's motivating, too.

And at the end of the month, if you still have a bunch of clutter around, start back over at one.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants

Source

År 2017 släpptes äventyret Turtles Arcade i arkadform och nu, hela sju år senare, är det dags för spelet att släppas till moderna konsoler tillsammans med ett utökat innehåll. Efter att ha tillbringat ett par timmar med Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutans så kan jag dock konstatera att utgivaren borde ha lagt resurserna på något annat och låtit detta äventyr förbli begravt i glömska. För detta osar verkligen bara fränt av surt kloakvatten och bränd pizzaost, och oavsett hur stort fan du är av de ninjasparkande sköldpaddorna så finns det betydligt bättre och roligare produkter att lägga pengarna på.
<bild>Grafik i världsklass!</bild>
En initial och tillsynes positiv aspekt är dock att det är tydligt att man har sneglat mot Konamis odödliga klassiker från 90-talet när det kommer till inspiration och upplägg, men där det japanska spelhuset levererade pixel-doftande briljans så har utvecklaren Raw Thrills nöjt sig med att erbjuda en intetsägande spelbarhet och usel presentation. Designen är hämtad från Nickelodeon-serien från 2012, och även om designen i sig kanske inte är den bästa så gör den torftiga grafiken inte mycket för att få det att lyfta till någon högre nivå. Att det här spelet släpptes 2017 känns nämligen befängt vid en första (och en andra och tredje) anblick, och det är lättare att se det som en titel som lanserades år 2007 till Nintendo Wii framför något som hör hemma på dagens konsoler.
<bild>Någon tyckte detta borde vara värt trehundra kronor.</bild>
För Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants är gräsligt fult, och det finns ytterst lite liv eller charm i vare sig miljöerna eller karaktärerna som trängs tillsammans på skärmen. Det är även något märkligt med ljudet då musiken är extremt långt ner i mixen vilket gör att det mest känns avslaget och energifattigt. Det enda man egentligen hör är karaktärerna som kastar ut sig halvkassa one-liners i tid och otid, och när dessa därtill ackompanjeras av den totala tystnaden så känns spektaklet som utspelar sig framför ens ögon mer som en urspårad fars än något pulshöjande och medryckande.

Spelbarheten i sig är förvisso godkänd även om den är extremt barskrapad och idéfattig. Man använder en knapp för att slåss, en för att hoppa och en tredje för att bränna av ens specialförmåga. Utöver det är det väldigt lite att hålla reda på, och när fiendernas intelligens är bristfällig till tusen så känns det mest som man hamrar på X-knappen för att nå eftertexterna och äntligen få stänga av eländet. Alla bossar är dessutom snudd på identiska, och även om de har olika utseenden så tillför de sällan något nytt eller intressant som höjer upplevelsen till något annat än en ytterst medioker nivå.
<bild>Donatello leker trollkarl.</bild>
Det ska även noteras att detta äventyr är otroligt innehållslöst, detta då vi enbart bjuds på sex stycken nivåer som sammantaget går att klara av på drygt en timma. Visst, man kan spela om samtliga banor i oändlighet för att få bättre poäng, men det finns inget som uppmuntrar en att vilja besöka varje nivå på nytt efter att man redan har pinat sig igenom dem den en första gång. Visst, lider man av ett självskadebeteende så kan man säkert finna någon form av njutning i att plågas i denna polygon-fattiga action-soppa, men för alla andra finns här inget av värde att hämta.
<bild>Nej, köp inte detta.</bild>
Sammanfattningsvis så kan jag inte rekommendera Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutans till någon, inte ens de mest inbitna fansen. Visst, det går att spela igenom utan några buggar som förstör, men med en prislapp på trehundra kronor för en ynka timmas så kallad "underhållning" känns det inte acceptabelt någonstans, och betyget kan därför inte bli något annat än underkänt. Hela produkten känns nämligen som ett ytterst unket sätt att försöka tjäna pengar utan att anstränga sig det minsta, och jag hoppas inte folk inte låter sig luras av Turtles-loggan och drar iväg ett köp i hopp om att finna nostalgisk glädje. För när det kommer till just spelglädje så finns det sannerligen inte något av den varan här.

Four Home Renovations That Are Worth the Extra Money (and Five That Aren't)

Source by Jeff Somers

Renovations are expensive, but some aspects of one will show every penny you spend—and some won’t.

Renovating or remodeling your house can be a disorienting experience. Between the mess, the strangers crawling all over the place, and the constant discovery of disasters hidden inside your walls, stress levels can skyrocket. And when the bills come in, it gets worse.

One reason the average home renovation can cost more than $40,000 is our tendency to assume you have to do it all in one marathon instead of in phases—and to spend top dollar on everything along the way. All that flooring, hardware, and construction materials (not to mention appliances and new furniture) really add up fast, especially if you assume that higher prices equal better quality. While some renovation materials cost what they cost (you won’t be comparison shopping drywall any time soon) the fact is that not all your renovation or remodeling choices matter the same amount. There are aspects of any renovation where paying extra money makes a difference—and aspects where you can get away with cheaper, less flashy materials and no one will ever notice. If you’ve got limited funds for your project, here are the renovations that are worth extra money—or not.

Home renovations that are worth it

There are certain aspects of a home renovation where you should spend extra money:

  • Kitchen floors. You have a lot of flooring choices, and in other rooms you can likely get away with a cheaper carpet or an engineered wood of some sort. But your kitchen floor is going to see a lot of traffic—not to mention a lot of spills, temperature extremes, and scrubbing. The kitchen floor also pulls together the whole design, and you can’t easily cover it with an area rug as you can in other rooms. Spend that extra money here.

  • Furniture. In general, it’s worth spending money on furniture like sofas, chairs, and beds. If you’re remodeling or renovating your living room, buy a really good sofa. After all, you will spend a lot of time using these pieces, and the minor problems that come with cheap stuff will quickly become major irritants.

  • Appliances. Higher-end appliances are generally going to be worth any extra margin you have in your budget. They look nicer, actually do last longer, and tend to perform better.

  • Windows. If you’re replacing your windows, spend the extra money for high-quality ones. They will look better, last longer, and offer energy efficiency benefits that will actually reduce their overall cost over time.

Home renovations that might not be worth it

If you have all the money in the world, sure, go to town and spend on every little thing. If you’re trying to fit your renovation project into a modest budget, there are some areas you can get away with basic, no-frills stuff:

  • Kitchen cabinets. In the end, your kitchen cabinets are just boxes of wood. You want quality construction, but beyond that you can buy basic cabinets and easily make them look more expensive with new hardware, paint, or adding a soft-close feature.

  • Moving plumbing and wiring. Your ideal kitchen or bathroom renovation might include shifting the sink or toilet and changing the location of every single power outlet—but you can almost certainly get away without doing that. Moving plumbing can add close to $1,000 to your job, and rewiring a kitchen can run you nearly $2,300. Unless you need to do this to get the place up to code, it’s an easy place to not spend your money.

  • Lighting fixtures. Recessed lighting costs an average of $300 per fixture. Just by going with wall- and ceiling-mounted lights you can save a fortune and still have style to spare. And there are plenty of inexpensive light fixtures that look pricey and provide the same light that more expensive stuff does.

  • Cabinet/drawer hardware. Trust us: No one will know if your drawer and cabinet pulls cost $300 each or $10.

  • Backsplash. While you don’t need to spend a fortune on tile to get a luxe look, generally speaking, cheap tile will look cheap. But a backsplash is typically a very small area, and is usually obscured by appliances, cabinets, and all the stuff on your countertops. You might not want to put the cheapest tile or other materials on your backsplash, but you can definitely get away with cheaper.

New York Slams the Brakes on the Enshittification of Restaurant Reservations

Source by Rhett Jones

There was once a time when you had to call a restaurant on the phone to book a reservation. You might spend five minutes going through the whole process only to be told no tables were available. The internet and apps like Resy made all of this much more simple. Then the bots came...

Read more...

Nintendo Switch 2: Everything You Need to Know

Source by Kyle Barr

This post was updated on 6/18/24 at 9:52 a.m. to include new information from the latest Nintendo Direct. It was updated 5/8/24 at 11:55 a.m. ET to include comments from Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa.

Read more...

When It’s OK to Use AI at Work (and When It’s Not)

Source by Jake Peterson

AI can be a productivity tool, but you shouldn't get carried away.

This post is part of Lifehacker’s “Living With AI” series: We investigate the current state of AI, walk through how it can be useful (and how it can’t), and evaluate where this revolutionary tech is heading next. Read more here.

Almost as soon as ChatGPT launched in late 2022, the world started talking about how and when to use it. Is it ethical to use generative AI at work? Is that “cheating?” Or are we simply witnessing the next big technological innovation, one that everyone will either have to embrace, or fall behind dragging their feet?

AI is now a part of work, whether you like it or not

AI, like anything else, is a tool first and foremost, and tools help us get more done than we can on our own. (My job would literally not be possible without my computer.) In that regard, there’s nothing wrong, in theory, with using AI to be more productive. In fact, some work apps have fully embraced the AI bandwagon. Just look at Microsoft: The company basically conquered the meaning of “computing at work,” and it's adding AI functionality directly into its products.

Since last year, the entire Microsoft 365 suite—including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Teams, and more—has adopted “Copilot,” the company’s AI assist tool. Think of it like Clippy from back in the day, only now way more useful. In Teams, you can ask the bot to summarize your meeting notes; in Word, you can ask the AI to draft a work proposal based on your bullet list, then request it tighten up specific paragraphs you aren’t thrilled with; in Excel, you can ask Copilot to analyze and model your data; in PowerPoint, you can ask for an entire slideshow to be created for you based on a prompt.

These tools don’t just exist: They’re being actively created by the companies that make our work products, and their use is encouraged. It reminds me of how Microsoft advertised Excel itself back in 1990: The ad presents spreadsheets as time consuming, rigid, and featureless, but with Excel, you can create a working presentation in an elevator ride. We don’t see that as “cheating” work: This is work.

Intelligently relying on AI is the same thing: Just as 1990's Excel extrapolates data into cells you didn’t create yourself, 2023's Excel will answer questions you have about your data, and will execute commands you give it in normal language, rather than formulas and functions. It’s a tool.

What work shouldn’t you use AI for?

Of course, there’s still an ethical line you can cross here. Tools can be used to make work better, but they can also be used to cheat. If you use the internet to hire someone else to do your job, then pass that work off as your own, that’s not using the tool to do your work better. That’s wrong. If you simply ask Copilot or ChatGPT to do your job for you in its entirety, same deal.

You also have to consider your own company’s guidelines when it comes to AI and the use of outside technology. It’s possible your organization has already established these rules, given AI’s prominence over the past year and a half or so: Maybe your company is giving you the green light to use AI tools within reason. If so, great! But if your company decides you can’t use AI for any purpose as far as work in concerned, you might want to log out of ChatGPT during business hours.

But, let’s be real: Your company probably isn’t going to know whether or not you use AI tools if you’re using them responsibly. The bigger issue here is privacy and confidentiality, and it’s something not enough people think about when using AI in general.

In brief, generative AI tools work because they are trained on huge sets of data. But AI is far from perfect, and the more data the system has to work with, the more it can improve. You train AI systems with every prompt you give them, unless the service allows you to specifically opt out of this training. When you ask Copilot for help writing an email, it takes in the entire exchange, from how you reacted to its responses, to the contents of the email itself.

As such, it’s a good rule of thumb to never give confidential or sensitive information to AI. An easy way to avoid trouble is to treat AI like you would you work email: Only share information with something like ChatGPT you’d be comfortable emailing a colleague. After all, your emails could very well be made public someday: Would you be OK with the world seeing what you said? If so, you should be fine sharing with AI. If not, keep it away from the robots.

If the service offers you the choice, opt out of this training. By doing so, your interactions with the AI will not be used to improve the service, and your previous chats will likely be deleted from the servers after a set period of time. Even so, always refrain from sharing private or corporate data with an AI chatbot: If the developer keeps more data than we realize, and they're ever hacked, you could put your work data in a precarious place.

Twelve Things to Consider When Buying a Car (Besides the Price)

Source by Jeff Somers

Theft rates and resale value are among other important considerations.

Cars certainly aren’t cheap—the average cost of a new one is just under $50,000, and used cars are going for an average of almost $29,000. Buying a car might be necessary, but buying a new car is almost always a bad financial decision—even if you find ways to sweeten the deal. Either way, though, focusing on price alone when you're shopping for a vehicle is a bad idea—price should be just one aspect of your decision-making process.

The next time you’re on the hunt for a new or new-to-you car, make sure you take the following factors into consideration, just as much as the price.

Total cost

Instead of thinking solely about the bottom-line price of the car and assuming that if you manage to cut it down a little in the negotiation you’ve done your due diligence, consider the total ownership costs of the car. Aside from the interest you’ll pay on financing, you should also consider:

  • Maintenance costs. Cars are sinkholes of money because they are complex machines you will have to pay to have repaired and maintained. And not all cars are the same when it comes to the cost of keeping them in working order. Teslas, for example, have a 10-year maintenance and repair cost of $4,035, while Land Rovers can bleed you for an eye-popping $19,250 over a 10-year period. Add that number to the cost of the car and the interest on your financing to get a better idea of what you’re really spending.

  • Insurance costs. Not all cars cost the same to insure, so it’s worth doing some research to find out if your car will cost you $1,600 or $2,000 a year in premiums. While your own driving record and other factors go into insurance rates, the make, model, and year of the car have a lot to do with it.

  • Fuel efficiency. You might be getting a great deal on this car in terms of up-front price, and maybe you’ve even got great financing numbers. But if the car is going to cost the GDP of a small country to fuel up, it could still be a bad deal. A car with a better miles-per-gallon (MPG) rating can translate into thousands of dollars saved at the pump.

Electric vehicles (EVs) have an efficiency rating to consider, too, and you’ll be paying for the electricity to charge them up. Every EV has a rating that tells you how many miles you get out of a charged-up battery. Choosing an efficient car today will offset a higher price and enhance a lower price in the long run.

Reliability

Maintenance costs are one thing. Being able to rely on your car is crucial. If you want to have fewer mornings ruined by the sound of a starter grinding and sputtering, make sure you’re buying one of the more reliable cars on the market. For example, if you purchase a Pacifica Hybrid from Chrysler, you should make sure your bus pass is current and ready to use.

Theft rates

As the recent “Kia Boys” plague proved, your car won’t do you much good if you can’t keep it in the driveway. Even if the car you’re about to buy isn’t the target of lax security and an internet meme, you should consider how frequently it’s targeted by thieves. The most-stolen vehicle in the U.S. in 2022? The Chevy Silverado, which was boosted nearly 50,000 times that year alone. If you want to have one less headache tied to your car, buy one that thieves disdain.

Resale value

If you’re buying a new car, chances are you won’t be driving it forever—the average length of car ownership these days is a little over twelve years. So a big factor you should take into consideration when buying a new car is the resale value. All cars depreciate, but not all cars depreciate at the same rate or by the same dramatic amount. You might get a good deal on a car today, but when you try to sell it or trade it in after a few years, you might get smoked on the value—and the time to think about that is when you’re on the lot deciding which car to buy.

Warranty

Even new cars have problems, and a solid warranty can save you a lot of money and heartburn. Maybe you’re getting a good price on that car, but check the warranty to make sure you’re not getting rooked. You’ll want to know what’s covered, how much repair costs you’ll be on the hook for, how long the car is under warranty, and if specific aspects of the warranty expire at different times. You can always try to negotiate a better warranty if the standard offering isn’t great, but at least know what you’re getting for the price.

Use case

One major aspect of buying a car is the use case—the way you’ll be using the car. For example, if you need a vehicle to transport three kids and their sports equipment all over the state five days a week, buying a fun little two-seater is likely a poor decision. Make a list of the ways you’ll use the car, from your commute to grocery hauls to transporting your elderly relatives to and from family gatherings, and consider whether the features of the vehicle in question will satisfy those requirements. If not, even a great deal won’t be so great in the long run.

Safety

Even if you’ve negotiated a solid deal in financial terms and ensured you’re buying an efficient, easy-to-maintain vehicle, you should also check the safety rating before pulling the trigger. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards Top Safety Picks every year, which is an easy way to determine that the car you’re buying is safe for you, your family, and other drivers and pedestrians.

Comfort and features

If you’ve ever driven a long distance, you know that even minor problems with the seat, the climate control, or the legroom can become butt-numbing miseries. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your car—commuting, road-tripping, or ferrying your family around town—you want to know whether the car is going to be comfortable. The test drive is key here—you can’t take the vehicle to Coachella to really see if it’s comfy, but you can look for cars with a lot of adjustable features (like the steering column and seat), and don’t forget to consider the impact of noise while you drive.

Used car specifics

While most of the considerations above apply equally to used and new cars, there are some specific things to consider other than price for used cars:

  • Mileage. It’s obvious that every mile put on a car translates into wear and tear. A common-sense cutoff is about 100,000 miles, depending on the age of the car. The average driver puts about 13,476 miles on their car annually, so you can do some quick back-of-the-envelope math to figure out if the previous owner drove that car hard or not.

  • Vehicle history. You should never buy a used car without getting a vehicle history report to see if it was ever in a major accident or flood. You don’t necessarily have to pay a company like Carfax, either—you can run a check on the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) for free.

  • Condition. It might be obvious, but if you’re getting a great price on a car that ticks all the other boxes but looks like hell, think twice. Rust and scratches, ruined upholstery, a permanent odor, or an orchestra of creaks and groans when it goes over a pothole might indicate that it’s not a great buy even if all the paperwork and math says it is.

Stellar Blade

Source

Det där med att göra ett bra första intryck kan betyda mycket och när Eve landar mitt i en kaotisk krigszon känns Stellar Blade till en början inte särskilt spännande alls. Jag tycker väl dock sällan att det klassiska tutorial-partiet är direkt något underhållande, snarare oftast långt ifrån. Men som tur är så växer detta till något betydligt mer intressant bara en kort stund därefter. Många spel, i dag kanske mer än någonsin, känns som en slags mix av otroligt mycket annat men kan ändå finna sin egen identitet. Det är här som Stellar Blade, trots en drös av uppenbara inspirationskällor, ändå lyckas väldigt väl. Det är som att Bayonetta, Nier, Final Fantasy, Devil May Cry och några fler slagits ihop i en sällsam mix. Det hämtar mer inspiration från vissa av dessa titlar och mindre från andra. Resultatet känns, trots uppenbara influenser, ändå som något eget och vid flera tillfällen som något alldeles unikt.

Stellar Blade är främst ett actionspel i ett högt tempo. Det är ett stort fokus på strider där det gäller att bemästra allting Eve har i sin arsenal, som växer stadigt under äventyrets gång. För att hålla sig vid liv gäller det att parera, undvika och finna öppningar för att dela ut smisk. Det mesta med en imponerande koreografi där huvudkaraktärens långa ben ofta bjuder in till en graciös dans där och även om flytet i striderna inte är helt hundraprocentigt så är det fartfyllt, snyggt och väldigt roligt. Framförallt handlar striderna om att bygga upp energi för att kunna dela ut starkare attacker, och denna energi fås genom att parera, undvika och hugga. När man samlat på sig tillräckligt kan man sedan hålla in L-knappen eller R-knappen och välja mellan olika attacker som är starkare än de vanliga huggen som normalt delas ut. Detta är dessutom bara början för under äventyrets gång växer förmågorna starkare genom ett klassiskt färdighetsträd och man låser såklart även upp nya saker i stadig takt.
<bild>Spelet är väldigt linjärt men bjuder på en del miljöer där det öppnar upp sig ordentligt.</bild>
Något jag verkligen gillar med Stellar Blade är att allting, till och med att hitta gömda saker, ger erfarenhetspoäng. Därmed känns det roligare att göra sidouppdrag eller bara finna något som ligger lite gömt om man utforskar miljöerna lite noggrannare. Äventyret har en stundtals hög svårighetsgrad, jag skulle inte kalla den skoningslös svår men det är många strapatser som sätter en på prov och kräver hög koncentration. Att därmed kunna samla på sig dessa erfarenhetspoäng och göra Eve starkare gör att det hela tiden känns belönande att faktiskt leta och finna saker för att göra sig starkare eller låsa upp något nytt.

På tal om miljöer är detta något som verkligen gjorde att jag kände att Stellar Blade växte med tiden. Spelets första nivå är inte jättespännande, det är mörkt, grått och även om det ska vara post-apokalyptiskt så tyckte jag inte att designen eller miljöerna i sig var så roliga. Det startade också extremt linjärt, något det i mångt och mycket fortsätter att vara, så jag kände inte direkt så stor glädje över den första timmen av detta. Men det öppnar verkligen upp sig på flertalet vis, det överraskar och det engagerar mer ju längre äventyret fortsätter. Det lyckas väldigt väl med att hela tiden kännas underhållande och jag blev mer och mer investerad i både berättelsen samt att platserna man besöker känns roligare att vistas i och att de är mer visuellt tilltalande än i inledningen.

Själva storyn är kanske inte jättemycket att hurra för i helhet men det finns dock flertalet ögonblick som lyckas väl med att bryta av det annars höga tempot. Jag gillar att det reflekteras och byggs bakgrund och även om det inre stora med ett manus som berör på djupet eller känns jättespännande så fyller det sin funktion och kryddar upplevelsen med flera fina sekvenser. Man kanske inte spelar detta främst för en gripande story, men jag skulle ändå säga att den fungerar väl utan att vara fantastisk.
<bild>Fina utsikter finns det gott om.</bild>
Gällande det visuella är Stellar Blade lite av en blandad kompott men allra mest är det en bra sådan. Det är inte tekniskt supersnyggt som de allra främsta titlarna vi blivit bortskämda med, men det är absolut fint och på sina håll riktigt tjusigt. Det bjuder på tre grafiklägen där det som prioriterar upplösning och grafiskt lull-lull tyvärr kändes riktigt illa, men både balanserad och prioriterad bilduppdatering ger det hela ett bra flyt. Ett av de starkaste korten rent visuellt är de små ljuskällor som smyckar miljöerna bra och här finns även en del grafiskt imponerande vyer. Som sagt, det är inte uppe i toppen av tekniska storspel men på sina håll inte långt efter.

Gällande designen så vet ni ju redan vad det pratats mest om på förhand, och ja, Eve och vissa andra karaktärer är designade som extremt välsvarvade kvinnor. Jag lägger inget direkt värde eller tyckande kring detta, det är mestadels lite tråkig estetik på exempelvis dräkter och att karaktär ser lite livlösa ut i sina ansikten som jag tycker är större bekymmer än att man fokuserat på att ge dem iögonfallande kvinnliga behag. Man kan skratta lite åt märkligt studsande bröstfysik som stundtals känns rätt löjlig, men någonstans tycker jag hellre att det är roligare att granska den design som märks betydligt mer som helhet än just slimmade kvinnokroppar. Ansiktsanimationer är som sagt inte de bästa och det saknas det där extra som ger karaktärerna mer liv och jag hade väl heller sett att lite mer fokus lagts på det. Vår hjälte må ha en slimmad kropp men man hade gärna fått ge henne lite mer personlighet i det lite livlösa ansiktet, vilket gäller flertalet karaktärer.
<bild>Lily är en av karaktärerna som Eve stöter på under sitt äventyr.</bild>
Något som kändes väldigt unikt i Stellar Blade är dess musik. Här samsas nämligen renodlade musikaliska stycken med en hel del musik där det förekommer sång. Huruvida man uppskattar dessa beror säkerligen på om man gillar själva låtarna i sig, men jag märkte att jag tyckte att de gjorde väldigt mycket för upplevelsen samtidigt som det kändes väldigt originellt. Att löpa runt i miljöerna ackompanjerat av gladlynt popmusik kändes faktiskt fräscht och gav en bra stämning. Det kanske inte passar alla, men jag gillade detta greppet väldigt mycket och det var ytterligare ett sådant där inslag som gav detta sin egna identitet och som dessutom passade otroligt bra.

Jag var på förhand lite negativ till mycket av designen som jag inte tyckte såg så spännande ut. Jag ska inte gå så långt som att säga att jag är omvänd, men det finns ändå en hel del här som gör hela inramningen bra. Jag tror det är att det främst är en genomgående tråd i allt som fungerar bäst. Alltifrån den nyss nämnda musiken till de små viloplatserna man besöker titt som tätt där man inte bara sparar utan även kan shoppa, placera ut erfarenhetspoäng på färdigheter och annat. När man vilar så återkommer också alla fiender, minus bossar, så vill man springa runt och samla på sig mer erfarenhetspoäng så går detta utmärkt. Det finns också en design i framförallt fienderna som jag verkligen gillar, och många bossar är helt fantastiska. Eves möten med dessa är storslagna, svettigt utmanande och vinsten är belönande på precis det viset som man kan önska. Designen på mycket annat är också välgjord och ramar in hela äventyret fint och detta tycker jag då är viktigare att lyfta fram än att haka upp sig på slimmade ben och en fin rumpa.
<bild>En del möten och stunder känns väldigt stämningsfulla.</bild>
Angående designen så vill jag verkligen lyfta fram bossarna lite till. För dessa känns verkligen som ett av spelets starkaste kort. Det finns något episkt i dessa strider i alltifrån just design till att dessa strider verkligen sätter en på prov. Eves äventyr har sin beskärda del av svårare möten, också, men det blir en del dussin-strider där så när det blir lite mäktigare strider som bossarna bjuder på blir det en riktigt höjdpunkt. Det finns två svårighetsgrader från start och skulle man känna att det blir för svårt går det att växla närsomhelst.

Vid sidan om strider och utforskande är det en del klättring och små pussel som ska lösas. Det förekommer också en del passager av plattformshoppande som tyvärr är lite av den största bristen detta har. Eve är lite fladdrig i sina rörelser överlag och just i dessa moment blir detta stundtals smått frustrerande. Hon har en tendens att vilja hoppa till sin död bara om man står nära en kant och precisionen i hoppandet är överlag inte jättebra. Momenten i sig är dock ganska korta så man klarar av dem snabbt men stundtals kan det bli lite onödigt många försök just för att hoppandet inte känns perfekt. En annan negativ sak gäller det att låsa fast sig på fiender vilket jag inte tycker fungerar särskilt bra alls. Det är ofta inga problem så Eves hugg ändå landar där de ska men när det kommer till framförallt bossar så samarbetar inte det där riktigt att man låser fast på dem och således enklare kan följa.
<bild>Bossarna är stora och bjuder ofta på ett riktigt tufft motstånd.</bild>

Med sig på äventyret har Eve en drönare där hennes kompanjon Adam finns med som support. Drönaren kan användas till att scanna omgivningarna men fungerar också som ett slags sällskap för att dialog och tankar ska kunna föras fram. En kort bit in i äventyret ansluter sig även en karaktär vid namn Lily till den lilla gruppen och man stöter också på en del andra karaktärer under äventyrets gång. Det är mycket möten och överraskningar som gör att Stellar Blade lyfter till något mer än att bara kännas som ett renodlat actionspel. Man överraskar med en hel del spelmoment och miljöer kan färdas i, och det finns gott om stunder av reflektion och tankar under den i övrigt så actionpackade resan man befinner sig på. Kontrasten gör att alla delar fungerar mycket bättre när det bryts av och känns omväxlande. Jag märker att jag får ut mycket mer av upplevelsen när det känns spännande i stort sett hela tiden och när omväxlingar i både spelmoment och miljöer hela tiden presenteras.
<bild>Vid dessa små stopp kan man ta en välförtjänt paus och shoppa och fixa med sina färdigheter.</bild>
Det finns ett visst mått av att vara ett generiskt actionspel i Stellar Blade och det är väl också det som kanske hindrar det från att klättra i betyg. Samtidigt förstår jag att det är svårt att frångå ett koncept alldeles för mycket, det gör redan mycket av att kännas annorlunda ändå, och det är enbart lite finputs i vissa moment som hade behövts för att ta detta till något av de åtråvärda toppbetygen. Det är inte långt ifrån, alls faktiskt, men lite mer omsorg kring kontrollen och det visuella hade varit två saker som kunnat knuffa upp det en siffra. De allra största delarna i Stellar Blade är dock enormt välgjorda och det överraskade mig faktiskt en hel del att jag blev så underhållande som jag blev under äventyret. Det generiska återfinns en del också i återanvändet av hur man tar sig vidare där en låst dörr antingen kräver en kod eller kraftkälla för att öppnas och här hade man kunnat göra jakten på den lite mer spännande. Som det är nu finner man den nästan alltid i ett intilliggande rum och då känns denna progress att finna den rätt onödig, speciellt när det förekommer såpass mycket.

För den som suktat efter ett actionspel av denna typen så är det glädjande att kunna fastställa att Stellar Blade levererar det man hoppas på och till och med då lyckas att överraska under flertalet stunder. Det har partier som lägger sig nära fantastiskt och partier som snarare lutar åt okej så kompromissen kring betyget kändes till slut ändå naturlig. Som helhet är detta en snudd på fantastisk actionupplevelse som både överraskar och engagerar och som definitivt bör upplevas.

Disneyland Owes 100,000 Spurned Customers $67.41, and You Could Be One of Them

Source by Gordon Jackson

If you paid $1400 for a Dream Key annual pass at Disneyland between August and October of 2021, you may be entitled to a financial settlement, thanks to a new $9.5 million lawsuit.

Read more...

You Can Get More Than 500 Channels for Free on Sling Freestream

Source by Elizabeth Yuko

It's not a free trial, and doesn't require a credit card.

The streaming space is getting increasingly crowded—and expensive. Once you subscribe to the services that have your favorite shows, you could end up paying more than you did for cable. But there are still plenty of TV channels you can stream for free, including the more than 500 that are available through Sling Freestream. Here's how to access the free streaming service without a credit card, or even creating an account.

What is Sling Freestream?

Similar to Roku, Sling Freestream is a free, ad-supported streaming service with more than 500 live TV channels, plus more than 40,000 on-demand TV shows and movies. It works the same way as other streaming services, but doesn’t require a credit card or a paid Sling subscription to use. In fact, you don't even need to sign up for an account (more on that in a minute).

While you can get a one-month free trial of Sling’s paid Premium Pass, that is separate from Freestream, which is always free and not a trial. In other words, if you’re asked for your credit card info, you’re in the wrong place.

If you want confirmation that you’re in the right (i.e. free) place, look for the Freestream logo with “Always FREE TV” written below it when you open the app or visit the website.

Black background with text that reads "Sling Freestream: Always FREE TV."
Credit: Screenshot/Sling TV

How to watch Sling Freestream without an account

It’s free to set up an account, but if you’d rather skip that step, you have that option.

To access the free channels, visit watch.sling.com or sling.com/freestream and click the orange box that says “Stream Free” on your browser of choice; or download the Sling app on your smart TV, phone, tablet, or other device. That will take you to the Freestream home page.

Screenshot of Sling TV app showing orange box that says "Stream Free."
Credit: Screenshot/Sling TV

How to create a Sling Freestream account

Though you don’t need a Freestream account, having one allows you to save your favorite channels and shows, create profiles for different users, and activate parental controls. It also means Sling will keep track of what you watch and use the information to make personalized recommendations.

To create a Freestream account:

  1. Visit this website

  2. Enter your email address, a new password, and your billing ZIP code—no other credit card or payment information required.

  3. Click the white box that says “Start Streaming.” Ignore the orange “Get This Deal” box, unless you want to add a paid subscription to your account. 

Screenshot of Sling TV with white box that says "Start Streaming"
Credit: Screenshot/Sling TV

To confirm that you have Freestream access, go to Settings > Account on your device. It should say "Freestream" under "Services."

Screenshot of Sling TV account page
Credit: Screenshot/Sling TV

If you already have a paid Sling subscription, you can use the Freestream filter on your guide—or scroll to the bottom of the page—to find the channels included in this service.

What can you watch on Freestream?

You can find the 500+ live TV channels by selecting “Guide” at the top of the screen (next to "On Demand"). From there, you can scroll through them alphabetically, or broken down into categories like News, Lifestyle, True Crime, and Kids.

There are a handful of national and local news channels, a lot of professional and college sports channels, and a wide range of others, including the Architectural Digest Channel, Stories by AMC, MTV Pluto, Non-Stop '90s, and Scream Factory TV.

There are also some less traditional channel offerings, like the Supermarket Sweep Channel (dedicated entirely to episodes from the show's original 1990-2003 run), ALF (it exclusively shows episodes of the 1980s live-action sitcom about a lovable Alien Life Form and its companion animated series), and the Teletubbies Channel (where it's literally always time for Teletubbies).

A Glossary of AI Words Everyone Should Know

Source by Pranay Parab

From "machine learning" and "hallucinations" to "generative AI" and "neural networks."

This post is part of Lifehacker’s “Living With AI” series: We investigate the current state of AI, walk through how it can be useful (and how it can’t), and evaluate where this revolutionary tech is heading next. Read more here.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the latest tech revolution. Just as the cryptocurrency boom introduced the world to a whole bunch of new jargon, the AI hype train has brought with it a set of terms that are frequently used, but not always explained. If you’re wondering about the difference between a chatbot and a LLM, or between deep learning and machine learning, you’re in the right place: Here is a glossary of 20 AI-related terms, along with newbie-friendly explanations of what it all means.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

In simple terms, AI is intelligence in computers or machines, especially that which mimics human intelligence. AI is a broad term that covers many different types of machine intelligence, but the discourse around AI right now mostly centers around tools that create art, content, and summarize or transcribe content. To call these tools “intelligent” is up for debate, but AI is the term that has stuck.

Algorithm

An algorithm is a set of instructions that a program follows to give you a result. Common examples of algorithms include search engines, which show you a set of results based on your queries, or social media apps, which show content based on your interests. Algorithms allow AI tools to create predictive models, or create content or art based on your inputs.

Bias

In the context of AI, bias refers to erroneous results produced because the algorithm makes incorrect assumptions or lacks sufficient data. For example, speech recognition tools may not be able to understand certain English accents correctly because the tools were trained only with an American accent.

Conversational AI

AI tools that you can talk to, such as chatbots or voice assistants, are called conversational AI. If you're asking the assistant something yourself, it's conversational AI.

Data mining

The process of combing through large sets of data to find patterns or trends. Some AI tools use data mining to help you understand what makes people buy more items in a store or on a website, or how to optimize a business to cater to increased demand during peak hours.

Deep learning

Deep learning attempts to recreate the way the human brain learns, by utilizing three or more neural network “layers” to process large volumes of data and learn by example. These layers each process their own view of the given data and come together to reach a final conclusion.

Software for self-driving cars uses deep learning to identify stop signs, lane markers, and traffic lights, through object recognition: This is achieved by showing the AI tool many examples of what a certain object looks like (e.g., a stop sign), and through repeated training, the AI tool will eventually be able to identify that object with as close to 100% accuracy as possible.

Large language model (LLM)

A large language model (LLM) is a deep-learning algorithm that is trained on a massive data set to generate, translate, and process text. LLMs (like OpenAI’s GPT-4) allow AI tools to understand your queries and to generate text inputs based on them. LLMs also power AI tools that can identify the important parts of text or videos and summarize them for you.

Generative AI

Generative AI can generate art, images, text, or other results from your inputs, which are often powered by an LLM. It has become the catch-all term for the current AI tech many companies are now adding to their products. For example, a generative AI model can generate an image with a few text prompts, or turn a vertical photo into a wide-screen wallpaper.

Hallucination

When AI presents fiction as fact, we call that hallucinating. Hallucinations can happen when an AI’s data set isn’t accurate or its training is flawed, so it outputs an answer it’s confident on based on its available knowledge. That said, because AI is based on a complex web of networks, we don’t necessarily understand each example of hallucination. Lifehacker writer Stephen Johnson has great advice for spotting AI hallucinations.

Image recognition

The ability to identify specific subjects in an image. Computer programs can use image recognition to spot flowers in an image and name them, or to identify different species of birds in a photo.

Machine learning

When algorithms can improve themselves by learning from experience or data, it’s referred to as machine learning. Machine learning is the general practice that other AI terms we’ve discuss stem from: Deep learning is a form of machine learning, and large language models are trained through machine learning.

Natural language processing

When a program can understand inputs written in human languages, it falls under natural language processing. It’s how your calendar app understands what to do when you write, “I have a meeting at 8 p.m. at the coffee shop on Fifth Avenue tomorrow,” or when you ask Siri, “What’s the weather like today?”

Neural networks

The human brain has layers upon layers of neurons constantly processing information and learning from it. An AI neural network mimics this structure of neurons to learn from data sets. A neural network is the system that allows for machine learning and deep learning, and, at the end, allows machines to perform complex tasks such as image recognition and text generation.

Optical character recognition (OCR)

The process of extracting text from images is done via OCR. Programs that support OCR can identify handwritten or typed text, and let you copy and paste it as well.

Prompt engineering

A prompt is any series of words that you use to get a response from a program, such as generative AI. In the context of AI, prompt engineering is the art of writing prompts to get chatbots to give you the most useful responses. It’s also a field where people are hired to come up with creative prompts to test AI tools and identify its limits and weaknesses.

Reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF)

RLHF is the process of training AI with feedback from people. When the AI delivers incorrect results, a human shows it what the correct response should be. This allows the AI to deliver accurate and useful results a lot faster than it would otherwise.

Speech recognition

A program’s ability to understand human speech. Speech recognition can be used for conversational AI to understand your queries and deliver responses, or for speech-to-text tools to understand spoken words and convert them to text.

Token

When you feed a text query into an AI tool, it breaks down this text into tokens, common sequences of characters in text, which are then processed by the AI program. If you use a GPT model, for example, the pricing is based on the number of tokens it processes: You can calculate this number using the company’s tokenizer tool, which also shows you how words are broken down into tokens. OpenAI says one token is roughly four characters of text.

Training data

A training set or training data is the information that an algorithm or machine learning tool uses to learn and execute its function. For example, large language models may use training data by scraping some of the world’s most popular websites to pick up text, queries, and human expressions.

Turing Test

Alan Turing was the British mathematician known as the “father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.” His Turing Test (or “The Imitation Game”) is designed to identify if a computer’s intelligence is identical to that of a human. A computer is said to have passed the Turing Test when a human is tricked into thinking the machine’s responses were written by a human.

What to Do When There's an Excessive Heat Warning

Source by Beth Skwarecki

Including how to keep cool, where to go if you can't, and how to check on your neighbors.

Much of the eastern United States is under a heat dome right now, a weather formation that traps hot, humid air. Temperatures are in the high 90's or over 100 in many places, and these conditions are predicted to last the week. This is dangerous weather, so here’s what you should know about staying cool and staying safe.

What is an excessive heat warning?

First, let’s talk about the difference between a “warning” and a watch or outlook. A warning is the most serious of the three. As the Normal Fire Department famously explained with a taco analogy, a taco watch means that we have the ingredients to make tacos. A taco warning means you better get ready because we are having tacos right now.

Here’s how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describes these three levels:

  • An excessive heat outlook means that an excessive heat event could occur in the next three to seven days.

  • An excessive heat watch means that weather conditions are such that an excessive heat event is likely in the next 24 to 72 hours.

  • An excessive heat warning means that a dangerous level of heat is coming in the next 12 to 24 hours. The Red Cross says this means it is time to “take precautions immediately to avoid heat-related illness.”

  • A heat advisory means that dangerous heat conditions are already happening.

You can see weather statements like the above for your area by going to weather.gov, which has a big ol’ color coded map on the front page telling you which areas are under a watch or warning, and for what dangers. (Fire, wind, and flood alerts are also included.)

How to stay hydrated in a heat wave

Heat can be dangerous. If you get so hot that you cannot cool down, you’re susceptible to heat illness including heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

So, when it comes to taking care of yourself and checking on others, make sure to:

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water allows your body to cool itself through sweating. Drink before you’re thirsty, and drink plenty of water; keep sugary and alcoholic drinks to a minimum.

  • Get electrolytes. You lose sodium from your body when you sweat, but normal food intake is usually enough to replace it. Sports drinks and electrolyte tablets are convenient, too.

  • Check with your doctor if you have a condition that requires you to keep a close eye on your hydration or electrolytes. They can give you more specific guidance on how much you should be drinking. Also ask if any of your medications can make you more susceptible to extreme heat; some can.

How to keep cool in a heat wave

First, stay in the air conditioning as much as you can. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, find air conditioned places you can spend time. These might be a friend’s or family member’s house, or public places like a shopping mall or a library. Communities often set up cooling stations for heat relief. If you can’t find one, check with your local health department, with this directory that links directly to local cooling station listings where possible, or call 2-1-1.

When you have to go out, wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and stay in the shade as much as you can. Bring your water. Don’t forget sunscreen if you’ll be in the sun, and remember that not all sunscreen is sweat-proof.

The early morning and late evening will be the least hot times to be outside. Use those times for exercise, outdoor work, or other physical tasks. Plan in time to rest in the shade as needed, for example if you’re going to be walking to the store on an errand.

Electric fans are great for cooling you down if it’s mildly hot, but once temperatures are in the high 90's or above, a fan alone can’t keep you cool enough to prevent heat illness. Seek out air conditioning, or take a cold shower or bath.

How to take care of loved ones in a heat wave

The same tips that you use for yourself apply to others as well, including children, pets, and elderly neighbors. Make sure never to leave children or pets in a car in the heat, even for a short time. Double check when you leave the car that everybody has gotten out.

If you know people who don’t have air conditioning, make sure to check on them. An estimated 80% of deaths from extreme heat occur in people who are 60 or older, so definitely check in on the older folks in your life. Find out if they’re able to keep themselves cool or if they need a ride to a cooling station. Check on their pets, too.

The Red Cross advises checking on older adults and people with chronic health conditions at least twice a day, and asking these questions:

  • Are they drinking enough water?

  • Do they have access to air conditioning?

  • Do they know how to keep cool?

  • Do they show any signs of heat stress?

Know the signs of heat illness

Heat exhaustion occurs when we can’t cool ourselves down enough. It’s not an emergency yet, but could quickly get worse. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and feeling faint can all occur with heat exhaustion. The skin is usually cold, pale, clammy, and sweaty. If you’re throwing up from the heat or if your symptoms last more than an hour, it’s time to seek medical help.

Heatstroke is the next stage, and it’s an emergency. Call 911 if somebody has a high body temperature (over 103), if they act confused or drunk, if they pass out, or if they have stopped sweating and have hot, reddened skin. The CDC has more information here.

In either case, it’s important to cool the person down. (If you have called 911, do this while you wait for help.) Loosen clothes and consider a cold bath or shower, or place cool wet cloths on the person. You can offer them a sip of water if they have heat exhaustion, but skip this step if they have signs of heatstroke.

If all of this is too much to remember, the Red Cross has a printable fact sheet that includes tips for staying cool and a chart with the symptoms and recommended first aid for heat illness.

Transforming Shraddha Academy&#8217;s Online Presence with Parent-Focussed School Website Development

Source by admin

About Shraddha Academy Shraddha Academy, a renowned educational institution with three campuses across Chennai, fosters holistic development in its students. Committed to academic excellence and a nurturing environment, Shraddha Academy empowers children to become confident and future-ready leaders. The Challenge: Streamlining Information and Driving Admissions Shraddha Academy’s existing website presented challenges for prospective parents seeking…

The post Transforming Shraddha Academy’s Online Presence with Parent-Focussed School Website Development appeared first on Pixel Studios.

About Shraddha Academy

Shraddha Academy, a renowned educational institution with three campuses across Chennai, fosters holistic development in its students. Committed to academic excellence and a nurturing environment, Shraddha Academy empowers children to become confident and future-ready leaders.

The Challenge: Streamlining Information and Driving Admissions

Shraddha Academy’s existing website presented challenges for prospective parents seeking detailed information. Accessing details about each campus, facilities, and the admission process was inconvenient. To maximize admissions for the upcoming season, a website revamp was crucial.

Our Solution: A User-Centric, Mobile-First Website with Clear Admission Focus

1. Prioritizing Admissions:

Prominent Call to Action (CTA):

 A clear admission banner anchored on the website header served as a constant reminder. We also implemented a sticky side widget for easy access and ensured the mobile number was prominently displayed and clickable.

WhatsApp Integration:

Integrating WhatsApp allowed parents to initiate conversations directly from the website, fostering a more personal touch.

2. Campus-Specific Information:

Microsite Landing Pages:

We created dedicated landing pages for each of Shraddha Academy’s three campuses, essentially functioning as one-stop microsites for prospective parents. These comprehensive landing pages provided a wealth of information specific to each campus location.  

Facilities:

Visitors could explore details about the world-class facilities available at each campus, such as science labs, libraries, playgrounds, and sports complexes. 

Faculty Details :

Faculty profiles showcased the qualifications and experience of the dedicated teachers who nurture young minds at Shraddha Academy.  

Gallery :

Image galleries brimming with vibrant photos allowed visitors to virtually tour each campus and get a glimpse of the stimulating learning environment that awaits their child. 

Admission Process :

The landing pages also provided clear and concise information about the admission process for each campus, including eligibility criteria, application procedures, and important deadlines. 

Enquiry Form :

In addition, each microsite featured a dedicated enquiry form, strategically placed to encourage immediate contact from interested parents.  

This user-friendly format ensured that parents seeking information about a specific Shraddha Academy campus could find everything they needed in a convenient and organized manner. 

3. Booking School Tours:

Online Tour Bookings:

In addition to admission enquiries, the website offered the option to book a school tour online. This feature unlocked a new avenue for capturing leads from interested parents. 

4. Engaging Design:

Vibrant Aesthetics:

The website utilized a cheerful color palette and incorporated vibrant photos of students, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Interactive elements showcased key school statistics on the homepage. Mobile responsiveness ensured a seamless experience across devices. 

5. Video Testimonials:

Building Trust with Video Testimonials:

A dedicated section on the website showcased video testimonials from parents. This powerful social proof tool allowed visitors to hear firsthand about the positive experiences of students and families at Shraddha Academy. Seeing real people speak about their satisfaction with the school’s academic programs, faculty, and environment fosters trust and credibility with prospective parents. The testimonials section humanizes the admissions process and allows visitors to connect with the Shraddha Academy community on a deeper level. 

6. Dynamic News and Updates:

CMS-Powered News Sections:

Each campus received its own news section with a Content Management System (CMS) interface. This empowered school authorities to directly update the website with ongoing events, happenings, and achievements. The CMS interface is user-friendly and requires no coding knowledge, allowing school staff to add text, images, and even videos to showcase the vibrant life of each Shraddha Academy campus. This empowers them to keep parents and the community engaged with fresh content and fosters a sense of transparency and open communication. 

The Outcome

The redesigned website for Shraddha Academy achieved its primary goal – streamlining the admissions process and attracting new students. The website’s user-centric design and clear CTAs encouraged engagement, while the mobile responsiveness ensured accessibility for all users. 

Pixel Studios : A Trusted Partner for School website Development

Pixel Studios is your one-stop shop for school website development. With over 50 educational institutions under our belt, we’re seasoned professionals who understand the unique challenges and opportunities schools face in today’s digital landscape. Our team of creative designers and skilled developers is passionate about crafting websites that are not only visually appealing but also strategically designed to generate more admissions enquiries. 

Here’s what sets Pixel Studios apart:

Deep Understanding of the Education Sector:

We’ve worked with a wide range of schools, from pre-k programs to high schools, and we understand the specific needs of each. 

Focus on User Experience (UX):

We prioritize creating a user-friendly website that is easy for parents and students to navigate. 

Mobile-First Approach:

In today’s mobile-driven world, we ensure your website looks great and functions flawlessly on all devices, from desktops to tablets and smartphones. 

Data-Driven Results:

We track key metrics to measure the success of your website and make data-driven decisions to optimize for better results.

Long-Term Partnership:

We believe in building long-term partnerships with our clients. We offer ongoing support and maintenance to ensure your website stays up-to-date and continues to deliver results. 

Let's discuss ideas to propel your digital design.

(or)

The post Transforming Shraddha Academy’s Online Presence with Parent-Focussed School Website Development appeared first on Pixel Studios.

Rishi Sunak’s California escape hatch: His $7.2M beach home

Source by Emily Schultheis

The UK leader’s luxe penthouse and deep California ties have fueled speculation about where he could land if he winds up out of office.

SANTA MONICA, California — On the cusp of Muscle Beach, overlooking the Pacific to the west and the mountains of Malibu to the north, lies a $7.2 million home owned by Britain’s prime minister — and a wealth of questions about his future.

Rishi Sunak is fighting for political survival in the U.K.’s July 4 snap election, with polls predicting an astonishing defeat for his Conservative Party. That’s fueled speculation given his ties to California that he could relocate if he soon finds himself out of the top job.

The Golden State has become an issue in the election campaign, so much so that “sending Sunak to California” is political shorthand for ousting him from office.

The British prime minister has made no secret of his affinity for and ties to California, saying his time living and working here — he studied at Stanford, met his wife there and ran a hedge fund in Santa Monica before returning to the U.K. to enter politics — have helped shape how he thinks as a leader.

It’s also defined how other leaders think of him.

During a meeting last year with Joe Biden in San Diego, the U.S. president joked: “I want to welcome you back to California — he’s a Stanford man, and he still has a home here in California. That’s why I’m being very nice to you, maybe you can invite me to your home in California.”

Sunak has rejected the notion that he will leave for California if he loses the election, amid suggestions his former Stanford pals are lining up lucrative gigs for him in Silicon Valley, especially since he’s sought to be a leading voice on artificial intelligence, becoming friendly with key figures like Elon Musk.

But that hasn’t stopped his political opponents — and the British public — from wondering whether he might decamp to warmer climes if the Conservatives do as badly as polls suggest.

If he did, he’d be able to trade the cloudy skies of London for the warm ocean breeze of Santa Monica, which boasts around 3,250 sunshine hours per year — nearly twice that of London — as well as a thriving tech scene that has earned the area the moniker of “Silicon Beach.”

On a recent afternoon in Santa Monica, the palm trees swayed in the afternoon sun next to the luxury apartment building in which Sunak and his wife own their penthouse. The building, constructed in 2014, offers a Starbucks on the ground floor and a brunch spot serving a $34 eggs Benedict with fresh crab and wasabi hollandaise sauce.

Just two blocks down the street, tanned and toned athletes worked out on Muscle Beach; locals rode bikes along the sandy shore while tourists snapped photos with the iconic sign at the Santa Monica Pier nearby. And should Sunak find himself missing the halls of government, his apartment is only a few minutes’ walk away from the art deco façade of the Santa Monica City Hall.

His children would likely have their pick of elite schools in the area, rubbing shoulders with the children of celebrities — if they moved immediately after the election, they’d be here in time to start the new school year in California. Santa Monica is home to the prestigious Crossroads School, for example, which led a recent Vulture list of top schools for “nepo babies.” And not far away is Harvard-Westlake, which touts Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ethan Peck as famous alumni.

The neighborhood also has plenty to offer a British expat: Were Sunak to grow homesick here, he’d need to walk only a few blocks to Ye Olde King’s Head, a British shop and pub downtown.

On the day of England’s first soccer match in the UEFA European championship in mid-June, the pub was full of jersey-wearing England fans whose reactions to the prospect of Sunak coming to California ranged from mild enthusiasm to indifference to, in one case, profanities and a rude hand gesture.

James Stokes, an English expat living nearby, said he didn’t realize Sunak owned a home in the area until a week prior, when he saw an Instagram reel about Sunak’s past. Initially hopeful that Sunak would bring much-needed diversity to the office of prime minister, “he’s just disappointed me,” Stokes said.

“If he ended up moving back here, I think he’d be a bit of a target,” he said. “There’s a big expat community, and I don’t think he’d be welcomed particularly warmly here.” (“I don’t think many people here would buy him a pint,” said his friend, Tom Walker, gesturing around the pub.)

“I could see them being very happy here with the resources they have,” said Tatiana Bicat, who’s originally from Oxford but has lived in California for nearly 20 years. “I’m sure [Sunak] would be attracted to all the things we were when we moved here.” (Asked if she’d realized he had a condo nearby, she said yes — in a city full of Hollywood stars, he’s “just another celebrity” with a place in the area, she shrugged.)

Many wondered why Sunak wouldn’t choose to relocate to sunny Santa Monica if he had that option, and why he’s even running to stay in Downing Street in the first place. “I mean, who wouldn’t move back to California?” Fraser Bradbrook, a young English man, told POLITICO while sipping a pint just ahead of game time. “If I were him, I’d do the same thing.”

Strong ties to California

Sunak wouldn’t be the first former government official to cross the pond and take a cushy job in California, but the state plays a particularly special role in his biography.

He has recalled in interviews how he met his wife Akshata Murty during his time studying at Stanford, where he won a Fulbright scholarship to get his MBA. Sunak recently revealed that he took up running in and around the Stanford campus as a ploy to ingratiate himself with Murty, an avid runner herself.

A British journalist, who knew Sunak and his roommates and stayed at the house for a period of time, told POLITICO they were surprised by how little Sunak discussed politics at the time.

“I was trying to become a journalist at the time and fascinated by politics, both in the U.K. and beyond, so I generally spoke to most people about politics before too long,” said the journalist, who was granted anonymity to speak frankly. “He never spoke about politics to me [and] I was very surprised when he first ran to be an MP.”

The journalist said Sunak and his friends lived a life that was “very comfortable for students, though not lavish.” They weren’t a hard-partying crowd, opting instead for an active lifestyle and a lot of time riding their bikes.

“He — and they — struck me as a high-achieving, very well-mannered, friendly bunch who spent their holidays raising money for charity with pretty high-end physical challenges,” the journalist said. “They were all people with big ambition.”

After graduating from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in 2006, Sunak went to work in investment for Goldman Sachs and the British hedge fund TCI in London — but moved back to California again a few years later to run his own hedge fund, Theleme Partners.

Even since becoming prime minister in October 2022, Sunak has maintained his ties to California. He has taken only one overseas family holiday since the Covid-19 pandemic — to their home in Santa Monica. Official images from the trip showed Sunak, Murty and their two daughters playing games at the sun-soaked Santa Monica Pier.

The family also went to Disneyland in nearby Anaheim: Sunak, a self-avowed Star Wars superfan, said at the time that he was particularly excited to spend time dragging his family around the section of the theme park dedicated to the series.

One local shop owner in Santa Monica said she saw the Sunaks arriving to eat at a restaurant down the street from her store during the same California visit. Locals are used to celebrity sightings, so seeing Sunak didn’t faze her — but the security they brought with them, which the shop owner said consisted of eight to 10 high-end SUVs, was notable and stopped traffic.

A campaign issue

Despite Sunak’s public denials about a potential post-election future in California, his ties here have become an issue in Britain’s election campaign.

The prime minister has been repeatedly pressed about whether he would escape to California, and critics point out that compared with the cramped, official flat above Downing Street he has lived in for the past 18 months, his California bolthole is clearly a place he feels comfortable.

After coming under intense pressure to say whether or not he would leave London, Sunak finally spoke out during a campaign stop in the traditional Conservative shire of Amersham, committing to remain as an MP for the next five years if the Tories lose on July 4.

“It’s simply not true. I mean, it’s just simply not true,” Sunak said in an interview with ITV late last month, adding that “of course” he’s committed to staying in the U.K.

“This is my home,” he said. “I mean, my football team just got promoted back in the Premiership and I hope to be watching them for years to come in the Premier League.”

For many, however, a move west seems to make sense. During his short time in office, Sunak has sought to position the U.K. as a global leader in AI, leading to reports that he could seek refuge from the turbulent British political scene by heading to Silicon Valley to work in the field.

In April, a spokesperson was forced to deny a report that a Stanford friend, who works at a leading tech firm, had told colleagues people were “putting together plans for an AI venture capital fund for Rishi to run when he’s no longer prime minister.”

The opposition Labour Party seized on a chummy interview Sunak conducted with X owner Elon Musk last November at the U.K.’s AI Safety Summit at the historic Bletchley Park to accuse him of cozying up to American tech titans instead of platforming British startups.

Sunak himself has played up his California ties as he built his political persona in the U.K.

“I actually think it’s one of the reasons that I would be good at this job,” he said in 2022 during the Conservatives’ leadership contest that year. “Because what I will bring to this job is a way of thinking that is different.”

“When we think about growth and in a modern economy, how do you drive growth — you drive it through innovation,” he continued. “Because of my experience, I know how to build that type of economy.”

This isn’t the first time Sunak’s ties to the U.S. have been a political liability. He came under fire in 2022 when it emerged that he held a U.S. green card, which grants permanent residency, until 2021, returning it ahead of his first official trip to the U.S. as a U.K. government minister.

The news that he’d kept his green card while serving as an MP and as chancellor of the exchequer came shortly after it emerged that his wife, the daughter of the Indian billionaire founder of Infosys, has kept “non-dom” status since the couple returned to the U.K., meaning she may have avoided millions of pounds in U.K. taxes on her overseas earnings.

The couple are now so wealthy they are officially richer than King Charles, according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.

A well-trodden path

Were Sunak to return to California, he’d be far from the only British politician — or European conservative leader — to give in to the allure.

Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister from the Liberal Democrats, joined Facebook in 2018, a year after leaving parliament, and now serves as Meta’s president for global affairs.

And when Austria’s Sebastian Kurz resigned as chancellor over a corruption scandal in 2021, he took a job with Peter Thiel’s Thiel Capital, splitting his time between California and the Austrian capital of Vienna.

There’s also Steve Hilton, the former Downing Street aide to David Cameron, who moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for a fellowship at Stanford University — and has stayed in Silicon Valley with his family ever since.

Hilton didn’t have any particular advice for Sunak, telling POLITICO that he hoped (though was not optimistic) the Conservatives would hold onto power and Sunak would remain in Downing Street: “I want him to succeed — I don’t want him to lose the election and then come to California,” he said.

But California is the “land of opportunity for many,” he added, and were Sunak and his family to come here, “he could have a great future here.”

“I’m here to be a welcome-to-California guide if such a role is needed,” Hilton quipped.

Stefan Boscia, Joseph Bambridge and Tom Bristow in London contributed to this report.

Chiquita is ordered to pay millions to families of death squad victims in Colombia

Source by John Otis

A landmark verdict orders Chiquita, one of the worlds largest banana companies, to pay millions of dollars in damages to the relatives of eight Colombian men murdered by a paramilitary death squad.

A landmark verdict orders Chiquita, one of the worlds largest banana companies, to pay millions of dollars in damages to the relatives of eight Colombian men murdered by a paramilitary death squad.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II

Source

När {Senua's Saga: Hellblade II} annonserades som den första exklusiva Xbox Series S/X-titlen (i samband med att själva konsolen avtäcktes under vintern 2019) var det nog inte många som tänkte att vi skulle behöva genomlida 4,5 år till innan vi faktiskt skulle få lov att spela äventyret i fråga. Väntan har således både varit lång och tämligen brokig för utvecklaren Ninja Theory, men nu när vi ännu en gång har fått brottas med Senuas såväl hämmande som hjälpande hjärnspöken så kan man lugnt konstatera att detta är en upplevelse värd att pina sitt svaga psyke igenom. Som regelrätt TV-spel finns det visserligen fortfarande en hel del, precis som det var med originalet, att önska, men det går inte att förneka att detta är en åktur utöver det vanliga, och alla med en Xbox Game Pass-prenumeration har sannerligen något unikt att ta del av.
<bild>Senua är en mentalt tyngd själ, men hon är sannerligen inte maktlös för den sakens skull.</bild>
Huruvida du kommer att uppskatta denna andra del i Senua-sagan handlar dock väldigt mycket om hur du tyckte om originalet, eller inte. Mycket är nämligen sig likt från hur det såg ut år 2017, och det är än en gång ett stort fokus på en långsamt utvecklande - om än väldigt engagerade - story, och spelbarheten som existerar är mager utan att ge någon direkt känsla av makt eller kontroll till en som spelare. Du hänger med på resa helt enkelt, och om du gillar att spela spel för deras story och den generella atmosfären, utan några direkta krav på medryckande spelbarhet så kommer Hellblade II underhålla er från första till sista stund. För detta är ett nervkittlande drama som fortsätter där del ett lämnade oss, och ännu en gång får vi följa med Senua genom den ena faran efter den andra i hennes kamp om att försöka ställa saker till rätta.
<bild>Hello Darkness my old friend.</bild>
Jag ska inte avslöja allt för mycket om storyn som väntar, men kortfattat kan man förtälja att det på nytt vankas ett mentalt som fysiskt mörker fult av död, elände och ångest. Senuas mentala problematik med rösterna i huvudet är fortfarande närvarande, och ännu en gång gör de ett gott jobb med att både föra berättelsen framåt samtidigt som de adderar emotionell vikt i specifika scener. De erbjuder även en hel del spelmässig hjälp för en som spelare, detta då det inte finns någon HUD att tala om eller markörer som visar vart du ska gå. Dessa enerverande viskningar lyckas dock hålla en uppdaterad om det mest väsentliga, och även om det emellanåt kan vara väldigt subtila antydningar så finns de andra gånger där de nästan snudd på regelrätt säger åt dig vad du ska göra om du känner att du börjar tappa bort dig.
<bild>Hellblade II består av mycket mörka toner vilket får varma nyanser att sticka ut rejält när de väl gör entré.</bild>
Spelmässigt så är det sedan återigen en ytterst linjär saga vi slungas in i, och även om miljöerna många gånger ser grandiosa och storslagna ut på distans så är det mest små passager och korridorer som faktiskt går att utforska. Det finns dessutom inget direkt incitament till att ens vilja utforska (om man ska vara ärlig) då landskapet mer agerar som en regelrätt kuliss eller skådeplats till dramat som utspelar sig på skärmen utan några större hemligheter att ta del av eller påskägg att hitta. Visst, emellanåt får man leta efter någon symbol, springa igenom en brinnande by eller slåss mot mordiska vildar, men allt detta är så kopiöst strömlinjeformat och styrt av utvecklarna att det stundtals känns som man fraktas runt på en räls från den ena händelsen till den andra. Striderna ska däremot sägas vara betydligt mer actionladdade den här gången, och det finns en viss form av spelmässigt djup där det gäller att lära sig parera inkommande slag samtidigt som man måste matcha in sina egna motanfall. Det är förvisso inget extraordinärt system på något sätt, men den extremt filmiska framtoningen gör mycket för att höja inlevelsen, och då majoriteten av innehållet i detta äventyr annars mest handlar just om att gå runt i olika miljöer så var dessa bataljer ett ytterst välkommet inslag för att liva upp stämningen och få pulsen att öka.
<bild>Miljöerna är magnifika, men håll dig på stigen om du inte vill slå näsan i en osynlig vägg.</bild>
Den som sedan har följt förhandsmaterialet till Senua's Saga: Hellblade II har givetvis kunnat notera att det rör sig om ett väldigt vackert och tekniskt tjusigt äventyr, och även när man sitter med kontrollen i näven är det tydligt att Ninja Theory har lagt ner mycket tid till att få detta att se visuellt tilltalande ut. Ansiktsmodellerna är i synnerhet otroligt livliga, och att se känslospelet påverka muskelgrupperna runt karaktärers munnar, näsor och ögon gav verkligen en förnimmelse av att dessa personer var tredimensionella varelser fulla av egna motiv, känslor och idéer. Det ska dock noteras att grafiken emellanåt kan uppfattas som något "suddig" då utvecklarna verkar använda sig av ett ytterst skarpt fokus för att styra vart våra ögon ska fästa blicken vid. Är liksom en modell i fokus så är de knivskarps-tydliga, men en centimeter åt ett annat håll kan leda till att en "grötig" effekt infinner sig där drag och detaljer snabbt suddas ut. Jag tippar dock att detta främst är ett konstnärligt val då mycket av det man visar upp utspelar sig i mörker, och den ökade suddigheten adderar en känsla av tvetydighet och osäkerhet som gifter sig väl med historien man vill berätta. Jämför man annars till exempel med ett spel som {God of War: Ragnarök} så har Santa Monica ett betydligt mer förlåtande fokus där mer av modellerna och miljön kan uppfattas som tydliga oavsett om de är helt centrerade i kameralinsen eller inte.
<bild>Striderna är välkoreograferade och intensiva.</bild>
Sett till ljud-aspekten bevisar Ninja Theory förövrigt ännu en gång att man har ljudtekniker i absoluta världsklass, och man renommerades starkt att använda ett par bra hörlurar för att ta del av briljansen på bästa tänkbara sätt. Visst, du kan fortfarande använda ljudet från din TV eller från ditt ljudsystem om du måste, men det märks tydligt att upplevelsen verkligen är skräddarsydd för att man ska få uppleva paniken, ångesten, allt tvivel och den ständiga dramatiken som pågår inuti Senuas huvud mellan sina egna två öron. För när rösterna börjar snurra från det ena hörselgången till det andra så sjunker man snabbt ner i samma oförlåtande hav av känslor som vår huvudperson tvingas vada genom hela tiden, och interaktionen blir så otroligt mycket mer kraftfull om man verkligen tillåter sig själv att drunkna i känslospelet som utspelar sig över såväl skärmen som i ens eget huvud fullt ut.
<bild>Nope.</bild>
Om man slutligen ska försöka sammanfatta så är Senua's Saga: Hellblade II mer av det som vi kom att uppskatta från originalet år 2017. Allt från det visuella till kontrollen och ljudet har uppgraderas för att hålla en stundom magnifik kvalitet, och berättelsen är lika ödesmättad och känsloladdad som en episk Doom Metal-platta under en kall och melankolisk höstdag i november. Man kastas som åskådare ständigt mellan förtvivlan och än mer förtvivlan, men mellan allt elände och misär finns det därtill ett mikroskopiskt skimmer av hopp som får en att vilja se vad som väntar bakom nästa kallsup av ångestfylld stress och panik. Det spelmässiga är sedan kanske det största minuset då man som spelare aldrig känner sig speciellt involverad i det som händer på skärmen, och även om stridssystemet har förbättrats från det vi upplevde i föregångaren så känns det inte riktigt tillräckligt för att man ska kunna dela ut något av de absoluta toppbetygen.

Men att Senua's Saga: Hellblade II är ett väldigt bra spel råder det däremot inga tvivel om. Upplevelsen är tätt, medryckande och känslofylld, och som rent spektakel så var det längesen man kände sig så här hänförd av ett stycke digital underhållning. Minusen finns där såklart, men låt inte dessa små skavanker hindra er från att ge denna uppföljare ett ärligt försök. Du kommer kanske inte ha den roligaste stunden (svårt att slå klackarna i taket när rummet är fullt av ångest och mental ohälsa), men jag är bergsäker på att du i alla fall kommer att känna något - och det är verkligen inte fy skam det heller.
<bild>Alla bra spel får inte en att må bra.</bild>

Learn AutoCAD Basics: DAY 18

Source by Andreea

Learn AutoCAD Basics: DAY 18

We are slowly but surely approaching the end of this series. It has been a good number of days, and we’ve been getting our fit wet with these AutoCAD challenges. If this is your first time here, I suggest you check the list of all tutorials. This should be among the easiest of the series ...

Read more

Learn AutoCAD Basics: DAY 18

We are slowly but surely approaching the end of this series. It has been a good number of days, and we’ve been getting our fit wet with these AutoCAD challenges. If this is your first time here, I suggest you check the list of all tutorials.

This should be among the easiest of the series at the moment. You will agree with me that if this exercise appeared earlier that would look more difficult than it should, at this point.

With all you have accomplished so far, this should be a piece of cake, just helping you retrain some of the stuff you have been learning here.

In this challenge, it could be required to use the ROTATE command and the OFFSET command a lot. So, feel free to check out those if needed beforehand.

Learn AutoCAD basics

Figure 1

2d image

Figure 2

The following figure is exercise without annotation.

2d autocad exercise

Execution

After many people asked for the solution to this challenge, I decided to explain a lot more in the following steps what you need to do to solve the challenge.

Spoiler alert: You might need to try figuring it out yourself before checking the solution. You can pause here and go trying to solve it on your own before checking how I did it.

Step 1

Draw the following circles

CAD exercise

The red line is straight. On the upper side, it intersects with the green circle R144, allowing us to place the two circles R15 (Use the information about the angle to place them; the black line is horizontal). On the lower side, the same red line intersects with the blue circles R225 (resulting from 150+75) and R150. Each of the intersecting points should allow you to find the centers of the two blue circles R20.

The red circles, R56 and R18, have the same center, which you can find using information from the exercise.

Step 2

Delete other circles and create the two new ones in the picture below. (R129 and R159)

cad exercise

Step 3

Delete R144. Trim the two biggest circles and the two green circles to have the following.

CAD image

Step 4

OFFSET is the piece we just created with an offset distance of 15. Join the two blue circles with straight lines and trim them to have the following.

circle

Step 5

Use the tan tan Radius technique to create these circles.

bunch of 2 circles

Step 6

Create a line from the end of the blue arc and tangent to R60, as shown below.

bunch of 2d circle

Step 7

Trim all unnecessary parts and There you have it!

2d exercise autocad

And here you go. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.

Learn AutoCAD Basics in 21 DAYS

Caracoles

Source

Es! Car! Goooooooooooooot! Jag köper att idén mest troligt lät superskoj på pappret, på förhand. Låt oss... Låt oss göra världens långsammaste racingspel. Där spelaren tvingas gnida omkring med en snigel i cirka 1km/h. Jaaaaa! Roligt-roligt-roligt. Och nog låter det lite skoj alltid, som den ultimata motsägelsen. Snigeln är hopplöst seg och slö. Hans små slemmiga tentakler skumpar runt som antenner i takt med hur hans oformbart degiga hög till kroppshydda flyter fram i ohyggligt seg takt. Det hade kunnat vara roligt att spela också, men det är det inte.
<bild>Märkligt är det i alla fall, så det räcker och blir över.</bild>
Caracoles är designat på ett vis som gjort att det fått en del uppmärksamhet på förhand och som gammal grafisk designer uppskattar jag verkligen presentationen. Det påminner nästan inte om nånting annat utan ser mer ut som en mix mellan mina gymnasieårs kluddbok och en riktigt ettrig feberdröm. Neonfärger, pixlade kanter, handritade typsnitt, sniglar med gigantiska munnar innehållande nästan enbart tandkött och tänder och ljudet hakar mer än gärna på. Musiken kommer inte sällan ur trumpeter, eller olika typer av flöjter och det finns en röst också som med jämna mellanrum skriker något godtyckligt. Allt det där uppskattas av mig. Jag gillar när det är originellt, märkligt och urflippat. Synd bara att själva spelbarheten är bedrövlig.
<bild>Mitt bästa tips: Skippa allt vad sniglar heter.</bild>
Du styr din neongröna snigel med pekfingret. Din snigel uppenbara sig under ditt finger så snart du börjar föra det från A-punkten och mot målet, B. Detta leder naturligtvis till att du inte ser snigeln under ditt finger vilket sabbar halva grejen, detta gör också att utmaningen med att "hålla sig inom banans gränser" blir onödigt krångligt. Ofta avslutas mitt lopp för att jag brutit mot reglerna och helt enkelt kört utanför banan, något som ibland inte ens går att förutse. Det är heller aldrig roligt. Bara långsamt. Designen och de urflippade illustrationerna är verkligen allt i det här spelet som har något slags värde. Resten rimmar verkligen på "nothingness".

YouTube Is Experimenting With a Way to Kill Ad Blockers for Good

Source by Jake Peterson

YouTube really wants you to pay for Premium, or deal with its ads.

YouTube is getting aggressive in its fight against ad blockers. According to the developer of SponsorBlock, an extension that automatically skips ahead of sponsored content in videos, YouTube is now experimenting with "server-side ad injection."

This is quite the escalation. In short, server-side ad injection means YouTube is adding advertisements to the video stream itself. Currently, the company delivers its ads to users as a separate video before the video you chose to watch. That allows ad blockers to identify the ad, stop it from playing, and load your video directly. If the ad is part of the video, however, the traditional ad blocker strategy breaks.

Even though SponsorBlock isn't an ad blocker, this change would break its services, too, as adding ads to the video itself throws off the timestamps of the video. SponsorBlock relies on these timestamps to skip ahead of sponsored segments: As ads vary in length and number, timestamp changes will be unpredictable, and tools like SponsorBlock won't work as they're currently designed.

It's the latest development in the running battle between YouTube and third-party ad blockers. While YouTube has always dissuaded viewers from using ad blockers, the company started cracking down on the tool last year: When using certain ad blockers in some browsers, users saw a pop-up warning them to disable their ad blocker. If they continued to use their ad blocker, they may find that YouTube wouldn't load for them at all. Even if YouTube didn't block videos entirely, the site might artificially slow down load times, or skip to the end of the video. YouTube has also gone after third-party clients with ad blockers built-in, so those are no longer a reliable alternative.

This new server-side injection strategy is not official policy yet, and is only reportedly in testing, but it's clear YouTube isn't backing down here—and it's not difficult to understand why. YouTube's main source of revenue, as with many corners of the internet, is advertising. By using an ad blocker, users block both YouTube and its creators from generating money from views.

Of course, using the internet without an ad blocker is a bit miserable, and has been for years. With the concerning rise of malicious advertising, too, using an ad blocker is actually good cybersecurity practice. Hell, even the FBI recommends you use one.

For YouTube, there's a clear solution: YouTube Premium. If you subscribe, you can watch YouTube mostly ad-free, without worrying about using an ad blocker that will break your experience with the site. While avid YouTube fans might find value in the service, as it also comes with YouTube Music, casual YouTube users might balk at adding another subscription to their ever-growing list of streaming services. There is a one-month free trial, so you can try it out without financial commitment. And if you are interested, YouTube now offers the following plans:

  • Individual: $13.99 per month, or $139.99 per year (saves $27.89)

  • Family: $22.99 per month, for you plus five others in your household

  • Student: $7.99 per month

The 2030 Self-Driving Car Bet

Source by Jeff Atwood

It's my honor to announce that John Carmack and I have initiated a friendly bet of $10,000* to the 501(c)(3) charity of the winner’s choice:

By January 1st, 2030, completely autonomous self-driving cars meeting SAE J3016 level 5 will be commercially available for

It's my honor to announce that John Carmack and I have initiated a friendly bet of $10,000* to the 501(c)(3) charity of the winner’s choice:

By January 1st, 2030, completely autonomous self-driving cars meeting SAE J3016 level 5 will be commercially available for passenger use in major cities.

I am betting against, and John is betting for.

By “completely autonomous”, per the SAE level 5 definition, we mean the vehicle performs all driving tasks under all conditions – except in the case of natural disasters or emergencies. A human passenger enters the vehicle and selects a destination. Zero human attention or interaction is required during the journey.

By "major cities" we mean any of the top 10 most populous cities in the United States of America.

To be clear, I am betting against because I think everyone is underestimating how difficult fully autonomous driving really is. I am by no means against self driving vehicles in any way! I'd much rather spend my time in a vehicle reading, watching videos, or talking to my family and friends … anything, really, instead of driving. I also think fully autonomous vehicles are a fascinating, incredibly challenging computer science problem, and I want everyone reading this to take it as just that, a challenge. Prove me wrong! Make it happen by 2030, and I'll be popping champagne along with you and everyone else!

(My take on VR is far more pessimistic. VR just… isn't going to happen, in any "changing the world" form, in our lifetimes. This is a subject for a different blog post, but I think AR and projection will do much more for us, far sooner.)

I'd like to thank John for suggesting this friendly wager as a fun way to generate STEM publicity. He is, and always will be, one of my biggest heroes. Go read Masters of Doom if you haven't, already!

And while I have you, we're still looking for code contributions in our project to update the most famous programming book of the BASIC era. Proceeds from that project will also go to charity. 😎

* We may adjust the amount up or down to adjust for inflation as mutually agreed upon in 2030, so the money has the desired impact.

The Right Way to Roll up and Store Your Belts

Source by Lindsey Ellefson

Don't lose your head trying to keep your pants up.

Slowly but surely, I'm going to revolutionize your closet. From shoes to bags, there are so many accessories to collect and flaunt, but they really do take up a ton of space, so finding solutions for storing every kind of adornment should be a priority for anyone living a fashion forward lifestyle.

But even if you're not, and you don't have a closet overflowing with purses and footwear, you almost certainly have a small (or not so small) collection of belts. Here's a good way to organize it.

How to roll your belts for storage so they won't come undone

Until I saw the following technique floating around TikTok, I was storing my belts by hanging them over the handle on my closet door. This is wrong. They were always falling off, dragged down by the weight of the buckle on one end—and the weight of said buckle can actually stretch and damage more delicate belts over time. You could get some hooks and hang all your belts up somewhere by the buckle, but that takes up wall space. Instead,you should be rolling your belts to help them maintain their shape.

But it's hard to keep belts rolled up, right? They just keep coming undone, right? Not if you try this method that's been trending on social media:

Using the buckle for stability, you thread the belt backward through it and pull it almost all the way through, creating a small hole. Then, start rolling up the belt from the other side, and stuff the resulting spiral into the hole you made. I tried this method out and found it to be easy to execute and effective at keeping my belts all wound up in an easy-to-stack shape. But why stop there?

Belts hanging and belts folded up
Before (bad) vs. after (good) Credit: Lindsey Ellefson

How to store all your belts

You can tuck your newly-miniaturized belts in a stack on a shelf, in a drawer, or in a box—I recommend a small one that will help keep them organized and secure, like this one:

But I prefer another method I recently encountered, because I think there's value in making it easy to see all your options when you're picking out what to wear. So instead, stack your belts on a paper towel holder, like this one:

The little arm that's supposed to secure the paper towels to the roll will hold the belts in place and keep them rolled up, and stacking them this way will give you a better sense of what you've got, and save you from digging through a box looking for that one specific belt.

Updating The Single Most Influential Book of the BASIC Era

Source by Jeff Atwood

In a way, these two books are responsible for my entire professional career.

With early computers, you didn't boot up to a fancy schmancy desktop, or a screen full of apps you could easily poke and prod with your finger. No, those computers booted up to the command

In a way, these two books are responsible for my entire professional career.

With early computers, you didn't boot up to a fancy schmancy desktop, or a screen full of apps you could easily poke and prod with your finger. No, those computers booted up to the command line.

From here, if you were lucky, you might have a cassette tape drive. If you knew the right commands, you could type them in to load programs from cassette tape. But that was an expensive add-on option with early personal computers. For many of us, if we wanted the computer to do anything, we had to type in entire programs from books like 101 Basic Computer Games, by hand... like so.

Yep, believe it or not, circa 1983, this was our idea of a good time. No, we didn't get out much. The book itself was a sort of greatest hits compilation of games collected from Ahl's seminal Creative Computing magazine in the 1970s:

As soon as Ahl made up his mind to leave DEC, he started laying the groundwork for Creative Computing. He announced intentions to publish the magazine at NCC in June 1974 and over the next few months contacted prospective authors, got mailing lists, arranged for typesetting and printing, and started organizing hundreds of other details.

In addition, he also moved his family to Morristown, NJ, and settled into his new job at AT&T. He had little spare capital, so he substituted for it with "sweat equity." He edited submitted articles and wrote others. He specified type, took photos, got books of "clip art," drew illustrations, and laid out boards. He wrote and laid out circulation flyers, pasted on labels, sorted and bundled mailings.

By October 1974, when it was time to specify the first print run, he had just 600 subscribers. But Ahl had no intention of running off just 600 issues. He took all the money he had received, divided it in half, and printed 8000 copies with it. These rolled off the presses October 31, 1974. Ahl recounts the feeling of euphoria on the drive to the printer replaced by dismay when he saw two skids of magazines and wondered how he would ever get them off the premises. Three trips later, his basement and garage were filled with 320 bundles of 25 magazines each. He delivered the 600 subscriber copies to the post office the next day, but it took nearly three weeks to paste labels by hand onto the other 7400 copies and send them, unsolicited, to libraries and school systems throughout the country.

I also loved Creative Computing, but it was a little before my time:

  • 1971 – Ahl ports the programs from FOCAL to BASIC.
  • 1973 – 101 BASIC Computer Games is first published by DEC.
  • 1974 – Ahl founds Creative Computing magazine and acquires the rights to the book from DEC.
  • 1977 – the “trinity” of Apple II 🖥️, PET ️🖥️, and TRS-80 🖥️ microcomputers are released to the public, all with BASIC built in, at prices regular people could mostly afford 🙌
  • 1978 – a second edition of BASIC Computer Games is released, this time published by Ahl himself.

As you can see, there’s no way average people in 1973-1976 were doing a whole lot with BASIC programs, as they had no microcomputers capable of running BASIC to buy! It took a while for inexpensive personal computers to trickle down to the mainstream, which brings us to roughly 1984 when the sequels started appearing.

There was a half-hearted attempt to modernize these early BASIC programs in 2010 with SmallBasic, but I didn't feel these ports did much to bring the code up to date, and overall had little relevance to modern code practices. You can compare the original 1973 BASIC Civil War with the 2010 SmallBasic port to see what I mean:

Certainly we can do a bit better than merely removing the line numbers? What about our old buddy the subroutine, merely the greatest invention in computer science? It's nowhere to be seen. 🤔

So it was with considerable enthusiasm that I contacted David H. Ahl, the author, and asked for permission to create a website that attempted to truly update all these ancient BASIC programs.

Thankfully, permission was granted. It's hard to understate how important this book was to an entire generation of programmers. At one point, there were more copies of this book in print than there were personal computers, period!

... in 1973, DEC published an anthology, 101 BASIC Computer Games. The book quickly went into a second printing, for a total of 10,000 copies sold. “That was far more books than there were computers around, so people were buying three, four, five of them for each computer.”

It went on to be the first computer book to sell a million copies. Quite a legacy.

I think we owe it to the world to bring this book up to date using modern, memory safe languages that embody the original spirit of BASIC, and modern programming practices including subroutines.

So let's do this. Please join us on GitHub, where we're updating those original 101 BASIC games in 10 memory safe, general purpose scripting languages:

  • Java / Kotlin
  • Python
  • C#
  • VB.NET
  • JavaScript
  • Ruby
  • Perl
  • Lua

(Edit: as of March 2022, we've a) offered Kotlin as an alternative to Java, b) removed Pascal since we can't guarantee memory safety there, and replaced it with Rust, which very much can, and c) added Lua which just cracked the top 20 in TIOBE and strongly meets the scripting and memory safe criteria.)

Now, bear in mind these are very primitive games from the 1970s. They aren't going to win any awards for gameplay, or programming sophistication. But they are precious artifacts of early computing that deserve to be preserved for future generations, including the wonderful original art by George Beker.

We need your help to do this right, and collaboratively together, as with all modern programming projects. Imagine we're all typing these programs in simultaneously together online, all over the world, instead of being isolated alone in our room in 1984, cursing at the inevitable typo we made somewhere when typing the code in by hand out of the book🤬.

Thanks Mr. Ahl. And a big thanks to everyone who contributed to this project when it was in beta, announced only on Twitter:

To encourage new contributions, by the end of 2022, for every functioning program submitted in each of the 10 indicated languages, I'll donate $5 to Girls Who Code. Before beginning, please read the guidelines in the readme, and if you have questions, scan through this discussion topic. And most of all, remember, this stuff is supposed to be fun.

(I don't want to be "that one guy", so I'm also looking for project co-owners who can help own and organize this effort. If this is a project that really appeals to you, show me what you can do and let's work together as a team.)

Perhaps as your new year's resolution you can see fit to carve off some time to take part in our project to update a classic programming bookone of the most influential books in computing history – for 2022 and beyond! 🎉

These Are the Best Cheeses for a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Source by Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

The best cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich is personal. Find your soul-cheese here.

The bread component of any sandwich is important but, where grilled cheese is concerned, you have to prioritize the namesake ingredient. Most recipes claim to have the best, most perfect combination of fats and dairy for the ultimate grilled cheese, but what if you’re more of a stretchy-cheese girl? Or maybe a fully melted, liquid cheese puddle is more your vibe. The point of any comfort food is to make yourself happy. Instead of ranking cheeses according my personal preferences, here’s a quick guide to the best cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich for the most important person in the room. (I’m talking about you.)

Assorted cheeses piled up on a countertop.
Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

The best cheese for a grilled cheese

Cheese is composed of protein, fat, water, and acid. (Read more about cheese elements here.) Depending on the ratio of those four pillars, you’ll get different reactions when heat is applied. This might mean that you use all of one type of cheese, or you can try pairing cheeses to get different results.

The best cheese for stretchy sandwiches

If a quality cheese-pull is where the party’s at, then that stretchy protein percentage is important.

For major elasticity, try:

  • Mozzarella

  • Gouda

  • Havarti

  • Gruyère

Lean on younger cheeses, as those aged for over a year lack the moisture to melt and stretch quite as well as their younger counterparts.

The best cheese for gooey sandwiches

Not everyone wants a never-ending cheese pull. Sometimes less stretching and more of a soft, melting cheese is in order. The fat content will play a starring role in this case, allowing the protein clusters to move farther away from each other.

For a cheese that melts so smoothly you could weep, try:

  • Taleggio

  • Muenster (by popular demand, and I agree.)

  • Cheddar

  • Raclette

  • Fontina

  • American (It’s the cheese we all hate to love, but you have to admit, the stuff can melt.)

The best “cheese” for liquid cheese magma

There is a stage past gooey. A place not many choose to go, but if you dare, you could make a grilled cheese that practically erupts with melted dairy. For a nearly liquid cheese sandwich, lean on those with a higher fat and water content. I recommend using very soft cheeses in addition to, well, let’s call them “cheese-type snacks.”

  • Velveeta

  • Tostitos Salsa Con Queso

  • Cheez Whiz

Apply a little heat and they’ll reward you with yellow liquid sin. If you can’t bear to put a cheese-type snack on your sandwich bread, try:

  • Triple cream brie without the rind

  • Gournay cheese (like Boursin)

  • Creamy goat cheese

  • Good ol’ cream cheese.

Don’t fret, if you want a little bit of everything in your dream-date grilled cheese you should explore some combinations. If you enjoy a little stretch with your melt, layer in some gruyere with your fontina. Add in a secret smear of Cheez Whiz (we all know Philadelphia’s on to something with those cheesesteaks). Be brave. The grilled cheese of your dreams awaits.

Here's my current favorite cheese combination for a slow-running, gooey grilled cheese with the tiniest bit of stretch and a mild cheesy flavor.

Grilled cheese cut in half on a cutting board.
Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices sturdy bread (I cut a grainy ciabatta on a severe bias)

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter

  • 1 slice American cheese

  • 1 ounce havarti

  • ½ ounce muenster

1. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice, butter-side down, in a frying pan. Don't turn on the heat yet.

2. Layer in the cheeses. If you can't find sliced havardi or muenster, just cut off a hunk and dot the bread with cheese. They're both semi-soft so I like to give them a smash with my fingers to flatten them out.

3. Top the sandwich with the other slice of bread, butter-side up. Turn on the heat to medium-low and put a lid on the pan. The steam and ambient heat will help melt the cheeses thoroughly.

4. Flip the sandwich after a few minutes to brown the other side. There's no need to put the lid on again. Cool briefly on a wire rack before chowing.

Why You Should Consider a Gas Grill (and Three to Check Out)

Source by Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

When charcoal grills are too dirty and electric grills are too clean, look to the gas grill.

The only type of grill I ever saw growing up was one fueled by propane gas—they were at both of my parents’ houses, and at all of my friends’ homes. That’s not to say that charcoal grills aren’t a popular and high-quality option (read here to see if charcoal is right for you), but something about the large size and ease of using a gas grill feels very “family nest” to me. If you’re weighing the options for your next summer cookout, consider a gas grill. 


Gas grills in this post:


Is a gas grill right for you?

Gas grills can be great long-term outdoor fixtures that can anchor the space of a patio or backyard. They used to be primarily large boxy grills, but now they come in a wide variety of sizes (and so do the gas tanks)—those big enough to cook a 20-person feast, down to more portable folding propane grills for camping. Regardless of the size you choose or whether you want folding side tables or not, gas grills boast a number of pros compared to other grill types.

  • Easy to use. Unlike a charcoal grill which can take some practice and accessories to properly get going, modern gas grills start with a twist of a knob and a click of a button.

  • Cleaner fuel. If the plumes of smoke that come along with other grills bother you, it might be a good idea to go gas. Gas burns cleaner than charcoal—which is a trade-off in regard to flavor—but you won’t have to worry about smoking out your neighbors even with the occasional burger-juice flare up. If you have natural gas set up at your home, many grills can hook up to that line too (which is great if you hate refilling your propane tank).

  • Temperature control. Starting up the grill isn’t the only thing that’s done with a dial; you get precise temperature control with a gas grill. Gone are the days of prodding charcoal over to one side or wondering if your heat is too high.

  • Peace of mind. While you can use a charcoal grill safely, there is a degree of peace of mind that comes with a grill that doesn’t involve stoking flames and nursing embers. Gas grills can live in a spot next to the house, so you don’t have to observe a safe distance from buildings, and you don’t have to wait for any embers to die out completely. When you turn it off, it’s off.

For a portable option, consider the Coleman RoadTrip Standing Propane Gas Grill

If you frequently enjoy a weekend camping trip with friends or family the Coleman RoadTrip is something to consider. It folds flat-ish, has sturdy wheels and three adjustable burners. It operates on one-pound gas canisters which means you don’t have to take up precious trunk space with a 20-pound propane tank. 

For a natural gas grill, check out the Weber Spirit 3-burner Gas Grill

You can’t always convert propane gas grills to natural gas, so if you’re set on hooking it up to your house's natural gas line then the Weber Spirit is worth checking out. It has a built-in thermometer to help you monitor the temperature while the lid is closed, and it even comes with a 10-foot natural gas hose. With 529 square inches of cooking surface, you’ve got a decent sized main grilling area with an additional warming rack. 

If you love bells and whistles, take a gander at the Weber Summit Gas Grill

This grill is monumental, and about as much of a patio fixture as you can get. While it comes with a hefty price tag, this is the type of unit that should last you five to 12 years or longer depending on how you maintain it. 

This grill has four main burners, a smoker option, a side burner for pots or pans, and a rotisserie feature. Plus it has that classic backyard, gas-fueled grill look. The Weber Summit is set up for either propane or natural gas.

Safety first

It may not be the glamorous part of grilling, but safety is crucial to making sure your summer doesn’t go up in flames. While you don’t have charcoal embers kicking around, gas is your invisible opponent. 

Gas safety involves being mindful of gas leaks, and preventing gas build up. If you smell gas and there’s no reason for that (like the grill is off), don’t light anything nearby, make sure all gas valves are closed, clear the area, and call emergency services to help you find out if you have a gas leak.

Always open the lid of the grill before you click on the gas. This will prevent a gas pocket building under the hood before you ignite it, and gives you a chance to take a look around. Clean the grates while you're in there. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher nearby just in case.

F1 24

Source

Årets upplaga av det officiella F1-spelet är här, vilket såklart innebär att det återigen är hög tid att sätta sig bakom ratten och gasa runt längs några av världens mest igenkännliga banor. Från franska rivieran och Monacos glittrande vatten till den stekande solen i Bahrain och det regntunga Spa i Belgien. Allt finns så klart representerat här och vid sidan av sportens stjärnor så är det mycket som känns igen från föregående år.

För återvändande entusiaster handlar det mer om de små förbättringarna. Något som helt klart definierar årets F1-satsning vars motto är att förfina snarare än återuppfinna hjulet. Det mesta vi kommit att förvänta oss finns inkluderat med smärre justeringar och precis som tidigare finns här gott om aktiviteter att genomföra. Frågan är väl snarare, är förändringarna tillräckliga och motiverar det till att investera i årets upplaga av F1?

Förra årets spel gav oss trots allt en av de bättre och mer påtagliga uppgraderingarna på länge, där Codemasters och EA till synes verkligen hade lyssnat på mycket av den kritik som riktades mot tidigare spel. Känslan i bilarna var "spot on" och lyckades balansera perfekt mellan arkad och simulator, även för de som bara spelade med en handkontroll i handen snarare än med ratt och pedaler. Det var livligare, roligare och ett stort steg i rätt riktning.

<bild>F1 24 är i sina bästa stunder helt otroligt vackert. Codemasters visar här med stor tydlighet vad ruggigt välanpassad deras egen spelmotor Ego fortfarande är då racingen känns fotorealistisk under långa stunder.</bild>

Likaså fick vi fans äntligen möjlighet att gräva oss ner i karriärläget Breaking Point som gjorde ett kärt återseende, komplett med den egoistiska divan Devon Butler som vi alla älskar att hata. Överdrivet och dramatiskt, helt i linje med vad Drive to Survive kommit att producera de senaste åren, men också riktigt underhållande. Det var absolut inte perfekt, men det bringade lite mer liv och tillgänglighet åt en annars så ökänt stel sport där gatekeeping länge varit de facto standard.

Det är därmed väldigt tråkigt att man valt att inte inkludera någon ny säsong av Breaking Point i årets version av F1. Istället erbjuds vi ett helt nytt karriärläge som för första gången faktiskt låter dig spela som en av de 20 existerande förarna på ett vis som är mer narrativt drivet. Självfallet går det även utmärkt att skapa sin egen karaktär om man så önskar, eller till och med utgå från den lägre F2-divisionen.

Självfallet så varierar dina förutsättningar baserat på vilket stall eller förare du väljer att spela med under kampanjen, men det slutliga målet är detsamma för samtliga. Att samla så mycket Driver Recognition som möjligt, och att i så stor utsträckning som möjligt bli den drivande faktorn i stallet, snarare än din stallkompis. Detta ger dig nämligen möjlighet att kontrollera hur bilen uppgraderas och utvecklas under året, vilket innebär att du kan finjustera den för att passa dina egna förmågor.

<bild>Shanghai är tillbaka, jag jublar.</bild>

Vill du vara riktigt ful går det till och med att se till så att din egen bil prioriteras med nya och även hemliga delar, allt för att ge dig en överhand mot din stallkompis. Men det är ju som man brukar säga, allt är tillåtet i krig och kärlek. För i F1 mer än i många andra sporter är det vinna eller försvinna som gäller, och den dynamiken är ganska väl representerad med just detta system. Vilket även skapar en del intressanta spelmoment där du under tävlingarna tilldelas specifika utmaningar för att öka din "Driver Recognition". Ja, utöver att vinna eller allra minst komma före din stallkompis.

Det skulle dock vara ren och skär lögn om jag påstod att detta nya karriärläge är mer engagerande eller intressant än Breaking Point. Istället rör det sig snarare om en acceptabel nödlösning för att ge de av oss spelare som inte vill kriga online med andra något mer målinriktat att göra. Nytt för i år är även vad man valt att kalla för Challenge Career, ett spelläge som trunkerar säsongen till en kortare och mer intensiv upplevelse spridd över enbart sex lopp.

I detta läget slumpas förutsättningarna och både förare och team likväl som banor varierar från gång till gång. Därtill så delas de sex loppen upp i tre episoder där du får tydliga mål att kämpa mot, både kortsiktiga som långsiktiga vilka kan handla om allt från att göra ett visst antal omkörningar under ett lopp, till att återta världsmästartiteln eller vinna ditt första lopp i rollen som en av de grönare förarna.

<bild>Det gäller att ligga på topp, annars kan det hända att utvecklingen av F1-kärran tar oväntade och oönskade turer.</bild>

Det må inte låta som något spektakulärt eller omvälvande men jag måste säga att den markant nedkortade säsongen ändå gav en lite kul knorr till ett annars så utstuderat format. Kort och gott, ytterligare en fjäder i hatten och ännu en av de många aktiviteter att engagera sig med i spelet, vilket knappast kan ses som något negativt. Ett smart användande av de tillgångar spelet redan har till sitt förfogande. Som grädde på moset går det nu även att för första gången lira igenom karriärläget tillsammans med en polare i co-op mode. Vilket är minst sagt efterlängtat, så tummen upp där.

Men det som antagligen de flesta F1-entusiaster är intresserade är trots allt körkänslan, vilken det på förhand skvallrats om en del och hur den nya modellen man använt utvecklats hand i hand med den regerande, flerfaldiga världsmästaren Max Verstappen. Hur mycket sanning det ligger i de orden och hur nära samarbetet varit är inget jag tänker spekulera i. Personligen så var jag väldigt nöjd med hur bilarna kändes redan förra året, även om det knappast handlade om någon enormt djup simulation. Det var helt enkelt bra nog men hade framförallt en strålande balans, även om du bara använde en vanlig spelkontroll.

Så är verkligen den nya körkänslan så bra som Codemasters och EA påstår. Svaret på den frågan är inte helt enkelt men att bilarna nu upplevs som annorlunda tack vare den nya dynamiska modellen som utvecklarna implementerat, det är tydligt. Huruvida det är bättre eller sämre jämfört med tidigare handlar i stort om vilka förutsättningar du har, och är du bland de lyckligt lottade med både ratt och pedaler. Ja, då kommer nog detta kännas som ett kliv i rätt riktning.

<bild>Några av banorna som fått sig ett ansiktslyft, synd att det bara gäller totalt fyra av de 25 i spelet.</bild>

För oss andra mer alldagliga spelare, vi som kanske nöjer oss med en kontroll, så är upplevelsen inte fullt lika övertygande och bilarna kändes i mitt tycke en aning för lekfulla och spralliga. Likaså var det inte fullt lika lätt att få ett jämnt tillslag på gaspedalen, och jag fick (återigen, med kontroll) kämpa mer för att bibehålla ett bra grepp, inte minst ut ur kurvorna. Kort och gott så är undertecknad inte fullständigt såld eller övertygad att den nya körkänslan är ett steg i rätt riktning eller inte. Speciellt inte när man tar i åtanke att F1-spelen är ämnade för en bred massa, inte nödvändigtvis bara simulator-nördar.

När det kommer till den audiovisuella presentationen är mycket ungefär detsamma. Små justeringar har gjorts och F1 24 snurrar fortfarande på den nu ganska till åren komna Ego-motorn, med förhållandevis marginella förbättringar av ljussättning, reflektioner och skuggor. Förra årets spel såg redan väldigt bra ut, i varje fall på PC med inställningarna uppskruvade så långt det gick, och F1 24 sätter ribban ett snäpp högre. De små men inte obetydliga förändringarna skapar ett bättre helhetsintryck och får banorna att kännas ett kryddmått mer trogna sina verkliga förlagor.

Dessutom har fyra av spelets banor helt gjorts om från grunden, vilket inkluderar Qatar, Silverstone, Spa och Jeddah. Ett välkommet ansiktslyft inte minst för de två europeiska sträckorna vilka hör till F1-kalenderns mest älskade. Därtill har även Shanghai International Circuit också återvänt vilket innebär att F1 24 totalt nu erbjuder 25 banor att lattja runt på, med fler utlovade som framtida nedladdningsbart material.

<bild>Forza Ferrari!</bild>

Vid sidan av en fortsatt utsökt presentation så bibehåller F1 också en strålande ljudbild med ett härligt motorvrål som man glatt drunknar i, även om det så klart absolut inte går upp mot de gamla tjutande V10:na. Pumpat ur ett bra ljudsystem eller rejäla hörlurar så låter det i varje fall precis så fantastiskt som vi blivit vana vid. Men en kul nyhet för i år är att man också bakat in autentiska ljudklipp från de olika förarna som tagits från tidigare säsong. En liten och till synes obetydlig detalj men som faktiskt förhöjer känslan otippat mycket.

Så med allt detta sagt, och för att återvända till den inledande frågeställningen - är F1 24 värt att uppgradera till om du redan äger förra årets spel? Återigen är svaret inte helt uppenbart och mycket grundar sig i hur slaviskt du följer sporten och din intressenivå. Är du en regelrätt F1-tomte likt undertecknad så absolut, tuta och kör. Årets upplaga är en förbättring på de flesta fronter även om kanske specifikt körkänslan är den som kommer att representera den största vattendelaren bland spelare.

Här finns definitivt ingen brist på innehåll och trots den rätt saftiga prislappen på minst 700 kronor (900 om du vill ha Champions edition) så är det mycket spel för pengarna. Är du däremot bara sugen på att spela F1 och inte bryr dig fullt lika mycket om att ha de senaste uppdateringarna, håll dig till förra årets titel. Den räcker mer än väl och speciellt om du lirar på konsol. På pappret må F1 24 ut att erbjuda en nästan lavinartad mängd förbättringar men många av dem är förhållandevis marginella sådana, eller bara representerar rent "PR-tugg".

<bild>De förväntansfulla sekunderna innan start...</bild>

Avslutningsvis vill jag också höja ett förmanande finger. PC-versionen kommer med Denuvo, det i särklass mest avskydda av DRM-system som EA dessvärre verkar se som ett nödvändigt ont, men också något som har en negativ inverkan på din dators prestanda. Det är väl dock inte någon större överraskning med tanke på att även förra årets titel använde desamma, och i gengäld får du också trots allt den i särklass bästa versionen av spelet. Så det är alltid nåt.

Syvende och sist är det dock bara att konstatera att F1 24 bygger vidare på traditionen och erbjuder den mest kompletta och fetaste representation av sporten du kan hitta på konsol (eller PC). Både online likväl som offline sprudlar det av saker att göra och racingen är precis lika absorberande som förr. Personligen har jag dock svårt att se hur det ska behövas ett nytt spel varje år, och vartannat hade i all ärlighet räckt gott och väl, men det är vad det är. Man får bara gilla läget, gasa på och vara glad. F1 är här för att stanna, och är precis lika bra, eller bättre än aldrig förr.

AI Turns Classic Memes Into Hideously Animated Garbage

Source by Matt Novak

Have you ever wondered what your favorite memes might look like if they were animated? Well, wonder no longer. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence technology, you can now see those static images come to life. And they look like absolute dogshit.

Read more...

Call Centers Introduce ‘Emotion Canceling’ AI as a ‘Mental Shield’ for Workers

Source by Maxwell Zeff

Call center employees have notoriously unpleasant jobs. They field questions from disgruntled customers all day long and can only respond with corporate-mandated jargon. Many expect AI will one day replace these customer service jobs, but for now, several corporations are using AI to address the incredible emotional…

Read more...

The Hidden Cost of Homeownership, State by State

Source by Emily Long

Your mortgage is only a portion of the cost to own a home—here's how much you need to budget for other expenses.

If you own a home or are considering buying, you know that your monthly mortgage payment is only a fraction of what you'll spend each year on homeownership. There are plenty of hidden costs associated with the purchase process as well as ongoing expenses ranging from property taxes to maintenance and repairs, which you don't have to factor in if you rent (as well as utilities and insurance, which you likely do).

But it's hard to conceptualize how much this will actually set you back and easy to be caught off guard if you don't budget for expenses beyond your mortgage.

A new analysis from Bankrate looked at the average annual expenses—on top of a mortgage—that come with owning a single-family home in each state, including property tax, homeowners insurance, utilities (energy, internet, and cable), and home maintenance (calculated at 2% of median sale prices). The report then compared the hidden costs of homeownership in 2024 to those in 2020.

Across the United States, the hidden costs of homeownership and maintenance average $18,118 per year in 2024, an increase of 26% (or $3,689) from 2020. Hawaii has the most expensive homeownership costs averaging $29,015 annually, followed by California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Utah had the biggest percentage increase in hidden homeownership costs from 2020 to 2024 at a whopping 44%.

States with the least expensive homeownership costs include Kentucky ($11.559 per year on average), Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Indiana. Expenses in Alaska and Texas increased the least in the last four years at just 14%.

Here's how your state stacks up.

Hidden costs of homeownership by state

  • Alabama: $12,258

  • Alaska: $18,291

  • Arizona: $16,373

  • Arkansas: $11,692

  • California: $28,790

  • Colorado: $21,038

  • Connecticut: $23,515

  • Delaware: $14,785

  • Florida: $19,182

  • Georgia: $16,035

  • Hawaii: $29,015

  • Idaho: $16,197

  • Illinois: $16,205

  • Indiana: $12,259

  • Iowa: $12,448

  • Kansas: $14,012

  • Kentucky: $11,559

  • Louisiana: $12,593

  • Maine: $17,110

  • Maryland: $19,712

  • Massachusetts: $26,313

  • Michigan: $13,235

  • Minnesota: $16,217

  • Mississippi: $11,881

  • Missouri: $12,639

  • Montana: $18,081

  • Nebraska: $14,946

  • Nevada: $16,636

  • New Hampshire: $23,256

  • New Jersey: $25,573

  • New Mexico: $13,533

  • New York: $22,807

  • North Carolina: $14,647

  • North Dakota: $13,375

  • Ohio: $12,975

  • Oklahoma: $12,642

  • Oregon: $19,221

  • Pennsylvania: $14,983

  • Rhode Island: $21,994

  • South Carolina: $15,065

  • South Dakota: $14,581

  • Tennessee: $14,662

  • Texas: $18,036

  • Utah: $19,137

  • Vermont: $19,836

  • Virginia: $17,647

  • Washington: $23,365

  • West Virginia: $12,656

  • Wisconsin: $14,508

  • Wyoming: $15,420

Xdefiant

Source

Det här med att kopiera och göra det snyggt, är såklart ingen enkel sak. Ibland blir det platt, icke-originellt och utan existensberättigande (som när Gears of War-pappan Cliffy B kopierade Overwatch i Lawbreakers eller när Timesplitters-teamet plagierade Halo i det utskrattade Haze) men minst lika ofta är det smart att snegla både en och 122 000 gånger på genregiganterna. Call of Duty i sig är ju i mångt och mycket en Medal of Honor-klon, Uncharted en Tomb Raider-klon (initialt) och Forza Motorsport en Gran Turismo-klon. Ibland blir slutresultatet en vässad, bättre version av originalet och när det gäller nysläppta Xdefiant såg det på förhand ut som om Ubisofts haussade multiplayerparty skulle kunna toppa världens mest populära actionspel.
<bild>Grafiken i Xdefiasnt är ursnygg tack vare helsvenska Snowdrop Engine som även används i The Division 2 samt Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.</bild>
Efter fyra års utveckling är den tidigare supportstudion Ubisoft San Francisco klara med ramverket och har rullat ut spelet som på förhand beskrivits som "The Call of Duty Killer" av de mest skjutglada spelarna. Utvecklingen inleddes i slutet av 2019, spelet utannonserades ett drygt år senare och producenten här stavas Mark Rubin som tillsammans med Vince Zampella anses vara de två viktigaste personerna för både födelsen för spelserien men framförallt det smått bisarrt kraftfulla genomslag som 2007 års Modern Warfare fick, när det damp ned som en blixt från klar himmel. Rubin producerade Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, han producerade Modern Warfare 2 och 3 och han jobbade även under elva års tid med den interna strukturen och arbetsflödet i sig inom Infinity Ward för att sedan ta ett par sabbatsår och under den tiden erbjudas ett eget projekt med en egen 80-mannastudio hemma hos Ubisoft.

Att Rubin & Company inte ville utveckla något annat än en fullfjädrad Call of Duty-utmanare baserad på samma byggstenar som Activisions monolit är konstruerat av, blev tydligt redan 2021 när Xdefiant visades upp. Det såg nästan identiskt ut med samma upplägg, samma typ av design, samma vapenarsenal, fokus på movement och Loadouts och det har sedan alfa-testet för egen del aldrig rådigt några tvivel om att detta är en Call of Duty-kopia. Rakt av. Och det är det. Jag har sett tyckare som desperat försökt få det till att Ubisofts utmanare står på egna ben, men det gör det inte. Det står knappt i egna strumpor, utan har lånat bomullstrådarna som dessa virkats av precis som allting annat och att påstå att det inte är en Call of Duty-kopia för att det går en smula långsammare rent tempomässigt än aktuella Modern Warfare III, känns lite som att försöka göra en poäng av att Crash Nitro Racing inte är en Mario Kart-klon för att go-kartsen inte kan skjuta sköldpaddsskal. Vansinne.
<bild>Det finns en hel del bra kartor men de flesta känns som om de handplockats från Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, 3 samt 4.</bild>
Xdefiant är en teambaserat arena-shooter där sex spelare möter sex spelare i en rad olika upplägg som alla lånats från Call of Duty. Du kan spela regelrätta dödsmatcher där den som skjuter andra spelare i det andra laget flest gånger vinner, du kan spela escort-uppdrag där du ska försvara en makande långsam, pansarklädd robot mot en viss plats och du kan spela Hardpoint-doftande matcher där det går ut på att försvara ett antal punkter på kartan, precis som i Lockdown. Ubisoft San Francisco har utöver Call of Duty även låtit sig inspireras av Overwatch då varje av de fyra karaktärsklasserna har olika specialattacker som du kan nyttja när det hettar till. Det finns energisköldar, brandbomsdrönare, specialgranater och allt där i mellan och om du nöter in killstreaks kan du även aktivera "Ultras" precis som i Overwatch och jag skulle nog kalla den mixen mellan movement-fokuserad 6v6-action i högt tempo med specialförmågor på det här viset, inte fungerar särskilt bra. Det saknas balans här, det gör matcherna spattiga och den variation som Mark Rubin och hans gäng velat åstadkomma känns mest bara som ett team som kastat saker mot närmaste vägg för att se om något kan tänkas fastna.

Rent spelmekaniskt känns det verkligen exakt som att spela Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, dock. identiskt. Det är aningen långsammare än Modern Warfare III men TTK:n är lika ilkvick vilket gör att du kommer att dö, dö, dö och dö igen. Två välplacerade AR-bulor i skallen dödar lätt en motspelare och map-designen är förhållandevis öppen med mängder av vinklar åt alla håll vilket ska motverka camping och defensivt spel. Allt här, precis som i förlagan, handlar om att pressa, attackera, spela aggressivt. Push, push, push... Och för att det ska bli mindre enformigt än vad Mark Rubin idag anser att Call of Duty är, har man i fallet med Xdefiant valt att helt utesluta alla typer av skillbaserad matchmaking.

Utanför Ranked-läget här matchas du aldrig med spelare med samma level och samma ungefärliga KD (Kill / Death Ratio) utan slungas bara in med andra spelare som är lediga och spelklara, vilket såklart fungerar som multiplayermatcher gjorde "back in the day". Idén om att skillbaserad matchmaking sabbar glädjen och variationen i den här typen av spel är god, för i Call of Duty skulle jag säga att det har skett, till viss del åtminstone. Det ska dock sägas att det inte fungerar något bättre i Xdefiant eftersom de allra flesta som spelar crossplay-MP online idag är så pass vassa med sitt sikte att man som casual-spelare ändå hela tiden blir plöjd i ryggen av betydligt vassare gamers. På så sätt skulle jag säga att Ubisofts marknadsföringstaktik med att under flera år nu nämna att skillbaserad matchmaking sabbat den här genren och att de avstår, varit mer snack än verkstad. Det spelar faktiskt inte särskilt stor roll längre. Inte idag.
<bild>Vapnen känns helt okej men det saknas tyngd och animationen när man springer känns svajig, som om man styr en mindre båt.</bild>
Själva "gunplay"-aspekten är klart godkänd i Xdefiant. Varje vapen känns som att avfyra samma vapen i Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (samt 3) och TTK:n skulle jag säga är identisk, också. Det finns en del bekymmer enligt mig med hur själva karaktären och dess armar/händer animerats då de svajar från sida till sida medan man sprintar lite väl mycket. Ibland känns det lite som att styra en mindre båt och movement-portionen med "sliding" och "mantling" blir aldrig lika intuitiv eller smidig som i Call of Duty, vilket är synd. Känslan i vapnen, rekylen och hitboxarna hos motspelarna fungerar bra dock även om det behövs polering lite överallt, som i alla spel av den här typen (som sällan släpps i färdig form, numer).

De olika fraktionerna som kallas "Defiants" har delats in i olika kategorier och hör alla till olika spelföljetonger signerat Ubisoft och här känns det för egen del som att Ubisoft San Francisco bara gått halva vägen och därmed gått miste om mängder av existerande potential. Det finns karaktärer här från The Division, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, Far Cry samt Splinter Cell men de ser aldrig ut som de härstammar från dessa älskade spelvärldar och deras förmågor känns aldrig så klockrena som de borde vara. Jag begriper att man försökt strömlinjeforma spelupplevelsen här och försökt stå på egna ben snarare än att förlita sig blint på tyngden i Tom Clancys bästsäljande actionuniversum men jag hade mycket hellre sett att de gått hela vägen här, skapat stealth-spioner från Sam Fishers värld, krigsbruna Future Soldier-soldater samt Wildlands Spec Ops-pittar från Ghost Recon samt mer fokus på Riot Shields och tyngre arsenaler från Rainbow Six. Det finns delar av det där, som sagt, men inte särskilt mycket och det som finns betyder väldigt liten reell skillnad när man väl spelar.
<bild>Buuuuh! Att Ubisoft skippat skillbaserad matchmaking spelar lite och ingen roll för den utlovade "variationen". Man blir ändå matchad med spelare som hela tiden är bättre än en själv.</bild>
Det finns en hel del trevliga maps här, dock. Flera av kartorna har inspirerats hårt av gamla multiplayerfavoriter från Black Ops-följetongen och inte sällan är de hyperdetaljerade och tematiskt varierade vilket jag uppskattar. Det går att panga sprinttokiga motspelare inuti en paint ball-arena, inuti ett tivoli eller ett museum proppat av egyptisk historia och jag gillar flera av kartorna. Det finns samtidigt minst lika många oinspirerade, typiska, generiska kartor som du hittar i varenda multiplayershooter och på det vis som man från Ubisoft San Franciscos håll jobbat stenhårt för att inte tillåta någon form av camping eller några slags dörrar, känns begränsande sett till matchernas dynamik.

Grafiken i Xdefiant baseras på svenska Massive Entertainments Snowdrop-motor som jag tror är världens bästa specialbyggda grafikmotor just nu, Unreal Engine 5.4 inte inkluderad. Kartorna är som sagt hyperdetaljerade och väldigt snyggt ljussatta precis som samtliga av karaktärerna. Animationerna ser lite stela ut och det saknas förstörelse eller någon slags texturerad påverkning på miljöerna, men det flyter istället superfint när matchen väl startat och laddningstiderna är chockkorta. Ljudet lämnar dock klart mer att önska och utöver platt vapenknallar och en nasal, smygdistad speakerröst som mest bara upprepar samma trötta pappa-skämt är direktionsljudet för framförallt fotspår riktigt dåligt. Väldigt ofta har jag blivit brassad i ryggslutet av en motspelare som klampat upp bakom mig på ett klinkergolv och stoppat hagelpipan mot bakstycket av min kevlarväst utan att jag hört så mycket som ett knyst, något som för egen del skapat en hel del irritation de senaste kvällarna. Prisbilden i Ubisofts "Item shop" känns bisarr också där det finnes "skins" för upp till 800 kronor styck, något som säkerligen går att motivera med att spelet i slutändan är helt gratis, men ändå. För dyrt. För girigt. Det finns inget "mikro" med dessa mikrotransaktioner längre vilket också retar mig.
<bild>Lite The Finals-aktig förstörelse i miljöerna hade gjort stor skillnad för att kunna särskilja denna Call of Duty-klon från Call of Duty.</bild>
Efter några veckor med betaversionen och tre dygn med det färdiga spelet känner jag mig kluven. Själva grundmekaniken i Xdefiant tillsammans med grafiken är det ju inget fel på. Det fungerar bra. Det känns bra att panga alla de vapen som stoppats in här och grafiken är tack vare Snowdrop Engine utsökt. Det finns dock trots detta ingenting här som gör att jag hellre skulle spela Mark Rubins utmanare än att starta igång Call of Duty och med tanke på hur nära de rört sig sett till mekanik, struktur, upplägg, dynamik, spelsystem och estetik känns detta mer som en Wish-version av Activisions actiongigant än ett spel som står på egna ben, i egna strumpor.

The First Smartphone Made for AR Glasses Isn’t a Phone at All

Source by Kyle Barr

We’ve already seen companies try for a laptop alternative using AR glasses as a screen with the Spacetop G1. So why don’t we have a phone made explicitly for AR? Well, AR glasses maker XReal has decided to unleash something phone-like. It will run your usual slate of Android apps. It will even take photos and video…

Read more...

There is no longer any such thing as Computer Security

Source by Jeff Atwood

Remember "cybersecurity"?

its-cybersecurity-yay

Mysterious hooded computer guys doing mysterious hooded computer guy .. things! Who knows what kind of naughty digital mischief they might be up to?

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where this kind of digital mischief is literally rewriting the world's history. For proof

Remember "cybersecurity"?

its-cybersecurity-yay

Mysterious hooded computer guys doing mysterious hooded computer guy .. things! Who knows what kind of naughty digital mischief they might be up to?

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where this kind of digital mischief is literally rewriting the world's history. For proof of that, you need look no further than this single email that was sent March 19th, 2016.

podesta-hack-email-text

If you don't recognize what this is, it is a phishing email.

phishing-guy

This is by now a very, very famous phishing email, arguably the most famous of all time. But let's consider how this email even got sent to its target in the first place:

  • An attacker slurped up lists of any public emails of 2008 political campaign staffers.

  • One 2008 staffer was also hired for the 2016 political campaign

  • That particular staffer had non-public campaign emails in their address book, and one of them was a powerful key campaign member with an extensive email history.

On successful phish leads to an even wider address book attack net down the line. Once they gain access to a person's inbox, they use it to prepare to their next attack. They'll harvest existing email addresses, subject lines, content, and attachments to construct plausible looking boobytrapped emails and mail them to all of their contacts. How sophisticated and targeted to a particular person this effort is determines whether it's so-called "spear" phishing or not.

phishing-vs-spear-phishing

In this case is it was not at all targeted. This is a remarkably unsophisticated, absolutely generic routine phishing attack. There is zero focused attack effort on display here. But note the target did not immediately click the link in the email!

podesta-hack-email-link-1

Instead, he did exactly what you'd want a person to do in this scenario: he emailed IT support and asked if this email was valid. But IT made a fatal mistake in their response.

podesta-it-support-response

Do you see it? Here's the kicker:

Mr. Delavan, in an interview, said that his bad advice was a result of a typo: He knew this was a phishing attack, as the campaign was getting dozens of them. He said he had meant to type that it was an “illegitimate” email, an error that he said has plagued him ever since.

One word. He got one word wrong. But what a word to get wrong, and in the first sentence! The email did provide the proper Google address to reset your password. But the lede was already buried since the first sentence said "legitimate"; the phishing link in that email was then clicked. And the rest is literally history.

What's even funnier (well, in the way of gallows humor, I guess) is that public stats were left enabled for that bit.ly tracking link, so you can see exactly what crazy domain that "Google login page" resolved to, and that it was clicked exactly twice, on the same day it was mailed.

bitly-podesta-tracking-link

As I said, these were not exactly sophisticated attackers. So yeah, in theory an attentive user could pay attention to the browser's address bar and notice that after clicking the link, they arrived at

http://myaccount.google.com-securitysettingpage.tk/security/signinoptions/password

instead of

https://myaccount.google.com/security

Note that the phishing URL is carefully constructed so the most "correct" part is at the front, and weirdness is sandwiched in the middle. Unless you're paying very close attention and your address bar is long enough to expose the full URL, it's … tricky. See this 10 second video for a dramatic example.

(And if you think that one's good, check out this one. Don't forget all the unicode look-alike trickery you can pull, too.)

I originally wrote this post as a presentation for the Berkeley Computer Science Club back in March, and at that time I gathered a list of public phishing pages I found on the web.

nightlifesofl.com
ehizaza-limited.com
tcgoogle.com
appsgoogie.com
security-facabook.com

Of those five examples from 6 months ago, one is completely gone, one loads just fine, and three present an appropriately scary red interstitial warning page that strongly advises you not to visit the page you're trying to visit, courtesy of Google's safe browsing API. But of course this kind of shared blacklist domain name protection will be completely useless on any fresh phishing site. (Don't even get me started on how blacklists have never really worked anyway.)

google-login-phishing-page

It doesn't exactly require a PhD degree in computer science to phish someone:

  • Buy a crazy long, realistic looking domain name.
  • Point it to a cloud server somewhere.
  • Get a free HTTPS certificate courtesy of our friends at Let's Encrypt.
  • Build a realistic copy of a login page that silently transmits everything you type in those login fields to you – perhaps even in real time, as the target types.
  • Harvest email addresses and mass mail a plausible looking phishing email with your URL.

I want to emphasize that although clearly mistakes were made in this specific situation, none of the people involved here were amateurs. They had training and experience. They were working with IT and security professionals. Furthermore, they knew digital attacks were incoming.

The … campaign was no easy target; several former employees said the organization put particular stress on digital safety.

Work emails were protected by two-factor authentication, a technique that uses a second passcode to keep accounts secure. Most messages were deleted after 30 days and staff went through phishing drills. Security awareness even followed the campaigners into the bathroom, where someone put a picture of a toothbrush under the words: “You shouldn’t share your passwords either.”

The campaign itself used two factor auth extensively, which is why personal gmail accounts were targeted, because they were less protected.

The key takeaway here is that it's basically impossible, statistically speaking, to prevent your organization from being phished.

Or is it?

techsolidarity-logo

Nobody is doing better work in this space right now than Maciej Ceglowski and Tech Solidarity. Their list of basic security precautions for non-profits and journalists is pure gold and has been vetted by many industry professionals with security credentials that are actually impressive, unlike mine. Everyone should read this list very closely, point by point.

Everyone?

Computers, courtesy of smartphones, are now such a pervasive part of average life for average people that there is no longer any such thing as "computer security". There is only security. In other words, these are normal security practices everyone should be familiar with. Not just computer geeks. Not just political activists and politicians. Not just journalists and nonprofits.

Everyone.

It is a fair bit of reading, so because I know you are just as lazy as I am, and I am epically lazy, let me summarize what I view as the three important takeaways from the hard work Tech Solidarity put into these resources. These three short sentences are the 60 second summary of what you want to do, and what you want to share with others so they do, too.

1) Enable Two Factor authentication through an app, and not SMS, everywhere you can.

google-2fa-1

Logging in with only a password, now matter how long and unique you attempt to make that password, will never be enough. A password is what you know; you need to add the second factor of something you have (or something you are) to achieve significant additional security. SMS can famously be intercepted, social engineered, or sim-jacked all too easily. If it's SMS, it's not secure, period. So install an authenticator app, and use it, at least for your most important credentials such as your email account and your bank.

Have I mentioned that Discourse added two factor authentication support in version 2.0, and our just released 2.1 adds printed backup codes, too? There are two paths forward: you can talk about the solution, or you can build the solution. I'm trying to do both to the best of my ability. Look for the 2FA auth option in your user preferences on your favorite Discourse instance. It's there for you.

(This is also a company policy at Discourse; if you work here, you 2FA everything all the time. No other login option exists.)

2) Make all your passwords 11 characters or more.

It's a long story, but anything under 11 characters is basically the same as having no password at all these days. I personally recommend at least 14 characters, maybe even 16. But this won't be a problem for you, because...

3) Use a password manager.

If you use a password manager, you can simultaneously avoid the pernicious danger of password re-use and the difficulty of coming up with unique and random passwords all the time. It is my hope in the long run that cloud based password management gets deeply built into Android, iOS, OSX, and Windows so that people don't need to run a weird melange of third party apps to achieve this essential task. Password management is foundational and should not be the province of third parties on principle, because you never outsource a core competency.

Bonus rule! For the particularly at-risk, get and use a U2F key.

In the long term, two factor through an app isn't quite secure enough due to the very real (and growing) specter of real-time phishing. Authentication apps offer timed keys that expire after a minute or two, but if the attacker can get you to type an authentication key and relay it to the target site fast enough, they can still log in as you. If you need ultimate protection, look into U2F keys.

u2f-keys

I believe U2F support is still too immature at the moment, particularly on mobile, for this to be practical for the average person right now. But if you do happen to fall into those groups that will be under attack, you absolutely want to set up U2F keys where you can today. They're cheap, and the good news is that they literally make phishing impossible at last. Given that Google had 100% company wide success against phishing with U2F, we know this works.

In today's world, computers are now so omnipresent that there is no longer any such thing as cybersecurity, online security, or computer security – there's only security. You either have it, or you don't. If you follow and share these three rules, hopefully you too can have a modicum of security today.

These Free LinkedIn Courses Will Teach You How to Use AI

Source by Elizabeth Yuko

It's time to enroll in AI summer school.

The use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace nearly doubled between September 2023 and May 2024—when 75% of knowledge workers around the world indicated that they utilized it—according to a survey of 31,000 people in 31 countries conducted by LinkedIn and Microsoft. But they're not without their doubts: 53% of those who have integrated AI into their workday said are concerned that using it on important work tasks could make them look replaceable.

At the same time, if you've ever encountered Google's AI wildly inaccurate search results, you know that while AI might be the future, but it still has a long way to go. In the meantime, you might want to take advantage of some of the available courses on the basics of AI—especially those that are free. If you're not sure where to start, LinkedIn Learning is now offering more than 50 free AI-upskilling courses from now through July 8.

How to take free AI courses through LinkedIn Learning

The LinkedIn Learning site can be a bit overwhelming if you don't know what, exactly, you're looking for, and where to find it. Plus, there are plenty of AI-related courses that haven't been unlocked and require a subscription.

Basically, from now through July 8, these five learning pathways, featuring more than 50 AI-upskilling courses, have been unlocked and are free to access.

1. Building AI Literacy

2. Applying AI to Everyday Work

Courses are available in three areas:

3. Developing Your Skills with the OpenAI API

4. Advancing Your Skills in Deep Learning and Neural Networks

5. Developing Your AI Skills as a Cybersecurity Professional 

There are a total of 55 free courses—none of which require you to sign up for a free trial of the LinkedIn Learning subscription. Unless you want to subscribe, just ignore the blue box on the right side of the page that says "Start my free month," then scroll down and click directly on the course you'd like to take. It should begin right away without you having to enroll in a trial.

Screenshot of "Develop Your AI Skills as a Cybersecurity Professional" learning pathway on LinkedIn Learning
Credit: LinkedIn Learning

You can learn more about these courses and other offerings in this blog post from LinkedIn Learning's Head of Global Content Dan Brodnitz.

Hacker, Hack Thyself

Source by Jeff Atwood

We've read so many sad stories about communities that were fatally compromised or destroyed due to security exploits. We took that lesson to heart when we founded the Discourse project; we endeavor to build open source software that is secure and safe for communities by default, even if

We've read so many sad stories about communities that were fatally compromised or destroyed due to security exploits. We took that lesson to heart when we founded the Discourse project; we endeavor to build open source software that is secure and safe for communities by default, even if there are thousands, or millions, of them out there.

However, we also value portability, the ability to get your data into and out of Discourse at will. This is why Discourse, unlike other forum software, defaults to a Creative Commons license. As a basic user on any Discourse you can easily export and download all your posts right from your user page.

Discourse Download All Posts

As a site owner, you can easily back up and restore your entire site database from the admin panel, right in your web browser. Automated weekly backups are set up for you out of the box, too. I'm not the world's foremost expert on backups for nothing, man!

Discourse database backup download

Over the years, we've learned that balancing security and data portability can be tricky. You bet your sweet ASCII a full database download is what hackers start working toward the minute they gain any kind of foothold in your system. It's the ultimate prize.

To mitigate this threat, we've slowly tightened restrictions around Discourse backups in various ways:

  • Administrators have a minimum password length of 15 characters.

  • Both backup creation and backup download administrator actions are formally logged.

  • Backup download tokens are single use and emailed to the address of the administrator, to confirm that user has full control over the email address.

The name of the security game is defense in depth, so all these hardening steps help … but we still need to assume that Internet Bad Guys will somehow get a copy of your database. And then what? Well, what's in the database?

  • Identity cookies

    Cookies are, of course, how the browser can tell who you are. Cookies are usually stored as hashes, rather than the actual cookie value, so having the hash doesn't let you impersonate the target user. Furthermore, most modern web frameworks rapidly cycle cookies, so they are only valid for a brief 10 to 15 minute window anyway.

  • Email addresses

    Although users have reason to be concerned about their emails being exposed, very few people treat their email address as anything particularly precious these days.

  • All posts and topic content

    Let's assume for the sake of argument that this is a fully public site and nobody was posting anything particularly sensitive there. So we're not worried, at least for now, about trade secrets or other privileged information being revealed, since they were all public posts anyway. If we were, that's a whole other blog post I can write at a later date.

  • Password hashes

    What's left is the password hashes. And that's … a serious problem indeed.

Now that the attacker has your database, they can crack your password hashes with large scale offline attacks, using the full resources of any cloud they can afford. And once they've cracked a particular password hash, they can log in as that user … forever. Or at least until that user changes their password.

⚠️ That's why, if you know (or even suspect!) your database was exposed, the very first thing you should do is reset everyone's password.

Discourse database password hashes

But what if you don't know? Should you preemptively reset everyone's password every 30 days, like the world's worst bigco IT departments? That's downright user hostile, and leads to serious pathologies of its own. The reality is that you probably won't know when your database has been exposed, at least not until it's too late to do anything about it. So it's crucial to slow the attackers down, to give yourself time to deal with it and respond.

Thus, the only real protection you can offer your users is just how resistant to attack your stored password hashes are. There are two factors that go into password hash strength:

  1. The hashing algorithm. As slow as possible, and ideally designed to be especially slow on GPUs for reasons that will become painfully obvious about 5 paragraphs from now.

  2. The work factor or number of iterations. Set this as high as possible, without opening yourself up to a possible denial of service attack.

I've seen guidance that said you should set the overall work factor high enough that hashing a password takes at least 8ms on the target platform. It turns out Sam Saffron, one of my Discourse co-founders, made a good call back in 2013 when he selected the NIST recommendation of PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA256 and 64k iterations. We measured, and that indeed takes roughly 8ms using our existing Ruby login code on our current (fairly high end, Skylake 4.0 Ghz) servers.

But that was 4 years ago. Exactly how secure are our password hashes in the database today? Or 4 years from now, or 10 years from now? We're building open source software for the long haul, and we need to be sure we are making reasonable decisions that protect everyone. So in the spirit of designing for evil, it's time to put on our Darth Helmet and play the bad guy – let's crack our own hashes!

We're gonna use the biggest, baddest single GPU out there at the moment, the GTX 1080 Ti. As a point of reference, for PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA256 the 1080 achieves 1180 kH/s, whereas the 1080 Ti achieves 1640 kH/s. In a single video card generation the attack hash rate has increased nearly 40 percent. Ponder that.

First, a tiny hello world test to see if things are working. I downloaded hashcat. I logged into our demo at try.discourse.org and created a new account with the password 0234567890; I checked the database, and this generated the following values in the hash and salt database columns for that new user:

hash
93LlpbKZKficWfV9jjQNOSp39MT0pDPtYx7/gBLl5jw=
salt
ZWVhZWQ4YjZmODU4Mzc0M2E2ZDRlNjBkNjY3YzE2ODA=

Hashcat requires the following input file format: one line per hash, with the hash type, number of iterations, salt and hash (base64 encoded) separated by colons:

type   iter  salt                                         hash
sha256:64000:ZWVhZWQ4YjZmODU4Mzc0M2E2ZDRlNjBkNjY3YzE2ODA=:93LlpbKZKficWfV9jjQNOSp39MT0pDPtYx7/gBLl5jw=

Let's hashcat it up and see if it works:

./h64 -a 3 -m 10900 .\one-hash.txt 0234567?d?d?d

Note that this is an intentionally tiny amount of work, it's only guessing three digits. And sure enough, we cracked it fast! See the password there on the end? We got it.

sha256:64000:ZWVhZWQ4YjZmODU4Mzc0M2E2ZDRlNjBkNjY3YzE2ODA=:93LlpbKZKficWfV9jjQNOSp39MT0pDPtYx7/gBLl5jw=:0234567890

Now that we know it works, let's get down to business. But we'll start easy. How long does it take to brute force attack the easiest possible Discourse password, 8 numbers – that's "only" 108 combinations, a little over one hundred million.

Hash.Type........: PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA256
Time.Estimated...: Fri Jun 02 00:15:37 2017 (1 hour, 0 mins)
Guess.Mask.......: ?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d [8]

Even with a top of the line GPU that's … OK, I guess. Remember this is just one hash we're testing against, so you'd need one hour per row (user) in the table. And I have more bad news for you: Discourse hasn't allowed 8 character passwords for quite some time now. How long does it take if we try longer numeric passwords?

?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d [9]
Fri Jun 02 10:34:42 2017 (11 hours, 18 mins)

?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d [10]
Tue Jun 06 17:25:19 2017 (4 days, 18 hours)

?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d [11]
Mon Jul 17 23:26:06 2017 (46 days, 0 hours)

?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d?d [12]
Tue Jul 31 23:58:30 2018 (1 year, 60 days)

But all digit passwords are easy mode, for babies! How about some real passwords that use at least lowercase letters, or lowercase + uppercase + digits?

Guess.Mask.......: ?l?l?l?l?l?l?l?l [8]
Time.Estimated...: Mon Sep 04 10:06:00 2017 (94 days, 10 hours)

Guess.Mask.......: ?1?1?1?1?1?1?1?1 [8] (-1 = ?l?u?d)
Time.Estimated...: Sun Aug 02 09:29:48 2020 (3 years, 61 days)

A brute force try-every-single-letter-and-number attack is not looking so hot for us at this point, even with a high end GPU. But what if we divided the number by eightby putting eight video cards in a single machine? That's well within the reach of a small business budget or a wealthy individual. Unfortunately, dividing 38 months by 8 isn't such a dramatic reduction in the time to attack. Instead, let's talk about nation state attacks where they have the budget to throw thousands of these GPUs at the problem (1.1 days), maybe even tens of thousands (2.7 hours), then … yes. Even allowing for 10 character password minimums, you are in serious trouble at that point.

If we want Discourse to be nation state attack resistant, clearly we'll need to do better. Hashcat has a handy benchmark mode, and here's a sorted list of the strongest (slowest) hashes that Hashcat knows about benchmarked on a rig with 8 Nvidia GTX 1080 GPUs. Of the things I recognize on that list, bcrypt, scrypt and PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA512 stand out.

My quick hashcat results gave me some confidence that we weren't doing anything terribly wrong with the Discourse password hashes stored in the database. But I wanted to be completely sure, so I hired someone with a background in security and penetration testing to, under a signed NDA, try cracking the password hashes of two live and very popular Discourse sites we currently host.

I was provided two sets of password hashes from two different Discourse communities, containing 5,909 and 6,088 hashes respectively. Both used the PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA256 algorithm with a work factor of 64k. Using hashcat, my Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti GPU generated these hashes at a rate of ~27,000/sec.

Common to all discourse communities are various password requirements:

  • All users must have a minimum password length of 10 characters.
  • All administrators must have a minimum password length of 15 characters.
  • Users cannot use any password matching a blacklist of the 10,000 most commonly used passwords.
  • Users can choose to create a username and password or use various third party authentication mechanisms (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc). If this option is selected, a secure random 32 character password is autogenerated. It is not possible to know whether any given password is human entered, or autogenerated.

Using common password lists and masks, I cracked 39 of the 11,997 hashes in about three weeks, 25 from the ████████ community and 14 from the ████████ community.

This is a security researcher who commonly runs these kinds of audits, so all of the attacks used wordlists, along with known effective patterns and masks derived from the researcher's previous password cracking experience, instead of raw brute force. That recovered the following passwords (and one duplicate):

007007bond
123password
1qaz2wsx3e
A3eilm2s2y
Alexander12
alexander18
belladonna2
Charlie123
Chocolate1
christopher8
Elizabeth1
Enterprise01
Freedom123
greengrass123
hellothere01
I123456789
Iamawesome
khristopher
l1ghthouse
l3tm3innow
Neversaynever
password1235
pittsburgh1
Playstation2
Playstation3
Qwerty1234
Qwertyuiop1
qwertyuiop1234567890
Spartan117
springfield0
Starcraft2
strawberry1
Summertime
Testing123
testing1234
thecakeisalie02
Thirteen13
Welcome123

If we multiply this effort by 8, and double the amount of time allowed, it's conceivable that a very motivated attacker, or one with a sophisticated set of wordlists and masks, could eventually recover 39 × 16 = 624 passwords, or about five percent of the total users. That's reasonable, but higher than I would like. We absolutely plan to add a hash type table in future versions of Discourse, so we can switch to an even more secure (read: much slower) password hashing scheme in the next year or two.

bcrypt $2*$, Blowfish (Unix)
  20273 H/s

scrypt
  886.5 kH/s

PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA512
  542.6 kH/s 

PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA256
 1646.7 kH/s 

After this exercise, I now have a much deeper understanding of our worst case security scenario, a database compromise combined with a professional offline password hashing attack. I can also more confidently recommend and stand behind our engineering work in making Discourse secure for everyone. So if, like me, you're not entirely sure you are doing things securely, it's time to put those assumptions to the test. Don't wait around for hackers to attack you — hacker, hack thyself!

[advertisement] At Stack Overflow, we put developers first. We already help you find answers to your tough coding questions; now let us help you find your next job.

How to Recognize (and Prevent) Problems With Your Tomato Plant

Source by Amanda Blum

Optimize your chances of enjoying fresh, sun-warmed tomatoes.

Tomato plants are a popular addition to vegetable gardens, but they can be a real challenge. From the moment tomato seeds sprout to the day you compost the plant at the end of the season, tomato plants are surprisingly susceptible to problems. Now that most of you should have your tomato plants in the ground, here’s how to identify problems on your plants, as well as prevent and treat them. 

Stimulate more flower production 

In order to produce tomatoes, you need flowers on your tomato plants, since the pollination of those flowers is what creates tomatoes. While they’ll usually do this on their own, if you notice there aren’t a lot of flowers or you just want to encourage more, you can try using products designed to stimulate flower growth. Sea Magic Organic Growth Activator, made from seaweed, should be used in addition to your regular fertilizer program because it will stimulate flower growth in tomato plants. Sea Magic is easy to use and safe for the home garden. This Tomato & Vegetable Blossom Spray Set contains the plant hormone cytokinin and promotes cell division in plants, which leads to blossom set (flowers developing on the plants), fruit development, and increased yields. This means more potential for fruit set (fruit developing on the plants), even in less desirable weather, as the more flowers, the more fruit.  

Prevent and treat blossom end rot (BER)

The most common tomato growing problem in the world is blossom end rot, which manifests as the bottom of your tomatoes being black, sunken or shriveled.

Blossom end rot on tomatoes
Blossom end rot Credit: Dan Gabriel Atanasie/Shutterstock

BER is hard to treat—the problem happens long before you see it in the fruit and is usually a result of a plant’s lack of ability to absorb calcium. This can be because there isn’t enough calcium in the soil, or the plant suffers from another nutrient deficiency (too much nitrogen, not enough phosphorus/potassium) that causes it to not be able to access the calcium in the soil. It can also be due to drought stress, or inconsistent watering. Inconsistent can mean over- or under-watering, which is why it’s important to consistently deliver water directly at the root of your tomatoes. Soil conditions, like compacted or poorly draining soil, can also hinder calcium uptake. 

According to Nancy Awot-Traut, Horticulture Expert at Burpee Gardening, a key challenge for gardeners is that the symptoms of BER, such as fruit rot, typically appear days to weeks after the initial water stress or nutrient imbalance occurs. The most critical time to avoid BER is the first two to three weeks after fruit set. Avoiding BER means getting your soil tested to make your pH is 6.2-6.8, and has enough calcium. According to Awot-Traut, it’s important to avoid over fertilization, since that can result in too much nitrogen. Mulching at the base of plants can help maintain consistent moisture, and ensuring that each tomato plant has enough space (this will depend on the variety and should appear on the seed packet or plant label, but at least 18 inches is standard). 

Once you see BER, it’s too late for affected tomatoes, but you can try to treat the plant for future tomatoes by using a foliar spray like Rot Stop or Cal Mag. 

Prevent virus and fungi

With all the moisture involved in growing tomatoes as well as density of the leaves, there’s a lot of opportunity for the spread of virus and funguses. One of the primary ways fungi spread is by splashing up from the soil when there’s a lot of rain or overhead watering. Mulching and watering at the base of plants prevents this problem from happening. Ensuring that each plant has enough space around it and is pruned to create air flow can help mitigate the spread. Choosing to grow varieties that have good disease resistance can help as well. 

Remember, in the garden you are the most likely vector of disease spread. When you go out into the garden and touch all your plants in the morning, with the dew still present, you may just be spreading whatever is on one plant to all the others. This is also the reason it is critical you keep your pruning shears clean between plants. A spray bottle of Lysol that you use between plants is effective. 

Unlike other fruit that have only a few recognizable issues, tomatoes can suffer from a litany of different fungi or viruses. Septoria leaf spot is a fungus that appears as black spots on your leaves and spreads quickly. Leaves progressively turn yellow and die.

Septoria leaf spot on tomato plant
Septoria leaf spot Credit: Rubanitor/Shutterstock

Blight, another common fungus, manifests as irregular black shapes on your tomato leaves.

Tomato blight disease
Tomato blight Credit: Gondola/Shutterstock

Fusarium wilt fungus will yellow the leaves, which then turn brown, from the outside of the leaf towards the stem.

Fusarium wilt fungus on tomato leaves
Fusarium wilt fungus on tomato leaves Credit: Olya Maximenko/Shutterstock

Anthracnose is a whole class of fungus that will cause large black or brown spots on your tomatoes. 

Anthracnose fungus on tomatoes
Anthracnose fungus on tomatoes Credit: Radovan1/Shutterstock

Bacterial speck and bacterial spot show up as small brown spots, and are a result of bacteria in the soil that can overwinter.

Mosaic virus is likely the cause of shrunken, twisted and curled leaves.

Mosaic virus on tomato leaves
Mosaic virus on tomato leaves Credit: Plant Pathology/Shutterstock

The most effective treatment for virus or fungus is being bold about removal. Rather than treat plants, the best course is usually swiftly removing the affected plants and then ensuring they go in the trash, rather than compost. If you wait, you risk the problem spreading to all the other plants around the affected one, and in a short summer season, it’s rarely worth that risk. While some fungicides may help treat the problem, you are then introducing those chemicals into your food. It’s safer to take the loss and hope your other plants do better. Remember that the fungus and viruses can remain in the soil over winter which is why crop rotation (moving your crops around in the garden every year) is essential.

Recognize tomato pests

As if the viral and fungal threats aren’t enough, you also have a lot of pests in the garden that will aim for your tomatoes. The best way to mitigate this is to ensure that you are checking your plants daily, diversifying your varieties and planting deterrents around the tomatoes like marigolds, sweet alyssum, dill, and nasturtiums, which will help drive these pests away. The upside is that many of these pest problems can be treated. 

Tiny white or yellow spots can mean spider mites, which will steal chlorophyll from your plants.

Spider mite infestation on tomato plant
Spider mite infestation Credit: Catherine Eckert/Shutterstock

Aphids, a common pest problem that you can actually solve, look like tiny white raised dots on your plants that cluster and cause tomato leaves to curl. Spray them off with water, plant nearby trap plants like nasturtiums and treat the tomato with a spray of soapy water.

Aphids on tomato plant
Aphids on tomato plant Credit: OSINSKIH AGENCY/Shutterstock

Tiny round holes in tomato leaves are likely due to flea beetles, and can be managed the same way, with soapy water and nearby traps like yellow sticky traps.

Flea beetles on tomato leaf
Flea beetles Credit: Grow Land studio/Shutterstock

Hornworms are gigantic green worms on your tomato stems that look like tomato stems but will devour your plants. They can simply be removed by hand. 

Hornworm on tomato plant
Hornworm on a tomato plant Credit: J Gillispie/Shutterstock

Everyone thinks of tomatoes as the first thing to grow, and there are few treats as lovely as a sun-warmed, just-ripe tomato you grew yourself. But the road to getting a healthy tomato is long and full of threats to derail your fruit production. Knowing what those threats are, and working to prevent them—and, if possible, mitigate them—will make it a more satisfying season. 

Macron draws fire on trans rights comments

Source by Victor Goury-Laffont

The French president’s remarks on the left’s proposal to facilitate the legal recognition of gender changes at town halls sparked criticism even within his own ranks.

Facing an uphill electoral battle, French President Emmanuel Macron is looking for new arguments to dent his opponents — even at the risk of souring some of his own supporters.

On Tuesday, Macron accused the New Popular `Front, a left-wing alliance built for the upcoming legislative elections, of promoting “completely crazy things, like going to the town hall to change your sex.”

The New Popular Front’s manifesto includes a proposal to “authorize a [cost] free change of civil status before a registrar,” which the president characterized as being among the “gruesome things” in the program of the “extreme left.”

Under the current system, requests to change the gender indicated in legal documents must be made before a judge. While there is no obligation of having received gender affirming surgery, one must “prove that the sex indicated on your civil status does not correspond to that of your social life (gender identity),” the French administration’s website says. Other EU countries including Spain and Belgium have moved to allow gender self-determination.

While the left-wing alliance has been prone to infighting over its first six days of its existence, its leaders were unanimous in condemning Macron’s statements.

“When I see [Macron] adding up fake news and being transphobic, I think the president is embracing the most populist statements which he called out for years,” Olivier Faure, the Socialist Party’s first secretary, said.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the hard-left France Unbowed movement called Macron’s comments “shameful” and accused the president of being “unaware of the suffering involved for those concerned.”

Macron’s comments have also pushed some people within his own camp to speak up. “For trans people, for LGBT people, for everyone … we must reject stigma in political discourse and promote equal rights,” former Europe Minister Clément Beaune wrote on X.

Progressistes LGBT+, an organization founded by a “collective of LGBT+ activists supporting Emmanuel Macron” and affiliated to the president’s party said it “deeply regrets [Macron’s] comments aimed at stigmatizing transgender people.”

Top Spin 2K25

Source

Tennis är det perfekta sportspelet. Något Pong, även om det rent tekniskt skulle likna bordtennis, bevisade redan 1972. Det är en sport som är så avskalad och fri från så mycket annat som i överföringen till just TV-spel inte alltid fungerar så bra. Bara två personer, en boll och ett nät mellan dem. Detta betyder ju dock inte att ett tennisspel behöver vara hur simpelt som helst. Precis som med andra spel i genren så mår oftast sportspel bra av att vara så realistiska som möjligt sett till det visuella, åtminstone om det är det man är ute efter. Det finns gott om arkadliknande versioner, men just detta lutar mot att kännas realistiskt både till presentation och när det gäller själva sporten i sig.

Med en bra inramning bjuder den senaste versionen av Top Spin in mig som spelare på ett både bekant och lättillgängligt vis. Har man spelat något av de senaste årens fotboll, hockey eller golfspel känns bekanta menyer ackompanjerat av hitlåtar som spelas väl igen. Spelet öppnar direkt med en match med Roger Federer i huvudrollen där du får spela det slutgiltiga avgörandet i en match. Sedan är man ute vid menyn, kikar runt och legenden John McEnroes stämma tycker att det vore en bra ide att träna grunderna. Sagt och gjort, jag ger mig i kast med några lektioner där det främst handlar om att lära sig detta spels tajming. När man håller in en knapp gäller det att släppa den i ett grönt fält för att få till ett så bra slag som möjligt. Sådana här visuella hjälpmedel kan stängas av också vilket jag gör när jag fått mer kläm på det hela.
<bild>Man tvingas inte utstå några repriser utan väljer själv om man vill se en sådan och kan ändra vinklar vilket känns bra.</bild>
Just att tajma slaget är nyckeln till att få till bra bollar som motståndaren inte klarar av att returnera. Det känns lite som när man svingar en golfklubba i de äldre golfspelen där man helt enkelt skulle tajma ett tryck. Här håller man istället in knappen och släpper den i rätt ögonblick för att få till en bra sving och så blir det lite olika typer av slag baserat på vilken knapp man trycker på. Är motspelaren framme vid nät vill man ju exempelvis försöka lobba över och även om den här typen av knapptryck kanske inte känns så innovativ så fungerar det bra. Som helhet känns kontrollen tajt och det går som sagt att stänga av diverse visuella saker för att göra det svårare och få det att kännas mer realistiskt när diverse gränssnitt försvinner.
<bild>Många rafflande set mot tufft motstånd bjuds det på.</bild>
Något som, enligt mig, är själva höjdpunkten i tennis är de där duellerna som pågår ett bra tag. Där positionering och koncentration verkligen sätts på prov. Top Spin bjuder verkligen in till mycket av det där. Själva nerven och essensen i att till slut ta den där poängen med ett välriktat slag, eller förlora den för att man tappar koncentrationen i en sekund. När man plockar bort allting annat än själva spelkänslan och bara koncentrerar sig på det som sker när två personer slår bollen fram och tillbaka i ett försök att finna öppningen, då förstår man återigen det där varför tennis fungerar så himla bra som sportspel. Det är just här Top Spin känns som allra bäst också. Det närmar sig sporten på ett avskalat vis, låter matcherna vara en höjdpunkt och det man främst ska ha roligt med.

Hela inramningen är förhållandevis snygg och förutom lite olustiga ansikten på karaktärer som har en verklig förlaga, såsom då Federer som man får se direkt i början, så ser karaktärsmodellerna ganska bra ut utan att det direkt blåser en av stolen. Likaså gäller publik som på nära håll inte direkt imponerar men matcherna ser fina ut på lite längre avstånd med bra flyt och bra animationer. Jag tycker kanske att man kunde slipat det här lite mer mot realismens håll då det har en lite tecknad känsla över sig och definitivt hade kunnat se bättre ut. Jag gillar dock detaljer som att det märks svett på hals och tröjor ju längre en match går, det är små detaljer men just sådana kan jag uppskatta. Ljudbilden är lite tam och förutom en del bra musik i menyerna så finns här något jag faktiskt hade önskat och det är kommentator. Nu är ju inte tennis på samma nivå där gällande fotboll och hockey men lite kommentarer mellan seten och rafflande omgångar hade kunnat göra mycket för atmosfären. Det är riktigt synd att det saknas.
<bild>Det visuella just under spelet är bra men det saknas lite mer realism emellanåt.</bild>
Det huvudsakliga spelläget i Top Spin kallas "My career" och även om det inte handlar om något karriärläge med en story eller liknande, det är snarare väldigt avskalat, så slussas man snabbt mellan turneringar och matcherna. Jag ska inte säga att innehåller i Top Spin känns tamt för här finns egentligen det mesta man kan önska, men ingenting är särskilt spännande upplagt. För den som vill ha en okomplicerad upplevelse där just matcherna står i främsta rummet så hittar man definitivt det här och det är ju såklart det allra viktigaste. Det är väldigt enkelt att dra igång spelet och starta en match oavsett om det nu då är via sin spelares karriär, online eller mot en kompis.

Det finns gott om svårighetsgrader att välja mellan, likaså kan man välja hur långa matcherna ska vara vilket även påverkar hur mycket erfarenhetspoäng man får efter dessa. I karriärsläget handlar det främst om en världsrakning där man efter vinster klättrar och även om man bara vinner någon enstaka match i turneringarna så räknas varje vinst i totalen. Det går även att vila sig förbi vissa månader, vilket man speciellt behöver göra ifall man dragit på sig en skada. Under matcherna har man nämligen en mätare för uthållighet och det blir fler misstag om den blir tom och man inte tajmar slagen bra. Det bjuds på olika underlag och olika tennisbanor runtom i världen och saker som färdighetspoäng och att gå upp i nivå förekommer på ens egen spelare i karriärläget. Liksom att man då kan dra på sig skador men utan att ha något särskilt djupt eller vara särskilt avancerat.
<bild>Det bjuds på matcher på olika underlag och på olika banor runtom i världen.</bild>
Det är någonstans här också som Top Spin känns som ett roligt tennisspel när man är inne i en match men inte så mycket mer vid sidan om just det. Jag gillar känslan av att möta ett tufft motstånd, jag gillar spelarnas animationer och jag gillar framförallt när ett set blir sådär svettigt böljande eller när man hämtar upp ett underläge eller känner att man får till ett bra flyt i spelet. Allt sådant fungerar bra och det finns egentligen inte så mycket att kritisera där. Det är heller egentligen inte som att jag saknar så jättemycket mer än kanske lite mer tekniskt snygg grafik och den där känslan av att det kunde finnas lite mer gör sig påmind. Jag vet inte helt vad det är, men det är ett överhäng av att allting är "bara bra" som finns här.

Det är en helt klart välgjord form av sporten som TV-spel och som allra bäst just under nerviga rafflande möten där man verkligen lyckats fånga hur bra då tennis faktiskt fungerar med en handkontroll. Men det visuella kunde mått bra av lite mer detaljer och ett visst mått av mer realism snarare än den lite tecknade känslan det har. Jag kunde också önskat att det fanns små saker som reaktioner mot domslut om en boll var tveksamt ute och lite mer spänning i hur karriärläget var upplagt. Helt enkelt sådana där mindre saker som kunde tagit det ett eller flera hack högre. Det är svårt att få till mer ord om något så simpelt som en sport där två personer slår en boll mellan sig, speciellt ifall innehållet då inte bjuder på så mycket extra. Så, på samma vis som Pong inte behövde särskilt mycket mer än att fungera som allra bäst när den där bollen flög mellan spelarna, så är det också där som detta lyser starkast och ändå gör Top Spin till ett tennisspel att ha roligt med.

Understanding One-Way Data Flow in ReactJS

Source by Andreea

Understanding One-Way Data Flow in ReactJS

ReactJS, a JavaScript framework created by Facebook, has gained widespread popularity among developers for its user-friendly interface and high-end proficiency in building creative user interfaces. A fundamental concept of ReactJS, which significantly contributes to its isn’table utility and control, is ‘one-way data flow’. This model is of paramount importance in managing app state predictably and ...

Read more

Understanding One-Way Data Flow in ReactJS

ReactJS, a JavaScript framework created by Facebook, has gained widespread popularity among developers for its user-friendly interface and high-end proficiency in building creative user interfaces. A fundamental concept of ReactJS, which significantly contributes to its isn’table utility and control, is ‘one-way data flow’. This model is of paramount importance in managing app state predictably and orchestrating an efficient development environment.

What is One-Way Data Flow?

One-way data flow, also known as unidirectional data flow, refers to a model where the state is passed down from parent components to child components through properties, or props, and events. This approach means that the data in an application follows the same and predictable flow each time it changes, allowing for better control and traceability.

In the context of ReactJS, data is passed down the component tree via props. Child components receive these props and use or display them. However, child components cannot directly modify the props they receive. Should they need to make changes, they can send up events which inform the parent components of the intended modifications.

The Benefits of One-Way Data Flow

Predictability

With a one-way data flow, the direction of the data movement is always predictable since it moves from the parent component to the child component. This predictability facilitates debugging, as the origin and flow of data can be tracked systematically.

Simplicity

The absence of two-way data binding reduces complexity. With data flowing in one direction, managing data changes and understanding the logic becomes straightforward.

Efficiency

A unidirectional data flow ensures more efficient data organization and management. It eliminates the possibility of cyclical dependencies, unwanted side effects, and anomalies that could arise from bi-directional data flow.

Enhanced Performance

Reactjs was designed to optimize rendering when dealing with large data sets, and one-way data flow is the key to this. It allows efficient data change detection and only re-renders components that actually change.

Easy Testing

The predictable data flow in Reactjs makes testing easier. Given the state and set of actions, the result can be easily anticipated, simplifying the test setup process.

React and Flux

Following closely is Flux, an architecture primarily used for maintaining one-way data flow in React applications, which enforces data flow in a single direction. With Flux, actions are dispatched and passed through every store, and changes in data trigger an update on views, thus resulting in a more predictable control of the application state.

Conclusion

The one-way data flow concept in Reactjs is integral to maintaining simplicity, performance, and predictability in your applications. It provides a clear and consistent pattern for building complex UIs that are easy to reason about. Understanding and implementing this principle will optimize your application and make it easier to debug, test, and maintain.

As Reactjs continues to evolve and expand, it gives us further tools and paradigms to make managing states even more efficient, enforcing one of the many reasons why one-way data flow holds great significance in ReactJS development.

Ukrainian Drone Attack Sparks Huge Blaze at Oil Facility in Southern Russia

Source by Hanna Arhirova / AP

It marks the latest long-range strike by Kyiv's forces on a border region.

Russia Fire

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine claimed responsibility Tuesday for an overnight drone attack on a Russian oil facility that started a massive blaze in the latest long-range strike by Kyiv’s forces on a border region.

Ukraine has in recent months stepped up aerial assaults on Russian soil, targeting refineries and oil terminals in an effort to slow down the Kremlin’s war machine. Moscow’s army is pressing hard along the front line in eastern Ukraine, where a shortage of troops and ammunition in the third year of war has made defenders vulnerable.

[time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”]

The attack set fire to an oil reservoir in Russia’s Rostov region and more than 200 firefighters were at the scene, according to Rostov Gov. Vasily Golubev.

The blaze covered an area of 5,000 square meters (55,000 square feet) but there were no casualties, Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said.

A Ukrainian official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give the information to the media, said the attack was a special operation of Ukraine’s Security Service, known as SBU. The drones targeted two Rostov oil depots that have 22 oil reservoirs, the official said.

It was not possible to independently confirm the claim.

Kyiv officials normally decline comment about attacks on Russian territory, though they sometimes refer obliquely to them.

Ukrainian drone developers have been extending the weapons’ range for months, as Kyiv attempts to compensate for its battlefield disadvantage. The unmanned aerial vehicles are also an affordable option while Ukraine waits for the arrival of more Western military aid.

Apple Teases June 25 Beats Pill Unveiling

Source by Juli Clover

Apple appears to be planning to unveil its new Beats Pill speaker on Tuesday, June 25, according to a teaser shared on social media site X (formerly Twitter) today.


The Beats by Dre account posted a short video starring LeBron James and featuring the Beats Pill speaker, with the text "6/25," which seemingly hints at the debut date of the device.

Signs of a new Beats Pill speaker first surfaced in April when NBA superstar LeBron James was spotted carrying it in a photo. It was later spotted with F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, soccer star Lionel Messi, and Kim Kardashian.


Our first real look at the speaker came in May with images hidden in the iOS 17.5 beta, and since then, it has been spotted in multiple regulatory databases.

While no official details have surfaced on the Beats Pill feature set, it has a pill-shaped design that's similar to the Beats Pill speaker that was discontinued in 2022. The new model includes a lanyard that was not provided with prior speakers, and based on the iOS 17.5 leak, we know it will come in gold, red, and black. Other likely features include upgraded Bluetooth 5.3, Find My integration, and USB-C charging, all of which are upgrades Apple has been adding across its product lineup.
Tag: Beats

This article, "Apple Teases June 25 Beats Pill Unveiling" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

How to Take Full Control of Your Notifications on a Chromebook

Source by David Nield

You're in charge of alerts on ChromeOS.

Notifications are an inescapable part of modern life at this point, but they can vary from the important to the irrelevant. Striking the right balance is key, so that you're not going to miss the alerts you need to see, but aren't bombarded and distracted by the ones you don't.

Phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, smart speakers, and more can all ping us with notifications, so it's worth taking some time to configure these interruptions in a way that works for you—whether it's on Android, on an iPhone, or whatever gadgets you have.

Here I'm going to dive into notification management on Chromebooks. While ChromeOS is essentially just a browser, any website you've visited can trigger a notification, as can any Android app you've installed, as well as ChromeOS itself. Here's how to stay on top of it all and keep Chromebook notifications under control.

Website notifications

ChromeOS notifications
Notifications can be on or off for specific sites. Credit: Lifehacker

Many websites will want to ping you with alerts about new articles, special offers, and more besides, and you'll sometimes see a request to allow notifications when you visit a site for the first time in ChromeOS, just below the address bar—choose Block or Allow on the dialog as you prefer.

To change permissions for a site, click the three dots inside a browser tab (top right), then Settings. Open the Privacy and security page, then select Site settings and Notifications. You'll see sites allowed to send notifications, and sites blocked from sending notifications—click Add at the top of either list to enter a new URL, if there's a site you specifically do or don't want to hear from.

For existing sites in the list, click the three dots next to the site name, then choose either Allow, Block, Edit, or Remove—so, for example, if you need to tweak the URL for the site you're stopping notifications from, you can do this here. If you remove a site from either of the lists, then you might get prompted to allow notifications again from that site.

At the top of the list you can set the default behavior when it comes to sites asking for notifications. You can choose to have these requests hidden if you want to, which means you'll specifically need to seek them out: If a site is asking for permission to send alerts, you should see a small bell icon in the address bar you can click.

You can also get to a site's notification settings via the icon on the far left of the address bar (it looks like two toggle switches)—click this to find a Notifications toggle switch (if alerts have been enabled or disabled). Follow the Site settings link for more options for the website—as well as notification settings, you're also able to set permissions such as location and camera access, as well as manage how pop-ups and ads are handled.

App notifications

ChromeOS notifications
App notifications are handled separately to websites. Credit: Lifehacker

When it comes to any web apps or Android apps you've decided to install on your Chromebook, the notifications for these are handled separately: Click the time widget down in the lower right corner, then the gear icon to bring up the main Settings panel. From there, select Security and privacy on the left.

Select Notifications to see a list of all the apps installed on your Chromebook, whether they're web apps you've pinned to the ChromeOS app drawer, or Android apps installed through the Play Store. Next to each app you can see a toggle switch—use this to control whether or not the app can send notifications.

At the top of the list you've got a Do not disturb toggle switch, which can be used to turn all notifications on or off—that covers websites, apps, and system messages sent by ChromeOS. You can still view notifications at any time by clicking on the small notification button to the left of the time and date on the ChromeOS shelf—it'll either be labeled with the number of unread notifications, or show the do not disturb circle icon, or not be there at all (if you've got no notifications).

Bear in mind that individual apps may have their own notification settings too, which can be managed inside the apps themselves. Instagram, for instance, gives you a wealth of options when it comes to which events trigger an alert: From your profile page, click the three horizontal lines (top right), then Notifications to make changes.

It's also worth noting you can find a Do not disturb tile on the panel that pops up when you click on the time (in the lower right corner). Once you've worked through notification settings for both websites and apps, you should be in a more manageable position in terms of only seeing what you want to see on your Chromebook.

23 of the Best Movies of 2024 So Far You Can Already Catch on Streaming

Source by Ross Johnson

It's been a slow year at the box office, but the movies aren't the problem.

The year is still young, but the shape of the year's movie landscape is already apparent. Comic book movies are in a bit of a holding pattern, opening up space for non-superhero movies; as a result, we're seeing some more unique movies move to the forefront.

Unlike last year, though, when Barbie and Oppenheimer dominated the zeitgeist, there's no consistent theme—unless it's the fact that would-be big-budget blockbusters, even good ones like Furiosa and The Fall Guy, have struggled. It's not entirely clear why (Dune: Part Two still cleaned up), but mid-year, the movies are looking a little peaked on a macro level, even as there is a lot to celebrate on a micro level—as evidenced by these 23 releases that have already made it to streaming or digital rental.

(Note that a few entries on this list are technically 2023 movies that either played internationally or only in limited release in the U.S. I'm defining a 2024 film as one that had the bulk of its North American run this calendar year.)


Dune: Part Two

Release date: March 1
U.S. box office gross: $282 million

Did Denis Villeneuve stick the landing on his adaptation of the latter part of Frank Herbert's epic novel? Yes, and so much so that Dune zealots are already looking ahead to a third film, adapting the second book in the series. The chilly (metaphorically) and cerebral film was a critical as well as a box office success—surprising on both counts, especially considering that the beloved book had come to be seen as more-or-less unadaptable.

Where to stream: Max, Digital rental


Lisa Frankenstein

Release date: Feb. 7
U.S. box office gross: $10 million

This neon-lit horror comedy from director Zelda Williams and writer Diablo Cody got short shrift at the box office but remains a genre-hopping good time. Kathryn Newton plays teen outcast Lisa, who accidentally revives and then develops romantic feelings for a decaying Victorian-era young man (Cole Sprouse). The blend of sweet romance, horror, and dark comedy is not for every taste, but if any of that sounds at appealing, you're in for a grisly treat.

Where to stream: Peacock, digital rental


Late Night With the Devil

Release date: March 22
U.S. box office gross: $11 million

David Dastmalchian stars as Jack Delroy, the host of a late-night talk show in 1977—not quite Johnny Carson, but in that ballpark. A Halloween night broadcast about demonic possession brings Jack's dark secrets to the foreground and soon spirals out of control, with grisly consequences. The conceit is that we're watching a live recording of actual events, and the filmmakers have a lot of fun laying out the period vibe trappings things start to go south for the host, guests, and studio audience.

Where to stream: Shudder, digital rental


I Saw the TV Glow

Release date: May 3
U.S. box office gross: $4 million

What if your favorite TV show was more than just a show, but, instead, a view of a different world? As a couple of kids in 1989 get caught up in their favorite TV show, their senses of identity begin to fracture, for better or worse. Writer/director Jane Schoenbrun's second effort (after the extremely online experimental horror flick We're All Going to the World's Fair) is on one level a stylish and trippy consideration of the dangers of nostalgia, and on another, a beautiful, emotionally wrenching vision of the trans experience.

Where to stream: Digital rental


Infested

Release date: April 6 on streaming
U.S. box office gross: N/A

What, you don't like spiders? This 2023 French import, released in the U.S. in April, sees a giant housing project overrun by a rare species of arachnid that never should have been imported. It's not exactly rigorously science-based, just the story of scrappy young people trying to survive an onslaught of rapidly breeding, rapidly growing spiders, even as the authorities are more interested in containing the problem then in actually helping the low-income Parisians trapped inside the building. Good fun for fans of creepy crawlies.

Where to stream: Shudder, AMC+, digital rental


Hit Man

Release date: May 24 on streaming
U.S. box office gross: N/A

Not sure why we're still going direct to streaming for films from major directors, but such is the case with Richard Linklater's Hit Man. Glen Powell stars as a sullen New Orleans professor who discovers he's surprisingly good at his new side gig: impersonating a hired assassin for the police in order to catch people willing to pay to kill. Things get rather complicated (in a darkly comedic way) when he's approached by Madison (Adria Arjona) to bump off her abusive husband, and he's suddenly not so clear about who is a hero and who is a villain.

Where to stream: Netflix


Challengers

Release date: April 26
U.S. box office gross: $50 million

Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) brings us the horny bisexual romantic tennis drama we didn't know we needed. Zendaya stars as a former tennis pro turned coach who falls into a love triangle with her champion husband (Mike Faist) and her low-circuit boyfriend (Josh O'Connor). The chemistry between the three is a smash.

Where to stream: Digital rental


River

Release date: Early 2024 on streaming
U.S. box office gross: N/A

A delightful import from Japanese director Junta Yamaguchi, River is set at a bucolic health spa where nothing much ever happens...until staffer Mikoto finds herself sent back in time exactly two minutes. Every two minutes, actually, and she's not the only one affected. The sci-fi comedy is appropriately frantic, as staff and guests try to figure out how to live their lives two minutes at a time, but there's a winning sweetness that balances nicely with the genre elements. It's really fun.

Where to stream: Digital rental


Hundreds of Beavers

Release date: April 15 on streaming
Box office gross: $420,000 in limited release

This one's been a hit on the festival circuit, delighting roadshow audiences with its Looney Tunes-esque charms and, naturally, an abundance of beavers. A 19th century applejack (that's a kind of booze) salesman Jean Kayak kicks off a war with said beavers (played by humans is giant, absurd costumes) when one eats through a support beam and destroys his home. What ensues is absolute comic anarchy, with one legitimately hilarious silent film-style gag after another. You wanted something unique? This is it.

Where to stream: Digital rental


Love Lies Bleeding

Release date: March 8
Box office gross: $8.3 million

Writer/director Rose Glass (Saint Maud) returns with a darkly comic, neo-noir crime thriller involving a reclusive gym manager (Kristen Stewart) and a bodybuilder (Katy O'Brian) who get involved with the mob after conspiring to cover up a murder. It's a wonderful bit of modern queer pulp with a couple of great lead performances.

Where to stream: Digital rental


The First Omen

Release date: April 5
Box office gross: $20 million

If you had told me that a prequel to the long-defunct Omen franchise would be one of the year's more effective horror movies (so far), I'd have looked at you the way everybody looks at Gregory Peck when he tried to kill his satanic kid way back in the 1976 original. But here we are! First-time feature director Arkasha Stevenson brings a ton of '70s period style and an appropriately paranoid vibe to the story of future antichrist Damien's birth, blending themes of bodily autonomy with genuine horror and one of the freakiest birth scenes in movie history.

Where to stream: Hulu, digital rental


Bosco

Release date: Feb. 2
Box office gross: N/A

Based on a memoir from Quawntay “Bosco” Adams (played here by Aubrey Joseph), who was sentenced in 2004 to 35 years in a maximum security prison for the heinous, unforgivable crime of—well, the movie keeps that under wraps for quite a while. Suffice it to say that, once the truth is revealed, it’s not hard to root for him as he plans an ingenious and fairly spectacular escape with the help of a prison pen pal (Nikki Blonsky). Tyrese Gibson, Theo Rossi, Thomas Jane, and Vivica A. Fox round out the cast.

Where to stream: Peacock, digital rental


Orion and the Dark

Release date: Feb. 2 on streaming
Box office gross: N/A

Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) wrote the early drafts of this DreamWorks animated adaptation of the Emma Yarlett novel. When young Orion is visited by the literal incarnation of his fear of the dark, he's taken on a whirlwind journey to explore the world of night, with the hope it will help him face his fears. Without ever feeling age-inappropriate, this Netflix animated film tackles some bigger themes than we're used to seeing in modern kids' movies (existential dread, anyone?).

Where to stream: Netflix


The Fall Guy

Release date: May 3
Box office gross: $88 million

While theatrical audiences didn't go wild for this action-comedy take on the 1980s TV show, this Ryan Gosling/Emily Blunt vehicle, from John Wick director David Leitch, is an impressively enjoyable bit of summer fun. The stunts are, perhaps unsurprisingly, continuously impressive, as are the special effects, but the real star is the chemistry between Gosling and Blunt. It's the kind of satisfying, enjoyable, standalone entertainment we don't get to see tht often these days (and given it's on track to lose buckets of money, perhaps ever again).

Where to stream: Digital rental


Drive-Away Dolls

Release date: Feb. 23
Box office gross: $5 million

Ethan Coen goes it solo as director (co-writing with his wife Tricia Cooke) for this gloriously unhinged tribute to '70s exploitation romances. Marian and Jamie are a couple of friends who, setting off on a road trip to Tallahassee, Florida, discover that they've taken the wrong rental car. The tipoff: A briefcase full of sex toys and a human head in the trunk. Of such circumstances are great lesbian adventures born. If it's not quite a match for the Coen brothers' best work (a tall order), it's still an awfully good time.

Where to stream: Peacock, Digital rental


Shirley

Release date: March 22 on streaming
U.S. box office gross: N/A

John Ridley (screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave) directs this rather necessary biopic of Shirley Chisholm. The first Black woman elected to Congress (in 1969), she ran a forcefully progressive campaign for president just three years later. While the film doesn't stray too far stylistically from the biopic formula, Regina King gives a moving, powerhouse performance in the title role.

Where to stream: Netflix


Scoop

Release date: April 5 on streaming
U.S. box office gross: N/A

Gillian Anderson plays real-life British journalist Emily Maitlis, who lead the BBC2 team that secured a disastrous (for the prince) interview with Prince Andrew (Rufus Sewell) that laid bare his associations with sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Anderson is phenomenal in a movie that manages to make the hunt for an interview suitably dramatic.

Where to stream: Netflix


Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Release date: March 22
U.S. box office gross: $113 million

Look, there's no question the whole Ghostbusters thing has grown a little perfunctory. Still, there's fun to be had in this Avengers-esque mash-up that brings together generations of Ghostbusters more formally than did the previous film, Afterlife. It also returns to New York City, which just feels right, and Ernie Hudson remains the unsung franchise MVP.

Where to stream: Digital purchase


Bob Marley: One Love

Release date: Feb. 14
U.S. box office gross: $97 million

In many ways standard issue as biopics go, this one's entirely saved by the brilliant lead performance from Kingsley Ben-Adir and, of course, a killer soundtrack. An underdog box office success story.

Where to stream: Paramount+, Digital rental


Monkey Man

Release date: April 5
U.S. box office gross: $25 million

Dev Patel writes, directs, and stars in this bloody action thriller that winds up giving John Wick a run for its money. Loosely inspired by the Hindu deity Hanuman, the film casts Patel as a nameless fighter in a sleazy bare-knuckle establishment who is wronged, and sets his mind on revenge. The actor is incredibly compelling onscreen, and appears to have a clear eye behind the camera; Monkey Man stands out from the action-movie pack by eschewing highly stylized fight choreography in favor of a more brutal, gritty style.

Where to stream: Peacock, Digital purchase


Jim Henson Idea Man

Release date: May 31 on streaming
U.S. box office gross: N/A

Ron Howard directs this moving, funny, and generally essential biography of the man behind The Muppets, Sesame Street, and The Dark Crystal . It's por anyone who's ever laughed along with Gonzo, or cried their way through a frog singing "Rainbow Connection" (so, all humans, essentially).

Where to stream: Disney+


The Promised Land

Release date: Feb. 2
U.S. box office gross: $300,000

In 18th-century Denmark, down-on-his-luck war hero Capt. Ludvig Kahlen (Mads Mikkelsen) hopes to turn his meager retirement pension into some kind of life for himself by cultivating a portion of a vast wilderness that no one else has been able to make anything of. A covetous local magistrate quickly finds himself threatened by Kahlen's reputation, with the intent of spoiling all his plans. The beautifully forbidding Nordic drama plays out with some of the style of westerns.

Where to stream: Hulu, Digital rental


All of Us Strangers

Release date: Jan. 4 (U.S. wide release)
U.S. box office gross: $4 million

This is another that was technically released in 2023, though it didn't go into wide release in the U.S. until January 2024. A ghost story on the surface, All of Us Strangers follows lonely screenwriter Adam (Andrew Scott) as he starts a romantic relationship with his very mysterious neighbor Harry (Paul Mescal), the two of them the only residents of an imposing new apartment building. The relationship draws Adam to return to his family home, where he finds his (long dead) parents acting very much alive and well. The movie goes to very dark places from there, providing a strong reminder that loss is an inevitable part of life, yes, but also that the only real comfort is in forgetting and moving on. Emotionally raw, but beautiful.

Where to stream: Hulu, Digital rental

Another Crab's Treasure

Source

{Another Crab's Treasure} är utvecklat av teamet bakom den satiriska titeln {Going Under} (en dungeon crawler) och känns som ett aprilskämt som fått eget liv. Det utspelas i en livfull undervattensvärld och skiljer sig från den uppsjö av andra Soulslike-spel som översvämmat marknaden de senaste åren genom att ha en mer underfundig ton och är fyllt av ordlekar med mycket humor. Efter att ha uppmärksammats under en Nintendo Indie World Showcase nyligen har det nu släppts till PC, Playstation, Switch och Xbox.

<bild>Såhär kan ett Soulslike också se ut. Kul med något nytt.</bild>

I Another Crab's Treasure spelar du en bedårande liten eremitkräfta vid namn Kril, vars liv vänds upp och ner efter att en "lånehaj" konfiskerat hans skal. Kril kämpar för att betala sin skatt och lämnas ensam utan sin mest värdefulla ägodel och måste leta igenom havet för att hitta den igen. Eftersom det är fyllt av mordiska krabbor, elaka blåsfiskar och andra dödliga kräftdjur befinner sig Kril på milt sagt djupt vatten (japp, jag vet vad jag skriver) och måste kämpa för sin överlevnad.

Till skillnad från typiska Soulslike-spel (åtminstone innan {Elden Ring}) är Another Crab's Treasure mycket mer öppet i sin banedesign och ger mer frihet att utforska. Under resans gång kommer du färdas genom kelpskogar, korallrev och sandslottsstäder. Dessa öppna områden bidrar till att förebygga frustration om du fastnar, eftersom du alltid kan gå utanför den upptrampade stigen och göra lite välbehövlig grinding. Plattformandet har också en större tyngdpunkt här och det finns en mer uttalad känsla av vertikalitet på banorna. Kril kan skjuta sig genom vattnet under en begränsad tid, hoppa på svampar och ta tag i avlägsna områden med hjälp av fiskelinor.

<bild>Systemet med de olika skalen är helt briljant.</bild>

Det är dock i striderna som det känns mest bekant, eftersom du måste studera dina motståndare, undvika deras attacker och straffa dem när tillfället är det rätta. När du dödar fiender samlar du också mikroplaster (spelets Souls-ekvivalent), som kan användas för att förbättra egenskaper som hälsa, motstånd och skada. Du kan också utrusta dig med upp till tre olika föremål för att förbättra din statistik och du kan växla mellan dem när som helst.

Kril kan bära föremål som slängts på havsbotten som skal för att skydda sig mot de många irriterande havsdjur du stöter på. Alla dessa skal, som består av allt från övergivna tennisbollar till fjäderbollar och snapsglas, har individuella försvarsvärden och specialförmågor som man måste ta hänsyn till. Läskburken avfyrar till exempel bubblor så du kan attackera på avstånd, medan tekoppen förbättrar din attackhastighet så du kan slå extra hårt.

<bild>Another Crab's Treasure ingår med Game Pass så passa på att ge det chansen.</bild>

Du kan också gömma dig i ditt skal för att absorbera skador, men om du inte är försiktig behöver du leta ersättning. Dina skal kan gå sönder om du tar för mycket skada, men du kan enkelt hoppa in i ett annat om du hittar ett i närheten på marken. Att byta mellan skal i stridens hetta hjälper till att hålla bataljerna fräscha, och det finns en påtaglig känsla av fara när man vandrar runt naken på jakt efter ett nytt hem.

Ett annat område där Another Crab's Treasure lyckas väl är genom att erbjuda en mer lättillgänglig inställning till vad som annars är en väldigt bestraffande genre. När du misslyckas med en bosskamp kan du välja att teleportera dig direkt utanför arenan, vilket besparar dig en massa tråkig backtracking. Det finns också ett antal olika tillgänglighetsinställningar du kan använda för att till exempel sakta ner spelet och öka chansen att få in dina kontringar. Lustigt nog kan du till och med avfyra en pistol för att skjuta fiender om du fortfarande har problem.

<bild>Visst finns det saker för veteranerna, men många lär nog ändå tycka att det saknas gnista.</bild>

Another Crab's Treasure är ett uppfriskande och udda tillskott i den ofta intensiva och svårbegripliga världen av Soulslike-spel. Dess tillgänglighet gör det till en bra startpunkt för nykomlingar, och veteraner inom genren lär uppskatta skillnader som den öppna världen, det större fokuset på plattforms-gameplay och de många skalen som kan användas. Vi rekommenderar definitivt att du kollar in det om du letar efter en unik twist på denna mycket välfyllda genre.

<video>

The Best EURO 2024 Matches to Watch This Week (and Where to Stream Them)

Source by Daniel Oropeza

There are some titans clashing this week for the EURO 2024.

The first round of the EURO 2024 group stages is done. There weren't many surprising results, with the best teams in their respective group stages taking all three points (with the exception of Belgium's loss over Slovenia). However, things are now getting interesting with the second phase of the group stages set to start Wednesday, June 19. Plenty of action remains for this week, with arguably the best matches yet to be played. Here are the best matches still to come this week, which you can stream right at home or from your phone.

Spain vs. Italy

On Thursday, June 20, the leaders of group B will go head-to-head at 3 p.m. ET. Luis de la Fuente's Spain beat Croatia with an impressive 3-0 win, setting themselves as one of the strongest competitors early in the tournament. Luciano Spaletti's Italy also beat their opponents, Albania, in a physical 2-1 match. This match promises to be a very technical and tactical one, and one to not miss. The winners will likely end up first in their group, so both nations will be hoping to go all out. You can watch this match on Fox, Fubo TV, ViX, and Vix Premium Desportes 1.

Netherlands vs. France

This Friday, June 21, at 3 p.m. ET, another clash of the titans match will take place between 2022 World Cup finalists France and current leaders of Group D, the Netherlands. France scraped by a win against Austria thanks to a freak own goal and also got their star player, Mbappe, injured with a fractured nose in the process (he should still play against the Dutch). The Netherlands managed to steal all three points from Poland thanks to a late winner from the ex-Man United striker Weghorst, who came from the bench. Regardless of their current form, both of these giants will surely put on a show. You can catch this match on Fox, Fubo TV, ViX, and Vix Premium Desportes 1.

Switzerland vs. Germany

To tie off a weekend jam-packed with European action is Switzerland versus Germany, with the last match of the week on Sunday, June 23, at 3 p.m. ET. This will be the first match of the tournament, with an overlapping match happening at the same time (Scotland vs. Hungary), but all eyes will surely be on the current leaders of Group A. If they weren't before, the host nation of Germany is the clear favorite of the tournament now, after an amazing opening 5-1 display against Scotland that felt more like an exhibition match for the Germans. Switzerland also put on a strong first performance by beating Hungary 3-1. It'll be a surprise if the Swiss beat the Germans, but the A-Team Nati will surely make Germany work hard to get the three points. You can stream the last match of the week on Fox, Fubo TV, ViX, and Vix Premium Desportes 1.

The Logitech Keys-To-Go 2 Is a Total Redesign

Source by Michelle Ehrhardt

Logitech is taking its most portable keyboard back to the drawing board.

The more accessories I add to my tablets, the more I feel like I’m missing the point. Should I really buy a brand new M4 iPad complete with a $350 Magic Keyboard, or should I just get a MacBook at that point? That’s why I like portable but separate keyboards like Logitech’s new Keys-To-Go 2, which takes what I like about my home keyboard and makes it far more travel friendly.

Logitech’s current small keyboards

I’m a big fan of Logitech keyboards. At home, I use the MX Mechanical Mini, a tenkeyless low-profile keyboard with tactile mechanical switches. While away, I usually swap that out for the MX Keys Mini, which is roughly the same but with membrane switches—not as satisfying to type on, but quieter to those around me.

This usually works out for me, but I do have a few gripes. First is durability: the MX Keys Mini is entirely exposed when it’s in my bag, so I worry about keys getting damaged in transit. Second is size: It’s a small keyboard, but it’s still a little wide at 11.65 inches, and the angled riser it uses for greater comfort when typing makes it harder to store away.

This is partially my fault, since the MX Keys Mini isn’t meant for travel. That's why Logitech released the original Keys-To-Go, a completely flat keyboard that’s so thin its keys don’t have much opportunity to get damaged.

This comes with its own problems, though, mostly in the form of comfort. There’s a reason my MX Keys Mini has that angle, even if its riser likes to get caught on notebooks and flaps when packed away.

Logitech Keys-To-Go 2
Credit: Michelle Ehrhardt

How the Keys-To-Go 2 improves on what came before

With the Keys-To-Go 2, Logitech is trying for the best of both worlds, completely redesigning its portable keyboard for both greater durability and greater comfort.

The change mostly comes down to one new design feature: The keyboard comes with an attached cover now. This allows the Keys-To-Go 2 to protect its keys while packed away, plus provide a greater angle while typing.

That steeper angle is thanks to a magnetic bottom, which allows the cover to fold underneath the keyboard to act like a riser. When fully deployed like this, the Keys-To-Go 2 has an 18mm pitch, slightly up from the original Keys-To-Go. It’s also got 1mm of key travel, which is equivalent to the Magic Keyboard's.

The entire Keys-To-Go 2 is smaller than the original Keys-To-Go, too, since the cover replaces what was a large rectangle of empty space at the top of the original. Plus, the shortcut keys are now a full function row when used on non-mobile operating systems.

Logitech Keys-To-Go 2 from side
Credit: Michelle Ehrhardt

Still room to grow

There’s still compromises (I scored 86 wpm on the Keys-To-Go 2 vs. 92 on the MX Keys Mechanical), but the overall experience is now much more similar to a Magic Keyboard or an MX Keys Mini at a fraction of the cost.

Whereas my previous Logitech keyboards needed me to plan my packing around them, I could easily see myself just making the Keys-To-Go 2 part of my everyday carry routine. It’s just under 10 inches long and only 0.18 inches tall (with the cover closed), so I certainly have room for it.

That said, this is still a tablet or phone keyboard through-and-through. There’s no touchpad, so it expects you to control your device via its own touch screen. Or you could pair a mouse, although that sort of defeats the purpose of this being a neat and tidy all-in-one package.

There’s also a sacrifice that comes with having a neat and tidy package: the batteries. To get this keyboard so thin, there’s no room for rechargeable batteries, so instead you need to supply replaceable ones. Some people actually prefer these, since they don’t limit your device’s lifespan, but they’re a bit hard to swap out in the Keys-To-Go 2. You’ll need both a nonstandard screw bit (T5) and nonstandard batteries (CR2032 coin batteries) for this. The keyboard comes with batteries already installed, but not a compatible screwdriver, so you might be in for a bit of frustration when your battery first runs dry.

Logitech does promise up to 36 months of battery life with up to two hours of continuous typing per day, a metric I didn’t have time to test in the couple weeks of early access Logitech gave me with the Keys-To-Go.

One more minor complaint: I was sometimes able to press keys even with the cover closed. While I don’t expect this would damage the keyboard, it could turn on your connected devices while it jostles around in your bag.

Logitech Keys-To-Go 2 with iPad
Credit: Michelle Ehrhardt

It’s a bit pricey

The Keys-To-Go 2 is purposefully designed for one specific task, and at that task, it succeeds just about as well as it could. While I would personally like to see a touchpad on the device, the extra space or thickness needed for that would just turn this into an entirely different product.

For non-attachable tablet keyboards, this implements a lot of smart upgrades over its predecessor and is among the best options you have right now.

Unfortunately, that also means there’s a bit of a premium for it. The price here starts at $80, which while far under what an attachable keyboard can run you, is still lot to pay for a one-purpose device. It's also $10 more than its predecessor.

Whether that’s worth it to you depends on how much you appreciate Logitech’s build quality, as well as convenience features like its shortcut keys for easily mapping across three different devices. For me, these are well worth the price of entry, especially with the smart changes Logitech has made to durability here, meaning the keyboard is likely to last a long time.

Siri Will Be Better in 2024, but Its True Genius Won’t Arrive Until 2025

Source by Kyle Barr

Normally, we have to wait a few months after Apple’s big WWDC conference before getting the full iOS release on iPhones. But now, thanks to AI, this year’s release schedule will look very different. Apple’s been a little vague about what new “Apple Intelligence” features are coming to iPhones immediately, especially…

Read more...

I Fight For The Users

Source by Jeff Atwood

If you haven't been able to keep up with my blistering pace of one blog post per year, I don't blame you. There's a lot going on right now. It's a busy time. But let's pause and take a moment

If you haven't been able to keep up with my blistering pace of one blog post per year, I don't blame you. There's a lot going on right now. It's a busy time. But let's pause and take a moment to celebrate that Elon Musk destroyed Twitter. I can't possibly say it better than Paul Ford so I'll just refer you there:

Every five or six minutes, someone in the social sciences publishes a PDF with a title like “Humans 95 Percent Happier in Small Towns, Waving at Neighbors and Eating Sandwiches.” When we gather in groups of more than, say, eight, it’s a disaster. Yet there is something fundamental in our nature that desperately wants to get everyone together in one big room, to “solve it.” Our smarter, richer betters (in Babel times, the king’s name was Nimrod) often preach the idea of a town square, a marketplace of ideas, a centralized hub of discourse and entertainment—and we listen. But when I go back and read Genesis, I hear God saying: “My children, I designed your brains to scale to 150 stable relationships. Anything beyond that is overclocking. You should all try Mastodon.”

It's been clear for quite some time that the early social media strategery of "jam a million people in a colosseum and let them fight it out with free speech" isn't panning out, but never has it been more clear than now, under the Elon Musk regime, that being beholden to the whims of a billionaire going through a midlife crisis isn't exactly healthy for society. Or you. Or me. Or anyone, really.

I tried to be fair; I gave the post-Elon Twitter era a week, thinking "how bad could it possibly be?" and good lord, it was so much worse than I could have possibly ever imagined. It's like Elon read the Dilbert pointy-haired-manager book on management and bonked his head on every rung of the ladder going down, generating an ever-growing laundry list of terrible things no manager should ever do. And he kept going!

It's undeniably sad. I really liked Twitter, warts and all, from 2007 onward. In fact, it was the only "social network" I liked at all. Even when it became clear in the Trump era that Twitter was unhealthy for human minds, I soldiered on, gleaning what I could. I'm not alone in that; Clay Shirky's moribund signoff at the end of 2022 reflected how I felt:

Indeed, Twitter was murdered at the whims of a billionaire high on Ketamine while it was (mostly) healthy, because of the "trans woke virus".

I urge you, all of you, to disavow Twitter and never look at it again. No one who cares about their mental health should be on Twitter at this point, or linking to Twitter and feeding it the attention it thrives on. We should entomb Twitter deep in concrete with this public warning on its capstone:

This place is not a place of honor...no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here ...nothing valued is here.

In the end, I begrudgingly realized, as did Paul Ford, that Elon unwittingly did us a favor by killing Twitter. He demonstrated the very real dangers of any platform run by a king, a dictator, a tyrant, a despot, an autocrat. You can have all your content rug-pulled out from under you at any time, or watch in horror as your favorite bar... slowly transforms into a nazi bar.

I've been saying for a long time that decentralization is the way to go. We can and should have sane centralized services, of course, but it's imperative that we also build decentralized services which empower users and give them control, rather than treating them like digital sharecroppers. That's what our Discourse project is all about. I propose collective ownership of the content and the communities we build online. Yeah, it's more work, it's not "free" (sorry not sorry), but I have some uncomfortable news for you: those so-called "free" services aren't really free.

Geek-and-poke-pigs-free

Which, again, is not to say that "free" services don't have a place in the world, they do, but please don't harbor any illusions about what you are sacrificing in the name of "free". Grow up.

I take a rather Tron-like view of the world when it comes to this stuff; in the software industry, our goal should be to empower users (with strong moderation tools), not exploit them.

So I encourage you to explore alternatives to Twitter, ideally open source, federated alternatives. Is it messy? Hell yes it's messy. But so is democracy; it's worth the work, because it's the only survivable long term path forward. Anything worth doing is never easy.

I'm currently on Mastodon, an open source, federated Twitter alternative at https://infosec.exchange/@codinghorror – I urge you to join me on the Mastodon server of your choice, or quite literally any other platform besides Twitter. Really, whatever works for you. Pick what you like. Help make it better for everyone.

To inspire that leap of faith, I am currently auctioning off, with all funds to benefit the Trevor Project which offers assistance to LGBTQ youth, these 10 museum quality brass plaques of what I consider to be the best tweet of all time, hands down:

(Blissfully, @horse_ebooks is also on Mastodon. As they should be. As should you. Because everything happens so much.)

If you'd like to bid on the 10 brass plaques, follow these links to eBay, and please remember, it's for a great cause, and will piss Elon off, which makes it even sweeter:

(apologies, I had to cancel the old auctions because I forgot to allow international shipping – I've also made shipping free, worldwide.)

  1. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903779136
  2. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903780761
  3. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903784597
  4. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903785269
  5. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903785648
  6. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903786591
  7. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903787053
  8. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903788754
  9. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903789412
  10. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225903789881

I will sign the back of every plaque, because each one comes with my personal guarantee that it will easily outlive what's left of Twitter.

Thunderbolting Your Video Card

Source by Jeff Atwood

When I wrote about The Golden Age of x86 Gaming, I implied that, in the future, it might be an interesting, albeit expensive, idea to upgrade your video card via an external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure.

I'm here to report that the future is now.

Yes, that's

When I wrote about The Golden Age of x86 Gaming, I implied that, in the future, it might be an interesting, albeit expensive, idea to upgrade your video card via an external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure.

I'm here to report that the future is now.

Yes, that's right, I paid $500 for an external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure to fit a $600 video card, all to enable a plug-in upgrade of a GPU on a Skull Canyon NUC that itself cost around $1000 fully built. I know, it sounds crazy, and … OK fine, I won't argue with you. It's crazy.

This matters mostly because of 4k, aka 2160p, aka 3840 × 2160, aka Ultra HD.

4k compared to 1080p

Plain old regular HD, aka 1080p, aka 1920 × 1080, is one quarter the size of 4k, and ¼ the work. By today's GPU standards HD is pretty much easy mode these days. It's not even interesting. No offense to console fans, or anything.

Late in 2016, I got a 4k OLED display and it … kind of blew my mind. I have never seen blacks so black, colors so vivid, on a display so thin. It made my previous 2008 era Panasonic plasma set look lame. It's so good that I'm now a little angry that every display that my eyes touch isn't OLED already. I even got into nerd fights over it, and to be honest, I'd still throw down for OLED. It is legitimately that good. Come at me, bro.

Don't believe me? Well, guess which display in the below picture is OLED? Go on, guess:

Guess which screen is OLED?

There's a reason every site that reviews TVs had to recalibrate their results when they reviewed the 2016 OLED sets.

In my extended review at Reference Home Theater, I call it “the best looking TV I’ve ever reviewed.” But we aren’t alone in loving the E6. Vincent Teoh at HDTVtest writes, “We’re not even going to qualify the following endorsement: if you can afford it, this is the TV to buy.” Rtings.com gave the E6 OLED the highest score of any TV the site has ever tested. Reviewed.com awarded it a 9.9 out of 10, with only the LG G6 OLED (which offers the same image but better styling and sound for $2,000 more) coming out ahead.

But I digress.

Playing games at 1080p in my living room was already possible. But now that I have an incredible 4k display in the living room, it's a whole other level of difficulty. Not just twice as hard – and remember current consoles barely manage to eke out 1080p at 30fps in most games – but four times as hard. That's where external GPU power comes in.

The cool technology underpinning all of this is Thunderbolt 3. The thunderbolt cable bundled with the Razer Core is rather … diminutive. There's a reason for this.

Is there a maximum cable length for Thunderbolt 3 technology?

Thunderbolt 3 passive cables have maximum lengths.

  • 0.5m TB 3 (40Gbps)
  • 1.0m TB 3 (20Gbps)
  • 2.0m TB 3 (20Gbps)

In the future we will offer active cables which will provide 40Gbps of bandwidth at longer lengths.

40Gbps is, for the record, an insane amount of bandwidth. Let's use our rule of thumb based on ultra common gigabit ethernet, that 1 gigabit = 120 megabytes/second, and we arrive at 4.8 gigabytes/second. Zow.

That's more than enough bandwidth to run even the highest of high end video cards, but it is not without overhead. There's a mild performance hit for running the card externally, on the order of 15%. There's also a further performance hit of 10% if you are in "loopback" mode on a laptop where you don't have an external display, so the video frames have to be shuttled back from the GPU to the internal laptop display.

This may look like a gamer-only thing, but surprisingly, it isn't. What you get is the general purpose ability to attach any PCI express card to any computer with a Thunderbolt 3 port and, for the most part, it just works!

Linus breaks it down and answers all your most difficult questions:

Please watch the above video closely if you're actually interested in this stuff; it is essential. I'll add some caveats of my own after working with the Razer Core for a while:

  • Make sure the video card you plan to put into the Razer Core is not too tall, or too wide. You can tell if a card is going to be too tall by looking at pictures of the mounting rear bracket. If the card extends significantly above the standard rear mounting bracket, it won't fit. If the card takes more than 2 slots in width, it also won't fit, but this is more rare. Depth (length) is rarely an issue.

  • There are four fans in the Razer Core and although it is reasonably quiet, it's not super silent or anything. You may want to mod the fans. The Razer Core is a remarkably simple device, internally, it's really just a power supply, some Thunderbolt 3 bridge logic, and a PCI express slot. I agree with Linus that the #1 area Razer could improve in the future, beyond generally getting the price down, is to use fewer and larger fans that run quieter.

  • If you're putting a heavy hitter GPU in the Razer Core, I'd try to avoid blower style cards (the ones that exhaust heat from the rear) in favor of those that cool with large fans blowing down and around the card. Dissipating 150w+ is no mean feat and you'll definitely need to keep the enclosure in open air … and of course within 0.5 meters of the computer it's connected to.

  • There is no visible external power switch on the Razer Core. It doesn't power on until you connect a TB3 cable to it. I was totally not expecting that. But once connected, it powers up and the Windows 10 Thunderbolt 3 drivers kick in and ask you to authorize the device, which I did (always authorize). Then it spun a bit, detected the new GPU, and suddenly I had multiple graphics card active on the same computer. I also installed the latest Nvidia drivers just to make sure everything was ship shape.

  • It's kinda ... weird having multiple GPUs simultaneously active. I wanted to make the Razer Core display the only display, but you can't really turn off the built in GPU – you can select "only use display 2", that's all. I got into several weird states where windows were opening on the other display and I had to mess around a fair bit to get things locked down to just one display. You may want to consider whether you have both "displays" connected for troubleshooting, or not.

And then, there I am, playing Lego Marvel in splitscreen co-op at glorious 3840 × 2160 UltraHD resolution on an amazing OLED display with my son. It is incredible.

Beyond the technical "because I could", I am wildly optimistic about the future of external Thunderbolt 3 expansion boxes, and here's why:

  • The main expense and bottleneck in any stonking gaming rig is, by far, the GPU. It's also the item you are most likely to need to replace a year or two from now.

  • The CPU and memory speeds available today are so comically fast that any device with a low-end i3-7100 for $120 will make zero difference in real world gaming at 1080p or higher … if you're OK with 30fps minimum. If you bump up to $200, you can get a quad-core i5-7500 that guarantees you 60fps minimum everywhere.

  • If you prefer a small system or a laptop, an external GPU makes it so much more flexible. Because CPU and memory speeds are already so fast, 99.9% of the time your bottleneck is the GPU, and almost any small device you can buy with a Thunderbolt 3 port can now magically transform into a potent gaming rig with a single plug. Thunderbolt 3 may be a bit cutting edge today, but more and more devices are shipping with Thunderbolt 3. Within a few years, I predict TB3 ports will be as common as USB3 ports.

  • A general purpose external PCI express enclosure will be usable for a very long time. My last seven video card upgrades were plug and play PCI Express cards that would have worked fine in any computer I've built in the last ten years.

  • External GPUs are not meaningfully bottlenecked by Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth; the impact is 15% to 25%, and perhaps even less over time as drivers and implementations mature. While Thunderbolt 3 has "only" PCI Express x4 bandwidth, many benchmarkers have noted that GPUs moving from PCI Express x16 to x8 has almost no effect on performance. And there's always Thunderbolt 4 on the horizon.

The future, as they say, is already here – it's just not evenly distributed.

I am painfully aware that costs need to come down. Way, way down. The $499 Razer Core is well made, on the vanguard of what's possible, a harbinger of the future, and fantastically enough, it does even more than what it says on the tin. But it's not exactly affordable.

I would absolutely love to see a modest, dedicated $200 external Thunderbolt 3 box that included an inexpensive current-gen GPU. This would clobber any onboard GPU on the planet. Let's compare my Skull Canyon NUC, which has Intel's fastest ever, PS4 class embedded GPU, with the modest $150 GeForce GTX 1050 Ti:

1920 × 1080 high detail
Bioshock Infinite15 → 79 fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider12 → 49 fps
Overwatch43 → 114 fps

As predicted, that's a 3x-5x stompdown. Mac users lamenting their general lack of upgradeability, hear me: this sort of box is exactly what you want and need. Imagine if Apple was to embrace upgrading their laptops and all-in-one systems via Thunderbolt 3.

I know, I know. It's a stretch. But a man can dream … of externally upgradeable GPUs. That are too expensive, sure, but they are here, right now, today. They'll only get cheaper over time.

[advertisement] Find a better job the Stack Overflow way - what you need when you need it, no spam, and no scams.

Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye

Source

Det fanns något otroligt charmigt i de peka och klicka-äventyr som vi fick vår beskärda del av under framförallt 90-talet. Det är en genre som kanske inte dog ut helt (vi har sett en del äventyr av det slaget de senaste åren) men den har åtminstone blivit aningen bortglömd. VR-titeln Retropolis 2 kan närmast beskrivas som ett sådant typ av spel men i första person och då i VR. Vi återser detektiven Philips Log från det första spelet från 2021 och eftersom jag inte spelade det så fick jag kika på lite videos och läsa om spelets handling för att vara redo inför denna uppföljare.

Philips älskare Jenny försvinner mystiskt och en figur som kallad sig för The Magician säger sig ha henne i sitt fångenskap. Vi får ett spel som är indelat i fyra episoder där Philips då kastas in i ett mysterium som både storymässigt men framförallt spelmässigt påminner om just forna dagars peka och klicka-titlar. Man ser spelet ur första persons-perspektiv men kan inte vandra fritt runt utan använder de långa robotarmarna för att undersöka objekt i omgivningen. "Robot?", frågar du dig kanske. Och ja, invånarna i staden Retropolis är alla av det mekaniska slaget, vi bjuds på en slags futuristisk noir-stil med skarpa färger och en charmig visuell stil som dessutom är handritad. Hela spelets atmosfär andas verkligen av något alldeles speciellt och jag gillar den designen som valts även om omgivningarna ofta kan kännas lite öde.
<bild>Alla bra detektiv-historier startar på en sliskig bar.</bild>
I varje av dessa omgivningar finns ofta ett antal föremål som måste plockas upp och placeras på något ställe för att komma vidare. Det är ibland ganska klurigt men samtidigt väldigt tydligt när man lyckas och man förstår ofta snabbt vad som ska placeras var. Man har även en liten kista där man kan placera föremålen så man slipper bära runt dem. Sedan gäller det mest att utforska själva scenen i sig och då placera föremål eller lösa något slags pussel för att ta sig vidare i handlingen och komma till nya platser.

Retropolis 2 är ganska simpelt på många vis, vilket är meningen. Utvecklarna vill bjuda på en avslappnande och lättillgänglig spelupplevelse som ska spelas sittandes och utan att man behöver röra på sig särskilt mycket. För mig passar detta utmärkt, men jag saknar verkligen det med att kunna gå omkring på platserna man besöker. Man är liksom alltid låst på plats och kan enbart vrida sig runt, men inte röra sig runt eller närmare saker utan man sträcker bara armarna mot saker som lyser upp ifall de kan integreras med. Själva interaktionen med saker är okej men ganska sparsmakad och det blir lite för enkelt och avskalat när just rörelsemönstret är låst i sin position. Jag förstår poängen med att göra ett spel där man bara klickar och vrider men det blir som sagt lite för simpelt.
<bild>Retropolis är en neonsprakande stad.</bild>
Även om en del av det visuella är avskalat med stora svarta ytor och ljuskällor som bara visar det som visas skall, är den visuella stilen nog för att göra det hela väldigt charmigt. Jag gillar allt från animationer på robot-karaktärer och designen på flertalet platser. De korta mellansekvenserna som man ser som små filmer ryker dock ut mig ur den virtuella verkligheten när man ser dem som en film i 2D. Men överlag är designen något som förhöjer denna spelupplevelse mycket och det bjuds på många roliga detaljer i alltifrån skyltar till den stundtals finurliga dialogen. Röstskådespelet är genomgående bra och musiken förhöjer ofta stämningen och känns väldigt passande för äventyret.

De fyra episoderna som utgör berättelsen är dryga timmen i sig vardera - beroende på hur snabbt man löser klurigheter förstås och man kan även enkelt komma åt en walk through I textform via menyn. En del pussel känns inte helt självklara eller logiska men vill man ha lite hjälp utan att få hela lösningen så är det ett bra hjälpmedel att kunna tjuvkika lite på och slippa frustrationen av att sitta fast länge på något pusslet.
<bild>Spelet bjuder på en del pussel som alla känns lagom kluriga.</bild>
Det finns mycket att uppskattas Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye och när jag kikade på en genomgång av det första spelet står det klart att man utvecklat en hel del från det. Jag gillar spelets säregna charm och pussel är något jag alltid personligen uppskattar. Som så ofta fungerar just detta väldigt bra i VR.

Spelet i sig känns dock lite väl avskalat och gör egentligen inte så mycket nytt för formatet i sig, mer än att då lite nostalgiskt påminna om just den genre jag pratade om i inledningen. Det är dock ett underhållande äventyr under hela vägen och bjuder på några timmars bra underhållning och lagom kluriga pussel förpackat tillsammans med en häftig design.

Russian court sentences U.S. soldier to nearly 4 years, state media reports

Source by The Associated Press

The sentencing of Staff Sgt. Gordon Black on charges of stealing and threats of murder further complicates U.S. relations with Russia, which have grown increasingly tense over the fighting in Ukraine.U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black sits in a glass cage in courtroom in Vladivostok, Russia, on Wednesday.

The sentencing of Staff Sgt. Gordon Black on charges of stealing and threats of murder further complicates U.S. relations with Russia, which have grown increasingly tense over the fighting in Ukraine.

(Image credit: AP)

Learn AutoCAD Basics: DAY 11

Source by Andreea

Learn AutoCAD Basics: DAY 11

It is a long way to solving these AutoCAD challenges. If this is your first time here, I will invite you to check the list of all AutoCAD tutorial series here. Learning AutoCAD Basics Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 The two red lines are both axes of symmetry of the object. Figure 4 Details ...

Read more

Learn AutoCAD Basics: DAY 11

It is a long way to solving these AutoCAD challenges. If this is your first time here, I will invite you to check the list of all AutoCAD tutorial series here.

Learning AutoCAD Basics

Figure 1

inclined image autocad

Figure 2

rotation autocad

Figure 3

The two red lines are both axes of symmetry of the object.

autocad 2d exercise

Figure 4

Details about the object inside the ellipse.

2d autocad challenge

Figure 5

2d autocad challenge

Execution

The ELLIPSE command in AutoCAD

We will need to use the ELLIPSE command in this session.

ellipse icon autocad

To use the ELLIPSE command

  1. Click on the ELLIPSE icon
  2. Specify the center of the ellipse
  3. Move the cursor in the direction of the first axis, type its value, and press Enter.
  4. Type the value of the second axis and press Enter

The Polar tracking

For this experiment, we will use POLAR TRACKING. Activating the following mode of POLAR TRACKING will help ease our task.

tracking setting autocad

Creating the Ellipse

The ellipse is bent with an angle of 45 degrees.

  1. Activate the ELLIPSE command.
  2. Specify the center of the Ellipse.
  3. Track 45 degrees
  4. Type 70.5 and press ENTER
  5. Type 52 and press ENTER

You should have the following.

ellipse autocad

After creating the ellipse, all you need to do is find the centerline of the ellipse, OFFSET the ellipse and the line with an OFFSET value of 15.5. The resulting image should look similar to the following.

2d image autocad

Use the TRIM command to obtain the wanted object.

Creating the remaining piece

To create the cross, you need to:

Step 1

Create the following: you can find the length of the red line using the information given earlier.

symetrie autocad

Step 2

Create a mirrored copy of the current object. The line of symmetry should have an inclination angle of 45 degrees starting from the left end of the drawing.

2d image

Step 3

Create a vertical line that will serve as the new line of symmetry. The new line must have an end familiar with the center of the newly created circle.

2d autocad exercise

You don’t have to select the highlighted circle using the MIRROR command.

After obtaining the figure we have just received, you can use the same trick to get the other part of the image. And that will be it. Combining both structures should not be an issue.

Learn AutoCAD Basics in 21 DAYS

EU HTA: If we want faster access to cancer treatment for all, we need to get it right

Source by Nathalie Moll, director general, EFPIA

In January 2025 the EU HTA Regulation will become reality. Let’s work together to ensure it facilitates faster patient access to new cancer treatments.

Although more people are being diagnosed with cancer, deaths are slowing down. New therapies, along with advances in prevention, screening and new treatment modalities, are improving and saving lives every day. For example, the number of lung cancer patients that are alive one year after diagnosis is more than 10 times higher than in 1995.

While there is still much work to do if we are to further improve outcomes for all cancers, we see opportunities to usher in new waves of innovation.

How will the new EU Health Technology Assessments (HTA) Regulation facilitate improving cancer outcomes?

Our aspiration is to get these treatments to patients as quickly as possible. However, the imminent implementation of the HTA Regulation and introduction of Joint Clinical Assessments (JCA) in 2025 create uncertainty about the speed at which breakthrough cancer treatments will reach patients in the future.

via EFPIA

EU-level JCAs will be used to inform the value rating of a medicine and ultimately pricing and reimbursement decisions at national level. The new rules aim to improve the availability of innovative medicines for patients, ensure the efficient use of resources and strengthen the quality of HTA by harmonizing the approach to clinical assessments across the EU and reducing multiplicative efforts across individual EU HTA bodies. We share the objectives of HTA reform. However, at the same time we are concerned about how JCAs will work in practice based on the current proposals.

We share the objectives of HTA reform. However, at the same time we are concerned about how JCAs will work in practice based on the current proposals.

With fewer than seven months until the future EU HTA system becomes operational, details on how this approach will work are urgently needed so that companies developing new medicines can plan accordingly. For companies developing innovation in the oncology and advanced therapy medicinal products, the EU HTA is no longer a theoretical exercise. They are now preparing JCA dossiers for technologies expected to undergo the European Medicine Agency’s review starting in January 2025 and making the necessary changes to internal operating models to ensure readiness. To get it right for patients, they urgently need additional clarity on the procedures, methods and timelines for the new system.

As science evolves, the EU HTA system should adapt

To help inform this urgent conversation, the EFPIA Oncology Platform commissioned Evidera to undertake detailed research on the proposed reforms. The report applied the EUnetHTA 21 proposed methods guidelines to three recently approved cancer medicines to understand the implications of the proposed methods on future JCAs. Findings show that these guidelines do not consider the development context and specificities of innovative therapies. The research also finds that, if applied from 2025, this approach would hamper access to some of the most cutting-edge products in the research pipeline.

The research also finds that, if applied from 2025, this approach would hamper access to some of the most cutting-edge products in the research pipeline.

A critical part of the future JCAs will be the scope, or the set of data analysis that are requested for each new medicine application. Evidera’s analysis resulted in a very wide assessment scope (i.e. a very large number of population and comparator combinations, ranging from 15 to 57), which is expected to happen frequently when utilizing the additive approach in the highly dynamic oncology landscape. To address this wide anticipated scope, all three technologies would have required complex analysis methods or real-world data, even in the cases where ‘gold standard’ randomized controlled trials were available. Furthermore, an arithmetic proliferation of analyses, based on such a wide scope, which may not even be fully relevant or used at national level for decision-making, would be detrimental to everybody involved.

Getting it right for patients

More flexibility, pragmatism and closer dialogue with the stakeholders impacted by the JCA (patients and clinicians, but also the company developing the innovative technology) in the application of the methodologies is needed.

For example, in many cancers, survival is improving and, for others, is becoming a chronic condition. JCAs should also consider all oncology-relevant endpoints, not just overall survival, which the methods guidelines do not prioritize. How we assess benefit needs to reflect the specificities of modern cancer treatment, and a wide range of measures and endpoints should be considered useful and assessed in a JCA, as they capture different impacts of a treatment on patients’ lives, as well as downstream relevance for patient-clinician decision-making.

The EU HTA Regulation gives the EU an opportunity to develop a world leading HTA system, but it mustn’t become an additional bureaucratic barrier that delays access. Europe should seize this opportunity and apply state-of-the-art methods to assessments and not use the lowest common denominator.

The EU HTA Regulation gives the EU an opportunity to develop a world leading HTA system, but it mustn’t become an additional bureaucratic barrier that delays access.

Based on research by Evidera, the EFPIA Oncology Platform has developed the following recommendations designed to address the challenges that may arise from JCAs:

  • Ensure meaningful and timely involvement of health technology developers, clinical experts and patients in defining how new therapies will be assessed.
  • Utilize an optimized evidence-based scoping process with clear methodology on how to identify and harmonize EU JCA data needs, while achieving the regulation’s efficiency objectives.
  • Provide comprehensive and flexible advice, critical to accommodate for the dynamic oncology treatment landscape.
  • Leverage state-of-the-art methodology and all available evidence, including real-world data and the latest HTA data synthesis techniques.
  • Consider the totality of oncology-relevant endpoints in JCAs going beyond survival alone to include cancer-free survival, quality of life and patient-relevant outcomes.

Delivering for patients

The EU HTA Regulation is a fantastic opportunity to speed up access to medicines for patients in Europe. At a time when science in oncology is transforming how we treat the disease, we want to match that innovation with how we utilize the new HTA Regulation to create faster access for patients across Europe. Collectively, we need a clear, workable and predictable framework for all stakeholders to be fully functional by the time the first products are assessed. EFPIA is ready to work with the Coordination Group, the European Commission and the HTA Stakeholder Network to help define optimal implementing arrangements and guidelines that will enable the future system to deliver on its objective of bringing medicines to patients faster.


Is ‘Ultra-Processed’ Food Really That Bad for You?

Source by Beth Skwarecki

Ultra-processed food (UPF) has been linked to heart disease and other health conditions. But what it is exactly, and how can we avoid it?

We eat a lot of ultra-processed food. It's everywhere, and the cheapest grocery options are often ultra-processed ones. That's why it's concerning that ultra-processed foods have been linked to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, mental health disorders, and everyone's favorite, all-cause mortality. So what counts as ultra-processed food? Let's dig in, and maybe question a few assumptions along the way.

Here's a big caveat worth remembering: When studies look at the health of people who do and don't eat ultra-processed foods, they're not necessarily studying the fact that the food is ultra-processed. We can say that a diet high in candy bars is bad for us, but is that because the candy bars are ultra-processed, or because they're full of sugar? That's not a question that the current research can really untangle, but it's important to ask ourselves as we learn more. Are ultra-processed foods always bad, or are they just a category that includes a lot of food we should eat less of?

How are ultra-processed foods defined?

This terminology comes from a classification scheme called NOVA that splits foods into four groups:

  • Unprocessed or “minimally processed” foods (group 1) include fruits, vegetables, and meats. Perhaps you’ve pulled a carrot out of the ground and washed it, or killed a cow and sliced off a steak. Foods in this category can be processed in ways that don’t add extra ingredients. They can be cooked, ground, dried, or frozen.

  • Processed culinary ingredients (group 2) include sugar, salt, and oils. If you combine ingredients in this group, for example to make salted butter, they stay in this group.

  • Processed foods (group 3) are what you get when you combine groups 1 and 2. Bread, wine, and canned veggies are included. Additives are allowed if they “preserve [a food’s] original properties” like ascorbic acid added to canned fruit to keep it from browning.

  • Ultra-processed foods (group 4) don’t have a strict definition, but NOVA hints at some properties. They “typically” have five or more ingredients. They may be aggressively marketed and highly profitable. A food is automatically in group 4 if it includes “substances not commonly used in culinary preparations, and additives whose purpose is to imitate sensory qualities of group 1 foods or of culinary preparations of these foods, or to disguise undesirable sensory qualities of the final product.”

That last group feels a little disingenuous. I’ve definitely seen things in my kitchen that are supposedly only used to make “ultra-processed” foods: food coloring, flavor extracts, artificial sweeteners, anti-caking agents (cornstarch, anyone?) and tools for extrusion and molding, to name a few.

Are ultra-processed foods always bad?

So we've learned that packaged snack cakes are ultra-processed, and so is a factory-baked loaf of bread that has 20 ingredients. Orange juice whose flavor has been manipulated would count, too. Coke and Diet Coke are both solidly in this category. It seems logical that we should eat less of these things.

But you could argue that the real problem with these foods is that they’re often sugary and high calorie, and many of the less-healthy members of the category are what stock the vending machines and convenience stores that beckon to us when we’re hungry and haven’t packed a lunch. The problem with these foods is that a diet full of them is unbalanced, due to the nutrition they do or don’t contain. The processing itself isn’t the problem.

So when we talk about ultra-processed foods, we have to remember that it’s a vague category that only loosely communicates the nutrition of its foods. Just like BMI combines muscley athletes with obese people because it makes for convenient math, NOVA categories combine things of drastically different nutritional quality.

Why the level of processing isn't always the most important thing

Illustrating the point above, the USDA published their own study showing how you can create a healthy diet out of ultra-processed foods. A homemade breakfast burrito, for example, might contain canned beans, liquid egg whites, shredded cheese, and a store-bought tortilla. Those ingredients might be ultra-processed, but they're nutritionally nothing like grabbing a Cinnabon on your way to work.

A pet peeve of mine is that the NOVA classification sometimes draws distinctions between things that aren’t really nutritionally different. Wine is in group 3 next to cheese and fresh bread, but cocktails are in group 4 with the Twinkies. Hard liquor has been distilled, you see, so it’s ultra-processed.

Canned vegetables are in group 3 (processed) while their fresh counterparts are in group 1. But canned veggies aren’t any less nutritious. Meanwhile, dried fruit is in group 1 (so wholesome!) even though it can be more sugary than cakes or cookies.

There's a lot of overlap between unhealthy(?) foods and ultra-processed foods, so I understand why scientists are studying ultra-processed foods as a group. But demonizing UPF, as they're sometimes called, often ends up putting the cheapest, most widely available food in the most shameful category. Is that fair, or does it just make you feel better when you’re eating fresh green beans and scoffing at people who buy canned?

The NOVA scale isn’t totally useless: It helps researchers keep an eye on how much of our food is coming from large-scale manufacturers. But it’s not a great way to evaluate what’s in our grocery bags, or on our plates.

Google Could Be Cooking Up a New Nest Thermostat With Soli Radar

Source by Florence Ion

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Google about the smart home, but a recent new FCC listing related to the company suggests something on the horizon.

Read more...

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

Source

För drygt två år sedan delade jag ut Gamereactors maxbetyg till Elden Ring, ett betyg jag än idag står bestämt bakom då jag anser det vara ett av världens bästa äventyrsspel. Sättet From Software bröt sig fri från sitt egna framgångsrecept samtidigt som man bibehöll det som gjorde spel som {Dark Souls} och {Bloodborne} så otroligt underhållande var nämligen en bedrift värd att applådera, och ända sedan man annonserade att en expansion till samma spel var på väg har jag legat sömnlös och ivrigt väntat på det som komma skall. Nu är tillägget Shadow of the Erdtree äntligen här, och även om det finns några få brister att anmärka för den som vill vara petig så går det inte att förneka att ett redan mästerligt spel har i detta nu blivit ännu lite bättre.
<bild>Ett kärt återseende.</bild>
För att ta del av denna expansion måste man som spelare först klara av en tämligen stor del av grundspelet, detta då Shadow of the Erdtree uppenbarligen är designat för spelare som har välutvecklade karaktärer och förståelse för den grundläggande spelmekaniken. Utmaningen som väntar må förvisso inte vara av den mest brutala sorten, men om du inte är en av de där jäklarna som kan klara av att bemästra {Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice} med en rockband-trumma som kontrollmetod så föreslår jag att ni åtminstone är över level hundra, och med ett gäng bra utrustning-möjligheter som matchar. För det förekommer en hel del tuffa fiender i den här expansionen, och även om det kanske inte finns en överdriven mängd bosstrider värd etiketten "episka" så kryllar allt från de vidöppna slätterna till de gotiska slotten av monster som vill dig illa, och den minsta av fotsoldater kan fortfarande förpassa dig till efterlivet om du inte är vaksam.
<bild>Vissa fiender från grundspelet återvänder i expansionen, och vissa bataljer blir således lite för familjära emellanåt.</bild>
Till skillnad från själva grundspelet så utspelar sig dock inte Shadow of the Erdtree i "The Lands Between" utan detta är en helt ny och separat karta bortkopplad från det övriga äventyret. Skådeplatsen kallas Land of Shadow, och det är en parallell värld där det förekommer mycket liknande estetik från "Landet däremellan" där guld och gyllene dekorationer agerar hörnstenar i designen. Det är även ett relativt tungt fokus på eld genom samtliga miljöer då enorma lava-sprutande jättar härjar över slätterna, och det förekommer även en hel del mindre grottor och övergivna verkstäder där forna smeder har lämnat kvar eftertraktade vapen och andra föremål för oss som spelare att hitta. Annars är mycket sig likt från det vi kunde hitta år 2022, och det är överlag inte lika distinkt annorlunda från utvecklarens tidigare expansioner där det har funnits ett mer tydligt avbräck rent visuellt från det man upplevt dessförinnan. Det finns absolut platser som "poppar" ut mer än andra, men på det stora hela så är det en familjär känsla man möts av - på gott och ont.
<bild>Miljöerna är såväl tjusiga som rymliga.</bild>
Det är dock dumt att klaga på att det är "mer av samma" när man som sagt delade upp maxbetyget för två år sedan. För Shadow of the Erdtree känns verkligen som en kompakt {Elden Ring}-upplevelse, eller en form av "Best of" av det vi tog del av förut. Det vankas enorma miljöer att utforska, en stor variation av bossar och fiender att besegra och mängder av nya hemligheter och föremål att hitta. Gillade man grundspelet så kommer man gilla expansionen helt enkelt, och det enda "minuset" jag kan komma på är att vi inte får något som känns så där särskilt nytt och fräscht, eller något som skakar om fundamentet som vi tidigare stått så stabilt på. Det är en säker satsning med andra ord, och även om det i sig inte är fel så önskar äventyraren i mig att man hade vågat vara lite mer experimentell och kastat fler nya koncept mot oss som spelare och därmed fått upplevelsen att sticka ut än mer.
<bild>Bossarna bjuder på god utmaning, och du har en del nya verktyg och förmågor för att underlätta striderna.</bild>
Det går dock inte att säga att man inte får valuta för sina pengar här. Världen man utforskar är visserligen inte i närheten av det vi fick se i grundspelet, men det är fortfarande en massiv karta att utforska där det allra mesta osar av kvalitet. Utöver bossarna som man måste klara för att nå slutet förekommer det exempelvis mängder av frivilliga monster att dräpa, och även om du givetvis kan springa rakt förbi den där skräckinjagande draken som slåss med ett förband soldater eller smyga förbi de ovannämnda eldjättarna så finns de otroligt mycket tillfredsställelse och mervärde att hämta om man tar sig tiden att tackla alla hinder i sin väg.

Storyn är sedan i klassisk From Software-stil där det medvetet är väldigt kryptiskt, och man får pussla ihop helheten på egen hand. Jag kan dock tycka att det från start är lite väl snålt med sammanhang då man mer eller mindre transporteras till en annan värld och får börja utforska som man vill. Inget fel på det i sig såklart, och utvecklaren har lyckats med likande metoder tidigare, men här hade jag nog ändå föredragit lite mer kontext initialt då de första timmarna annars lätt kan präglas av känslan av ytterligare en karta man enbart ska rensa från otyg. En bagatell på det stora hela kan tyckas, men ändå något jag känner är värd att vädra.
<bild>Det grafiska är fortfarande inte i toppklass, men designen är som alltid briljant.</bild>
I slutändan är dock Shadows of the Eertree ett väldigt bra tillägg till ett redan mästerligt spel. Det är mer av det som vi har kommit att älska, och det enda man kan klaga på är att det känns lite för säkert på sina håll från en utvecklare som annars brukar vilja dra ut på svängarna. Denna expansionen når till exempel inte upp till de mästerliga nivåerna av Artorias of the Abyss från Dark Souls (som jag tycker är värd 10/10) eller The Old Hunters till Bloodborne (9/10), men det man förlorar i ren kvalitet väger man upp med en större mängd kvantitet, och jag tycker att man slutligen landar strax under den nämnda Bloodborne-expansion sett till helheten. Så om du gillade Elden Ring för två år sedan och har eftersökt en anledning att återvända så är detta kort och gott ett ypperligt tillfälle att återigen grabba tag om det där bredsvärdet, sadla om din gethäst och ge dig ut på ytterligare ett äventyr. Om du däremot kände dig mätt efter att eftertexterna rullade, eller inte gillande originalet till att börja med (skäms på dig, Jonas Mäki) så finns det tyvärr inget här som kommer ändra på det.
<bild>Wow-känslan är kanske inte lika stark år 2024 som den var 2022, men Shadow of the Erdtree agerar som ett grymt komplement till det mästerliga huvudäventyret.</bild>

Mixture

Source

Varje gång jag kliver in i den virtuella verkligheten är det med ett stort mått av glädje och förväntning, trots att jag sedan länge lite bittert insett att ändå merparten av de upplevelser formatet erbjuder allt som oftast inte når några enorma höjder. Ändå kan jag inte låta bli att hoppas att jag ska bli underhållen. Lite väl naivt, kan tyckas, men det är ändå något med det där att dra på sig hjälmen och försvinna in i en värld som tilltalar mig. Jag anser att formatet i sig och den upplevelse det unikt ändå kan erbjuda har en enorm potential, men som tur är så är jag samtidigt en så pass luttrad spelande veteran att jag kan urskilja ett dåligt spel oavsett hur fräckt jag nu tycker det är med just VR. Den omedelbara tjusningen spelar liksom ingen roll om spelet i sedan visar sig vara tråkigt.

Sola heter den lilla riddare i skinande rustning som jag styr genom detta fantasy-äventyret. Själva konceptet är inspirerat från de fantastiska Moss-titlarna som jag tycker tillhör det där övre skiktet av riktigt bra VR-upplevelser. Jag ser således Sola från ett perspektiv ovanifrån samtidigt jag agerar en slags hjälpande hand med de strapatser hon ställs inför. Den främsta spelmekaniken är både finurlig och frustrerande på samma gång och både förhöjer och sänker upplevelsen, ironiskt nog. Runtom i miljöerna finns olika former av substanser jag kan samla in, jag kan sedan öppna ett hjul och fylla en flaska som jag kan kasta för att påverka både miljöer och fiender. Den allra första är något som liknar klister som exempelvis stänger av lufthål, eller får fiender att fastna. Den andra gör att Sola exempelvis kan studsa på plattformar, eller gör att fiender blir styrande projektiler.
<bild>Miljöerna är färggranna men den kantigta stilen gör att de känns rätt trista ändå.</bild>
Det är ett finurligt, interaktivt och kul koncept som används flitigt. Men utförandet är inte helt klockrent i vare sig att ta upp det hjul där jag väljer vilken substans jag ska fylla en flaska med, och att sedan kasta den är något som inte alltid lyckas så bra. Även med ett automatiskt sikte flyger flaskorna för kort, eller inte alls men det fungerar dock de flesta gångerna. Det blir dock rätt frustrerande i strider eller när ett moment av plattformande kräver tajming och är något som hade behövts slipats till en del för att fungera tillfredsställande. idén kring att styra hjälten med styrspak och knappar samtidigt som man även använder händerna och gör rörelser känns bra, men här hade den alltså behövts fungera ännu bättre för att detta verkligen skulle lyfta spelet.

Vid sidan om lite miljöbaserade pussel så är det gott om strider i Mixture. Det gillar att kasta flertalet fiender på dig samtidigt och användandet av den nämnda flaskan med klister är ett bra hjälpmedel här, logiskt nog eftersom det under en kort period får fiender att stanna upp. I övrigt kan Sola göra attacker undvika med en kvick rörelse. Spelet låser ibland en del områden där du måste besegra alla fiender innan du kommer vidare och det är flertalet sådana här moment som känns som direkt inspirerade från Moss, så om man har spelat det är det mycket som känns igen. Dock saknas en hel del av den charmen som finns i de spelen, framförallt den sagolika charmen och en berättelse som ackompanjerar de äventyren. Det finns en sådan hä, men är otroligt anonym och inga karaktärer eller mellansekvenser gör direkt mycket för att bidra med någon sorts spänning.
<bild>VR-formatet bjuder på en del intressanta och uppslukande tillfällen.</bild>
Alltifrån design och musik är också tyvärr ganska blekt. Det bjuds på en del bra och storslagna ögonblick där VR får skina lite och vyer och nivåerna är på sina håll ganska mäktiga om än rätt kala och inte så estetiskt tilltalande. Det är skarpa färger och bra kontraster men det är väldigt mycket karga och klippiga landskap där det är fattigt på detaljer och liv runtom. Problemet är mycket att även när saker som floran och omgivningarna varieras så gör den visuella stilen att allting ändå gör att det ser ut att vara stöpt i samma kantiga mall. Dessutom har karaktärerna ett slags mumlande The Sims-liknande språk istället för riktiga röster vilket inte känns så välgjort. Det grafiska är långt ifrån fult men inget som direkt imponerar.

Mixture är i stort ganska roligt men underhållningen dras tyvärr ned av några små enkla saker. Dels rör sig Sola rätt slött och för oss som gillar att vrida kameran helt, snarare än att låta den hoppa runt, känns även detta segt som sirap att göra. Detta medför ett övergripande tempo och flyt som inte riktigt tilltalar mig då jag hade velat ha betydligt mer smidighet och fart. Med tiden kan man låsa upp fler attacker och andra uppgraderingar vilket gör att sådana saker blir aningen bättre, men det är ändå synd att just hastigheten på karaktären jag styr samt då kameran känns alldeles för långsamma.
<bild>På spelets första boss får man direkt lära sig hur man måste använda de olika flaskorna. Tyvärr är det stundtals alltför klumpigt att sikta rätt.</bild>
Mixture är en blandad kompott. Det har ett unikt koncept med att samla material och använda det och man känner sig delaktig när man får göra något mer än bara styra karaktären. Perspektivet som används, som vi då tidigare sett i exempelvis Moss och Astro Bot, gör det hela funktionellt och överskådligt. Här finns en gnutta av fantasi som ändå gör det hyfsat roligt men det känns samtidigt rätt visuellt trist och blir i slutändan bara ett okej äventyr både som spel och som en upplevelse i VR.

Feds Sue Adobe for 'Trapping' Customers in Long, Expensive Subscriptions

Source by Maxwell Zeff

The U.S. government sued Adobe on Monday for allegedly “trapping” customers in its default, most lucrative subscription plan. In a complaint, the Department of Justice (DOJ) writes that Adobe locks customers into a year-long agreement that’s not effectively disclosed as such, and “ambushing” users with hefty hidden…

Read more...

France&#8217;s Kylian Mbappé Suffers Broken Nose, Needs Protective Mask to Play on at Euro 2024 Tournament

Source by James Robson / AP

The World Cup winning striker collided with Austria's Kevin Danso in a Monday match at the Euro 2024 tournament.

Euro 2024 Soccer Austria France

DUSSELDORF, Germany — Kylian Mbappé suffered a broken nose during France’s 1-0 win against Austria at the European Championship on Monday and will have to wear a protective mask if he plays on at the tournament.

The World Cup winning striker had to be substituted after colliding with Austria’s Kevin Danso during the Group D match at Dusseldorf Arena and France coach Didier Deschamps did not know in the immediate aftermath if the injury would rule him out of the rest of Euro 2024.

He was taken to a hospital in Dusseldorf and the France’s Football Federation confirmed the extent of the injury.

“He will undergo treatment in the coming days, without undergoing surgery immediately,” it said in a statement. “A mask will be made so as to allow the number 10 of the French team to consider resuming competition after a period devoted to treatment.”

Mbappé sustained the injury in an aerial collision when his face struck Danso’s shoulder. Images showed Mbappé’s nose was bloodied and swollen and he was in obvious pain as Austria goalkeeper Patrick Pentz signaled for medical assistance.

Later he addressed the incident on social media.

“Any ideas for masks?” he posted on X.

France said he had returned to the team’s training camp with the rest of the squad.

How to Choose Between Proton Drive and Google Drive for Cloud Storage

Source by Joshua Hawkins

It all comes down to what’s most important to you: convenience or privacy?

When it comes to cloud storage, there are a lot of options to pick from. One of the most well-known and popular is Google Drive, and that’s because it’s included for free whenever you sign up for a Gmail account. But over the past couple of years, some enticing new contenders have entered the ring.

One of the most promising is Proton Drive, a privacy-first cloud storage option that uses complete end-to-end encryption while putting full control of who can access your data directly in your hands. It’s a nice change of pace, but can it really stand up to the titan that is Google’s cloud storage service, and is it a good alternative if you're trying to quit Google for good? Here’s how the two compare.

Proton Drive pricing plan
Credit: Proton AG

Storage space and pricing

One of the most enticing things about Google Drive is the free 15GB of storage space it gives you just for signing up. That’s a good chunk of space for backing up photos, emails, and other things—though keep in mind that attachments and other data tied to your email account do count toward your storage.

Proton Drive also offers a completely free option, though it tops off at 5GB, a notable difference from what Google offers. It’s easy to write Proton off because of that missing 10GB, but the competitor does have strengths elsewhere.

Both services also offer more “premium” storage options via monthly subscriptions. Google’s cheapest monthly plan, which is called Google One, is $1.99 a month and gets you 100GB of data, while Proton Drive’s cheapest option is $4.99 a month for 200GB. That’s another pretty big difference between what you’re paying and what you’re getting, so Google does still pull ahead on pure economy.

There are, of course, more expensive options. Google offers plans up to 20TB for $99 a month, while Proton tops out at 3TB for $29.99 a month. If you want more than that, you’ll need to look into the business plans for each service.

With storage and pricing in mind, Google does tend to offer a bit more bang for your buck. But note that Proton’s 3TB plan is technically the family version of Proton Unlimited, which means you can invite multiple people to take advantage of that data, plus you'll get the rest of Proton's services thrown in.

Sharing and features

Cloud storage is great for keeping track of all your personal documents, photos, videos, and so on. But it’s also a great way to share those items with your friends and family. Both Proton Drive and Google Drive make it easy to share those items with the people who matter.

In Google Drive, sharing options let you share either to individual Google accounts or to a list of accounts. You can also select whether people can edit or just view the shared content, and even share through a URL.

Proton also offers these same features, but layers on various extras. For instance, the service allows users to create “timed sharing links” that expire after a set amount of time, allowing you to give people temporary file access. You can even set up password-protected files, something Google Drive still does not do.

Both Google Drive and Proton Drive offer the option to audit your files to see who has downloaded them. This can help you keep track of where your files are going and who has been given access—helpful you’ve shared a publicly accessible link. Both services also offer apps on all the major operating systems, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. That means you can easily keep up with your files no matter what system you're using.

Overall, both services offer similar functionality for sharing files with others, and they both support the same types of files as well. The addition of timed sharing links does make Proton Drive a bit more appealing for those who want granular sharing control, but both services allow you to lock content at any time, restricting anyone from accessing it even if it was shared with them previously.

Proton promo art demonstrating data encryption
Credit: Proton AG

Privacy

This is the real difference between Google Drive and Proton Drive. Ultimately, it’s hard to beat Google Drive because of just how convenient it is. It’s tied to your Google account, you get 15GB for free, and most of the Google One plans are fairly affordable.

Proton Drive, on the other hand, is a bit more expensive and a bit stingier with the amount of storage space you get. However, Proton Drive takes your privacy a lot more seriously than Google does.

That isn’t to say that Google Drive isn’t secure. Google says that it uses end-to-end encryption to protect your files whenever they are in transit and at rest. However, it stores the keys needed to decrypt those files within its own servers, giving it access to your data should the tech giant ever need it.

Proton Drive, on the other hand, does not keep any access to your data. It is completely encrypted, giving only you and the people that you select access to the data. This provides a higher level of security and means that you can rest easy, knowing that nobody is going to be able to get access to your data through illegitimate means. Proton is also based out of Switzerland, which has some of the best security laws in the world at time of writing.

At the end of the day, Google Drive is perfectly fine for casually storing your documents, photos, and videos. But it doesn’t offer nearly the same level of privacy that Proton Drive does. Its extra premium is the price you pay for the peace of mind that comes with using Proton’s services. So, if you’re choosing between the two, it ultimately comes down to what you find more important—privacy or cost.

The answer, for me, is pretty clear. Privacy is king in this day and age, and Proton makes it easier to protect my personal information without having to jump through a lot of extra hoops. But for you, the answer might not be so easy to decide on, especially since some of Proton's features are still rolling out to its various apps. At any rate, because both services have free options, there's nothing stopping you from making use of one for some file and the other for the rest.

Indika

Source

Man måste tänka utanför boxen för att sticka ut i dagens spelvärld, och Odd Meter gör verkligen det. Den lilla studion, som tidigare var baserad i Moskva men nu är baserad i Kazakstan (jag tror inte att jag behöver förklara varför), har levererat ett spel som blandar teologiska debatter, dystra ryska vinterlandskap och märkliga 8 bits-element. Det borde inte fungera, men det gör det. Väldigt väl dessutom.

Vi befinner oss någonstans i Ryssland, långt österut och i slutet av 1800-talet. Fruktansvärda omvälvningar är på gång i det stora imperiet, men det är inte vad vår unga hjältinna Indika, en dygdig och undergiven nunna i ett medeltida kloster, bekymrar sig för. Det låter knappast som det mest slitsamma yrket, och Indika gör inledningsvis inte mycket för att motbevisa det antagandet. En av dina första uppgifter är att fylla en hink med vatten från klostrets brunn. Du hämtar mödosamt vattnet från brunnen och traskar genom den smutsiga snön. Inte en gång, inte två gånger, utan fem gånger. Och vad är din belöning? En nunna välter hinken och överöser dig med en salva av förvånansvärt okristliga förolämpningar.

<bild>En rysk, bister värld väntar med massor av skit under naglarna.</bild>

Och därmed är stämningen på plats. Indika vill uppenbarligen lära dig något, men efter att ha spelat igenom det är jag inte riktigt säker på exakt vad. Det beror inte bara på att jag är lite långsam i inlärningen eller saknar kunskap om den ortodoxa grenen av kristendomen. Nej, det beror snarare på att de inledande poängerna hamras in med ett tungt, repetitivt gameplay, men de tunga moraliska lektionerna släpps snabbt till förmån för en rolig, galen och inte så lite rörande roadtrip.

Efter den inledande förnedringen får Indika i uppgift att leverera ett brev till ett annat kloster en dagsresa bort. Det finns inga fiender att besegra längs vägen, och du kommer inte heller att hitta mat, värme eller andra resurser trots den bittra kylan och Indiskas anspråkslösa kläder. Istället måste du lösa en rad pussel som nästan alltid kräver att du manipulerar miljön på ett eller annat sätt. Det handlar ofta om att dra i en spak eller trycka på några lådor, vilket vi har sett tusen gånger förut. Men det spelar ingen roll, för varje enskild utmaning är väl sammansatt. Det finns inga glödande eller övernitiska hjälpare som efter två sekunder praktiskt taget ger dig lösningen. Det är helt enkelt inte nödvändigt.

<bild>Det är sällan religion hanteras på detta sätt i spelvärlden.</bild>

Tidigt i spelet klättrar du upp på taket till en förfallen byggnad. Där finns ett flyttbart kassaskåp, så logiskt nog försöker du knuffa det till ett hörn där det ser ut som om du - med nöd och näppe - kan nå en avsats. Problemet är att det instabila taket rör sig på grund av vikten, så det hamnar faktiskt längre upp när du har flyttat kassaskåpet. Jag ska inte avslöja den specifika vägen framåt här, utan bara konstatera att spelet väldigt ofta lockar med en enkel lösning, för att sedan komplicera pusslet med en intressant twist som ofta kräver att man håller ögon och öron öppna.

Förutom att det är bra speldesign stöder det också utvecklarna kritiska syn på dogmatisk religion: Enkla lösningar är aldrig vägen framåt, och världen är mer komplicerad än så. Men en enda lärdom från klosterlivet kommer ändå att gynna spelaren. Det är bra att känna till sina begränsningar. Indika visar sig vara en förvånansvärt resursstark karaktär, och hon är bra på att manipulera maskiner och klättra över små höjder. Men hon är ingen Super Mario. Hennes begränsade förmågor i kombination med miljöer som aldrig innehåller många interagerbara element är en annan anledning till att speldesignen fungerar. När man väl har förstått spelets premiss är man aldrig riktigt osäker på var man ska leta efter en lösning eller i vilken riktning man ska röra sig genom de till synes förvirrande miljöerna. Det är bra design, men du kanske önskar dig lite mer originalitet i några av pusslen. I synnerhet de segment där du omväxlande undertrycker dina tvivel och låter dem uttryckas för att ändra miljöerna kunde ha använts lite bättre. Det är visuellt vackert, men jag tycker till exempel att Hellblade II: Senua's Sacrifice utnyttjar protagonistens psykologi bättre för att lösa pussel.

<bild>Det finns flera befriande överraskande inslag.</bild>

Visuellt är Indika definitionen av en oslipad diamant. Texturerna är inte särskilt polerade och animationerna är en aning stela och klumpiga. Oroa dig inte heller för att bli snöblind, för den stämningsfulla och dynamiska ljussättning som vi så ofta ser i spel av den här generationen finns bara med i ytterst begränsad omfattning. Ändå vilar det en slags rå skönhet över de förfallna ryska provinsstäderna och de trista fabrikshallarna som du måste ta dig igenom. Till och med himlen är grå och trist, och den begränsade färgpaletten som för tankarna till Xbox 360/PS3-eran bidrar verkligen till stämningen. Detsamma gäller snön, det är inte den kritvita, rena sorten som vi känner igen från andra spel och som nästan skulle få dig stoppad på en flygplats. Nej, den är smutsig, tung och på flera ställen trampas den ner i lerig svart slask. Och jag älskar det.

Det är inte bara smuts, mörker och kyla. Längs vägen får vi uppleva en rad tillbakablickar på Indiskas barndom som utspelar sig som små retrospel med vacker och färgglad pixelgrafik. Även om minispelen är, ja, små, bryter de upp spelet på ett effektivt sätt, och detsamma kan sägas om ett segment där du får åka på någon slags futuristisk ångcykel. Den tråkiga presentationen livas också upp av pixliga poäng som du kontinuerligt tilldelas på din resa. Du kan spendera dem på ett komiskt färdighetsträd som absolut inte har någon effekt på spelets gameplay, vilket utvecklaren själv varnar för under en laddningsskärm. Jag kan dock avslöja att poängen - liksom nästan allt annat i spelet - har betydelse för spelets berättelse och teman.

<bild>Mer optimering hade verkligen varit önskvärt.</bild>

Berättelsen är Indiskas största styrka. Spelet tar "bara" tre till fyra timmar, men man får ändå en känsla av att ha varit med om en lång resa - man hinner uppleva så mycket på den korta tiden. Inledningsvis är det nästan som en mörk komedi när man möter odugliga soldater, berusade befälhavare och många andra färgstarka karaktärer. Du stöter också på den förrymde fången Ilya, som till slut följer med dig på din resa. Din andra reskamrat är dina egna tvivelaktiga tankar, som i Ilyas huvud manifesteras som djävulen själv. När ni närmar er destinationen är det dock som om ni gradvis krymper och plötsligt står ni inför monstruösa djur och kaviarlådor stora som oljefat. Stämningen är nu annorlunda dyster och du måste kämpa dig fram genom sorgliga, överväldigande fabriker som påminner om Inside och Limbo.

Det hela avslutas på ett stämningsfullt sätt, men det är resan och inte destinationen som är det viktiga. Du har som sagt sällskap av både fången Ilya och demonerna i dina tankar, och både den inre och den yttre dialogen är alldeles utmärkt. Trots att ämnena är tunga och filosofiska flyter dialogen naturligt och det finns gott om humor längs vägen. Samtidigt är det förvånansvärt spännande att följa den teologiska diskussionen, där religiösa dogmer ständigt utmanas av motargument hämtade ur ren logik eller den smutsiga verkligheten i det sorgliga ryska bondesamhället. Jag undrar om författarna har läst sin Dostojevskij? Ni kan höra allt på acceptabel brittiska, men gör er själva en tjänst och slå på de ryska rösterna i stället. Jag förstod inte ett ord, men mitt intryck är att röstskådespeleriet här är av högre kvalitet eftersom tonläget är bättre anpassat till vad som händer.

Som nämnts är Indika lite opolerat. Tekniskt sett laggar spelet, och till Playstation 5 är kameran ofta lite tung, och spelet vacklar definitivt när det gäller att hålla sig till 60 bilder per sekund. Kort sagt, den tekniska prestandan är helt enkelt inte tillräckligt bra. Men allt detta kan förlåtas, för med ganska enkla medel lyckas Odd Meter ändå bygga en sömlös spelupplevelse som underhåller längs vägen och lämnar dig med en tankeställare.

When It Makes Sense to Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt (and When It Doesn’t)

Source by Meredith Dietz

Even consolidated debt needs to be paid off as quickly as possible.

When you're dealing with multiple sources of outstanding debt, consolidating those debts into a single payment can seem like an attractive solution. Debt consolidation is the process of combining multiple credit card balances, or other types of debt, into a single new loan (or a single credit card) with a lower interest rate.

The goal of consolidation is to simplify your monthly payments and potentially save you money on interest charges. However, it's crucial to understand when consolidation makes sense and when it doesn't, as well as the steps involved in the process.

When debt consolidation could be a good idea

One of the biggest advantages of consolidating your debts is the simplicity it provides. Having to deal with a single monthly payment rather than keeping track of several different ones with varying due dates can make it much easier to stay organized and avoid missed or late payments. This increased convenience reduces stress and the likelihood of accumulating additional fees and penalties.

Here are some signs that debt consolidation is the right move for you:

  1. You have multiple credit card balances with high-interest rates, making it difficult to manage payments and pay down the principal.

  2. You have a good credit score, which can help you qualify for a lower interest rate on a consolidation loan or balance transfer credit card.

  3. You're committed to changing your spending habits and avoiding accruing new debt while paying off the consolidated balance.

When debt consolidation is not the right move

Debt consolidation sounds like a tempting opportunity, but it’s not perfect. In more cases than not, debt consolidation loans don’t make sense. Your average five-year (60-month) debt consolidation loan, even at a lower interest rate than your credit card, may cost more over the long haul than if you just paid your cards down faster.

If these are your reasons for debt consolidation, think twice before acting:

  1. You have a low credit score, which could result in higher interest rates on consolidation loans, negating potential savings.

  2. You're consolidating debt to free up room on your credit card limits, with the intention of accruing more debt.

  3. You're struggling with overspending habits, as consolidation alone won't address the root cause of your debt accumulation.

Steps to consolidate your debt

If you've decided that debt consolidation is the right choice for your financial situation, here are some tips to help you make the most of it:

  1. Shop around for the best rates and terms: Don't settle for the first consolidation loan or balance transfer credit card offer you receive. Compare interest rates, fees, and repayment terms from multiple lenders to find the most favorable option. Even a slight difference in the interest rate can result in significant savings over the life of the loan.

  2. Create a realistic repayment plan: Once you've consolidated your debt, create a detailed repayment plan that fits your budget. Aim to pay more than the minimum payment each month to accelerate the repayment process and save on interest charges. Consider setting up automatic payments to ensure you never miss a due date.

  3. Cut unnecessary expenses: With your debt consolidated into a single payment, take advantage of the opportunity to free up cash flow by reducing unnecessary expenses. Review your budget and identify areas where you can trim costs, such as dining out less, canceling subscriptions you don't use, or negotiating lower rates for services like cable or insurance.

  4. Avoid accruing new debt: Consolidating your debt won't provide long-term relief if you continue to accumulate new debt. Change your spending habits and avoid using credit cards or taking on new loans while you're paying off your consolidated debt.

  5. Monitor your progress: Regularly review your consolidated debt balance and track your progress towards becoming debt-free. Celebrate small victories along the way, such as paying off a certain percentage of the debt or reaching a specific milestone.

  6. Consider debt counseling or financial education: If you're struggling with overspending habits or managing your finances, consider seeking help from a non-profit credit counseling agency or taking a financial education course. These resources can provide valuable guidance and help you develop healthy money management skills.

  7. Stay motivated: Paying off debt can be a long and challenging process, but it's important to stay motivated and focused on your goal. Remind yourself of the benefits of being debt-free, such as reduced stress, improved credit score, and more financial freedom.

Consolidated debt is still debt

One of the biggest problems with debt consolidation loans is that they do nothing to change the behaviors that got you into debt in the first place. Instead, they add another creditor to your pile, as you're essentially going into debt to pay off your debt.

While consolidating your debt can provide relief and make repayment more manageable, it's essential to approach it with caution. The sense of accomplishment you may feel after consolidating your debt could lead to a false sense of security, causing you to ease up on your debt repayment efforts. Think about it like this: Debt consolidation loans are financial products, which means financial institutions wouldn’t offer them to you if they didn’t make money from them.

Remember, consolidated debt is still debt that needs to be paid off as quickly as possible. Failing to maintain a disciplined approach to repayment could result in accumulating new debt on top of your consolidated balance, ultimately leaving you in a worse financial situation. The last thing you want is to take out a loan, pay off your cards, and then charge up your cards again while you're still paying off the loan. That does nothing but dig your hole twice as deep.

Consolidation should be a stepping stone, not a destination. Use the opportunity to develop better financial habits, such as creating a budget, cutting unnecessary expenses, and avoiding accruing new debt. Ultimately, the goal should be to become debt-free, not just to reorganize your debt.

The bottom line

In most cases, debt consolidation shouldn't be necessary. Still, debt consolidation makes sense if you can save money over the long term by securing a better interest rate, or if streamlining will make the difference between paying your bills on time and accruing late fees and penalties.

The key is making sure consolidation is part of a larger plan to get yourself out of debt. Consolidating debts into a single loan may simplify things, but it's not a solution to underlying financial struggles.

iOS 18's Best New Battery Feature Is Only for iPhone 15

Source by Khamosh Pathak

Limiting charging can be a boon for an iPhone's battery health.

Now that the iOS 18 developer beta is out in the wild, we've learned about some new and interesting features that Apple failed to mention in its WWDC keynote announcements. One of these is expanded charging limit options, and though it might sound counterintuitive, these can really help your iPhone in the long run.

New charging limits for iPhone 15 models

Apple is expanding the charging limit options on all iPhone 15 models. Sadly, the new options aren't available on older devices.

Users can now choose to stop their iPhone from charging when it reaches either 80%, 85%, 90%, and 95% charge. Previously, options were limited to 80% or "Optimized Battery Charging," which charges based on your habits. Of course, you can also keep charging limits off.

If you're wondering why you'd want to use this, it's because limiting a device's maximum charge is a common way to increase its battery's longevity. It's something that Mac users have done for years, using third-party tools like Battery Toolkit. Limiting the charging to 80% can really help increase your battery's health, but it also decreases how much battery life you'll have in a single go. Perhaps a 90% charging limit strikes a better balance.

According to a Reddit post, users who do limit charging will also be able to enable 100% charging temporarily, which will help when you're out traveling or when you have a full, busy day ahead of you.

According to MacRumors, Apple will also send notifications to users, urging them to enable the charging limits feature, which should help with its adoption.

iPhone 15 users will find this feature in Settings > Battery > Charging.

Is your fast charger actually fast?

The Battery page's charging graph is also getting more useful. Apple will now differentiate low charging with an orange color, while regular/fast charging is shown in green.

This feature can be a good way to find out if a Qi wireless charger is performing well, or if an older MagSafe charger is actually charging your iPhone at 15W, as promised. Sometimes, third-party adapters and wireless chargers aren't everything they've been cracked up to be.

Is It Safe to Use a Third-Party iPhone App Store?

Source by Joshua Hawkins

Apple finally caved on third-party app stores in Europe... but was it worth it?

It’s been almost four months since Europe’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) forced Apple to start allowing third-party app stores on European iPhones. While the DMA hasn’t quite helped make these alternative app stores available everywhere, they are a step towards a more open ecosystem. But what exactly do these alternative app stores offer? What led to the DMA and why aren’t we seeing more alternative app stores already? Here’s what you need to know.

How we got here

All of this started when the European Union decided to investigate Apple, Meta, and tons of other big tech companies (including Google) for gatekeeping various aspects of their app stores and data usage. For Apple, a lot of it came down to the controversy that companies like Epic Games helped rile up following the removal of Fortnite from the App Store in 2020. For others, it was down to more particular issues. But let’s focus on Apple for now.

The European Union wanted to figure out if Apple was locking down certain parts of its services—like access to user devices through the App Store and even iMessage—for legitimate reasons. One of the most important reasons that Apple kept citing was “user safety and privacy,” but ultimately, that wasn’t enough for the EU.

While the EU didn’t rule in favor of forcing Apple to put iMessage on other devices, it did say that Apple needed to back off and start letting companies distribute apps through third-party app stores and even the web, albeit with some caveats. This led to some big changes in how Apple handles things, but only in the EU. We saw DMA-forced features coming to iOS in the EU as early as iOS 17.4, including the option to sideload apps directly into iOS.

This ultimately means that developers don’t have to rely on going through the strict process of putting their apps on the official Apple App Store in order for it to be available on iPhone—at least for EU users. Anyone outside of the EU will still have to download apps through the official App Store, and there's no guarantee that will change anytime soon.

This is potentially good news for indie developers, as Apple takes a set percentage of all the purchases made from in-app purchases when an app is downloaded from the App Store. Theoretically, being able to have their app in a third-party store—or even available through side-loading—gives them a way to bypass that cut and keep more of profits. This was a major part of Epic Games’ argument during the whole Apple vs Epic fiasco a few years ago, although Epic hasn't been happy with Apple's method of implementing third-party app stores, which still comes with hidden fees.

Are these third-party app stores worth checking out?

This is the real crux of the situation here. While we continue to see new alternate app stores released, including a new one that just launched this month, many of them don’t have a lot of apps yet. And, as I’ve mentioned several times already, they aren’t available to anyone outside of the EU—so the user base is already scaled down a lot from the overall number of iPhone users in the world.

Additionally, most of the alternate app stores released thus far aren't exceptionally diverse in terms of what they have to offer. One recently released store, Aptoide, offers a freemium-type structure. But it only carries games, and at the time of writing, it has less than 10 basic games on the service. Other popular options, like Altstore, offer far more apps, including the option for anyone to release apps through unique URL "sources." But, that "anyone can release anything" openness also makes it a bit of a breeding ground for possible bad actors to try to find a way in.

There's also the fact that Apple has a bit of a high buy-in for developers that want to launch a third-party app store, and many of those are pushing that charge over onto their customers through monthly subscription charges. This is the basis of MacPaw's Setapp Mobile, which is still in beta (and is slightly different from the existing Setapp service). It is one of the more highly anticipated options out there, but not everyone is going to be willing to pay a monthly subscription when they can just download things from Apple's official App Store for free.

Of course, other app stores are expected to launch in the future. We know that Epic Games is working on a new Epic Games Store app, which it will use to release games and other apps, including Fortnite. But we don't have a lot of details about how it will work, or when it will be available.

Ultimately, we're still really early in the timeline to determine the usefulness of these app stores. There's still a lot of room for them to grow, and while they might not seem all that worthwhile right now, that could change exponentially in the future as more third-party stores become available, and as already established stores find their preferred methods.

Are alternate app stores safe?

Another thing to keep in mind is the safety standards surrounding these app stores. Anyone who tries to install an alternate app store will find that Apple has made it exceptionally annoying to install these third-party marketplaces, with your device often requiring you to go through multiple confirmation pages before it actually installs. That makes sure you know what you're getting into—third-party apps bypass all of the "safety" guidelines that Apple has in place within the App Store—but it also means the experience is extremely off-putting.

It’s an intentional move by Apple that some may take as a scare tactic to push users away from utilizing third-party app stores. It could also just be taken as Apple doing its due diligence to warn the general public, who might not be as tech-savvy about the dangers of side-loaded or third-party apps.

And there is legitimate danger here. We already see plenty of corrupted and malware-ridden apps making their way through the App Store's strict requirements, and there's no guarantee of how safe any of these third-party stores are, making it exceptionally important to research each one before you install it.

That doesn't necessarily make these alternative app stores unsafe, but like anything, you need to be careful what you download and what kind of access you give these apps. Also, pay attention to the permissions that apps require (even ones downloaded from the official App Store), and if an app store doesn't offer any information on that, try to do your own research to see just how trustworthy an app is before blindly downloading it.

A Brief History of AI

Source by Jake Peterson

It's difficult to pick up a phone or laptop today without seeing some type of AI feature, but that's only because of working going back nearly one hundred years.

This post is part of Lifehacker’s “Living With AI” series: We investigate the current state of AI, walk through how it can be useful (and how it can’t), and evaluate where this revolutionary tech is heading next. Read more here.

You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking AI really kicked off in the past couple years. But AI has been a long time in the making, including most of the 20th century. It's difficult to pick up a phone or laptop today without seeing some type of AI feature, but that's only because of working going back nearly one hundred years.

AI’s conceptual beginnings

Of course, people have been wondering if we could make machines that think for as long as we’ve had machines. The modern concept came from Alan Turing, a renowned mathematician well known for his work in deciphering Nazi Germany’s “unbreakable” code produced by their Enigma machine during World War II. As the New York Times highlights, Turing essentially predicted what the computer could—and would—become, imagining it as “one machine for all possible tasks.”

But it was what Turing wrote in “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” that changed things forever: The computer scientist posed the question, “Can machines think?” but also argued this framing was the wrong approach to take. Instead, he proposed a thought-experiment called “The Imitation Game.” Imagine you have three people: a man (A), a woman (B), and an interrogator, separated into three rooms. The interrogator’s goal is to determine which player is the man and which is the woman using only text-based communication. If both players were truthful in their answers, it’s not such a difficult task. But if one or both decides to lie, it becomes much more challenging.

But the point of the Imitation Game isn’t to test a human’s deduction ability. Rather, Turing asks you to imagine a machine taking the place of player A or B. Could the machine effectively trick the interrogator into thinking it was human?

Kick-starting the idea of neural networks

Turing was the most influential spark for the concept of AI, but it was Frank Rosenblatt who actually kick-started the technology’s practice, even if he never saw it come to fruition. Rosenblatt created the “Perceptron,” a computer modeled after how neurons work in the brain, with the ability to teach itself new skills. The computer has a single layer neural network, and it works like this: You have the machine make a prediction about something—say, whether a punch card is marked on the left or the right. If the computer is wrong, it adjusts to be more accurate. Over thousands or even millions of attempts, it “learns” the right answers instead of having to predict them.

That design is based on neurons: You have an input, such as a piece of information you want the computer to recognize. The neuron takes the data and, based on its previous knowledge, produces a corresponding output. If that output is wrong, you tell the computer, and adjust the “weight” of the neuron to produce an outcome you hope is closer to the desired output. Over time, you find the right weight, and the computer will have successfully “learned.”

Unfortunately, despite some promising attempts, the Perceptron simply couldn’t follow through on Rosenblatt’s theories and claims, and interest in both it and the practice of artificial intelligence dried up. As we know today, however, Rosenblatt wasn’t wrong: His machine was just too simple. The perceptron’s neural network had only one layer, which isn’t enough to enable machine learning on any meaningful level.

Many layers makes machine learning work

That’s what Geoffrey Hinton discovered in the 1980s: Where Turing posited the idea, and Rosenblatt created the first machines, Hinton pushed AI into its current iteration by theorizing that nature had cracked neural network-based AI already in the human brain. He and other researchers, like Yann LeCun and Yoshua Bengio, proved that neural networks built upon multiple layers and a huge number of connections can enable machine learning.

Through the 1990s and 2000s, researchers would slowly prove neural networks’ potential. LeCun, for example, created a neural net that could recognize handwritten characters. But it was still slow going: While the theories were right on the money, computers weren’t powerful enough to handle the amount of data necessary to see AI’s full potential. Moore’s Law finds a way, of course, and around 2012, both hardware and data sets had advanced to the point that machine learning took off: Suddenly, researchers could train neural nets to do things they never could before, and we started to see AI in action in everything from smart assistants to self-driving cars.

And then, in late 2022, ChatGPT blew up, showing both professionals, enthusiasts, and the general public what AI could really do, and we’ve been on a wild ride ever since. We don’t know what the future of AI actually has in store: All we can do is look at how far the tech has come, what we can do with it now, and imagine where we go from here.

Living with AI

To that end, take a look through our collection of articles all about living with AI. We define AI terms you need to know, walk you through building AI tools without needing to know how to code, talk about how to use AI responsibly for work, and discuss the ethics of generating AI art.

The Existential Terror of Battle Royale

Source by Jeff Atwood

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post, I guess in general, but also a blog post about video games. Video games are probably the single thing most attributable to my career as a programmer, and everything else I've done professionally after that. I

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post, I guess in general, but also a blog post about video games. Video games are probably the single thing most attributable to my career as a programmer, and everything else I've done professionally after that. I still feel video games are one of the best ways to learn and teach programming, if properly scoped, and furthermore I take many cues from video games in building software.

I would characterize my state of mind for the last six to eight months as … poor. Not only because of current events in the United States, though the neverending barrage of bad news weighs heavily on me, and I continue to be profoundly disturbed by the erosion of core values that I thought most of us stood for as Americans. Didn't we used to look out for each other, care about each other, and fight to protect those that can't protect themselves?

In times like these, I sometimes turn to video games for escapist entertainment. One game in particular caught my attention because of its meteoric rise in player count over the last year.

pubg-steam-stats-nov-2017

That game is Player Unknown's Battlegrounds. I was increasingly curious why it was so popular, and kept getting more popular every month. Calling it a mere phenomenon seems like underselling it; something truly unprecedented is happening here. I finally broke down and bought a copy for $30 in September.

player-unknown-battleground

After a few hours in, I had major flashbacks to the first time I played Counter-Strike in 1998. I realized that we are witnessing the birth of an entirely new genre of game: the Battle Royale. I absolutely believe that huge numbers of people will still be playing some form of this game 20 years from now, too.

steam-top-games-by-player-count-nov-2017

I've seen the Japanese movie, and it's true that there were a few Battle Royale games before PUBG, but this is clearly the defining moment and game for the genre, the one that sets a precedent for everyone else to follow.

It's hard to explain why Battlegrounds is so compelling, but let's start with the loneliness.

Although you can play in squads (and I recommend it), the purest original form of the game is 100 players, last man standing. You begin with nothing but the clothes on your back, in a cargo aircraft, flying over an unknown island in a random trajectory.

battlegrounds-cargo-plane

It's up to you to decide when to drop, and where to land on this huge island, full of incredibly detailed cities, buildings and houses – but strangely devoid of all life.

playerunknown-battleground-drop

What happened to everyone? Where did they go? The sense of apocalypse is overwhelming. It's you versus the world, but where did the rest of the world go? You'll wander this vast deserted island, scavenging for weapons and armor in near complete silence. You'll hear nothing but the wind blowing and the occasional buzzing of flies. But then, suddenly the jarring pak-pak-pak of gunfire off in the distance, reminding you that other people are here. And they aren't your friends.

battle-royale-vista

the dread of never knowing when another of the 100 players on this enormous island is going to suddenly appear around a corner or over a hill is intense. You'll find yourself wearing headphones, cranking the volume, constantly on edge listening for the implied threat of footfalls. Wait, did I hear someone just now, or was that me? You clench, and wait. I've had so many visceral panic moments playing this game, to the point that I had to stop playing just to calm down.

pubg-combat

PUBG is, in its way, the scariest zombie movie I've ever seen, though it lacks a single zombie. It dispenses with the pretense of a story, so you can realize much sooner that the zombies, as terrible as they may be, are nowhere as dangerous to you as your fellow man.

Meanwile, that huge cargo airplane still roars overhead every so often, impassive, indifferent, occasionally dropping supply crates with high powered items to fight over. Airstrikes randomly target areas circled in red on the map, masking footfalls, and forcing movement while raining arbitrary death and terror.

pubg-map

Although the island is huge and you can land anywhere, after a few minutes a random circle is overlaid on the map, and a slowly moving wall of deadly energy starts closing in on that circle. Stay outside that circle at your peril; if you find yourself far on the opposite side of the map from a circle, you better start hunting for a vehicle or boat (they're present, but rare) quickly. These terrordome areas are always shrinking, always impending, in an ever narrowing cone, forcing the remaining survivors closer and closer together. The circles get tighter and deadlier and quicker as the game progresses, ratcheting up the tension and conflict.

Eventually the circle becomes so small that it's impossible for the handful of remaining survivors to avoid contact, and one person, one out of the hundred that originally dropped out of the cargo plane, emerges as the winner. I've never won solo, but I have won squad, and even finishing first out of 25 squads is an unreal, euphoric experience. The odds are so incredibly against you from the outset, plus you quickly discover that 85% of the game is straight up chance: someone happens to roll up behind you, a sniper gets the drop on you, or you get caught in the open with few options. Wrong place, wrong time, game over. Sucks to be you.

pubg-vehicle-shooting

You definitely learn to be careful, but there's only so careful you can be. Death comes quickly, without warning, and often at random. What else can you expect from a game mode where there are 100 players but only 1 eventual winner?

There haven't been many Battle Royale games, so this game mode is a relatively new phenomenon. If you'd like to give it a try for free, I highly recommend Fortnite's Battle Royale mode which is 100% free, a near-clone of PUBG, and quite good in its own right. They added their Battle Royale mode well after the fact; the core single player "save the world" gameplay of building stuff and fighting zombie hordes is quite fun too, though a bit shallow. It also has what is, in my opinion, some of the most outstanding visual style I've ever seen in a game – a cool, hyperbolic cartoon mix of Chuck Jones, Sam & Max, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It's also delightfully diverse in its character models.

fortnite-battle-royale

(The only things you'll give up over PUBG are the realistic art style, vehicles, and going prone. But the superb structure building system in Fortnite almost makes up for that. If nothing else it is a demonstration of how incredibly compelling the Battle Royale game mode is, because that part of the game is wildly successful in a a way that the core game, uh, wasn't. Also it's free!)

I didn't intend for this to happen, but to me, the Battle Royale game mode perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the current moment, and matches my current state of mind to a disturbing degree. It's an absolutely terrifying experience of every human for themselves, winner takes all, with impossible odds. There are moments it can be thrilling, even inspiring, but mostly it's brutal and unforgiving. To succeed you need to be exceedingly cautious, highly skilled, and just plain lucky. Roll the dice again, but know that everyone will run towards the sound of gunfire in hopes of picking off survivors and looting their corpses. Including you.

Battle Royale is not the game mode we wanted, it's not the game mode we needed, it's the game mode we all deserve. And the best part is, when we're done playing, we can turn it off.

When Is a Target-Date Fund the Best Choice?

Source by Meredith Dietz

For most investors, they're a convenient choice, but an imperfect one.

Target-date funds have become an increasingly popular investment choice, especially for retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs. Their main appeal lies in their simplicity and hands-off approach to managing your retirement portfolio. These funds are not a perfect solution, however—and it's essential to understand their pros and cons before deciding if they align with your investment goals and risk tolerance.

How target-date funds work

Target-date funds are designed to provide a diversified and professionally managed portfolio that automatically adjusts its asset allocation over time. The "target date" in the fund's name refers to the approximate year when an investor plans to retire. The fund starts with a more aggressive asset allocation, heavily weighted towards stocks, and gradually becomes more conservative by increasing its bond allocation as the target date approaches.

The pros: convenience and automatic rebalancing

One of the primary advantages of target-date funds is their convenience. These funds essentially put your retirement portfolio on autopilot, eliminating the need for constant monitoring and rebalancing. As you get closer to retirement, the fund automatically shifts its asset allocation to become more conservative, reducing your overall risk exposure.

Additionally, target-date funds offer diversification across various asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and sometimes alternative investments like real estate or commodities. This built-in diversification can help mitigate risk and volatility.

The cons: lack of customization and potential misalignment

While the convenience of target-date funds is appealing, it comes at the cost of flexibility and customization. These funds follow a predetermined asset allocation glide path, which may not align perfectly with your individual risk tolerance, investment objectives, or retirement timeline.

Furthermore, target-date funds often have higher fees compared to individual index funds or ETFs, as you're paying for the professional management and automatic rebalancing.

Another potential drawback is the lack of transparency regarding the fund's underlying holdings. Some target-date funds may invest in actively managed funds or employ complex strategies, which can make it challenging to understand and evaluate the fund's true risk exposure.

Are target-date funds right for you?

Target-date funds can be an excellent choice for investors who value simplicity and prefer a hands-off approach to managing their retirement portfolio. They can also be a good starting point for those new to investing or those who lack the time or expertise to actively manage their investments.

However, investors with more complex financial situations, specific investment preferences, or a desire for greater control over their portfolio may find target-date funds too restrictive. In such cases, building a diversified portfolio using individual index funds or ETFs and periodically rebalancing it may be a better option.

Ultimately, the decision to invest in a target-date fund should be based on a thorough understanding of your financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment knowledge. It's essential to carefully review the fund's prospectus, underlying holdings, and fees before making a decision.

Remember, target-date funds are not a one-size-fits-all solution, and their suitability depends on your individual circumstances. If you're unsure, consulting a qualified financial advisor can help you determine the best investment strategy for your retirement planning.

Animal Well

Source

Jag är verkligt svag för genremixar, särskilt om jag på förhand inte förväntat mig att bli inkastad i en blandning av genrer, manér och vinjetter som vanligtvis kanske inte brukar röras ihop. Jag minns naturligtvis hur extremförtjust jag var i The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay när det stod klart att svenska studion Starbreeze blandat första persons-action med stealth med uppenbara rollspelsmoment och skapat vad som fortfarande står sig som det bästa svenska spelet genom alla tider. Djurbrunnen signerat indieutvecklaren Billy Basso är inte svenskt. Det har heller absolut ingenting med Riddick eller rollspel att göra, men det är en ganska unik genremix som jag nu inte riktigt kan begripa att ingen kommit på tidigare.

Animal Well är på förhand ett rätt typiskt Metroidvania, dränkt i pixelbaserad atmosfär och med mängder av precisionskrävande hopp, men det är också ett spel fyllt av spännande utforskande och det är även ett väldigt bra pusselspel. Alla dessa olika upplägg blandas på ett vis som gör att uppenbara blinkningar mot Castlevania, Metroid och Braid känns charmiga på ett vis som jag på förhand inte hade förväntat mig.
<bild></bild>
<bild>8-bitarsgrafiken innehåller ett förvånande härligt djup som Basso åstadkommit genom att nyttja ljus och skuggor på ett riktigt finurligt vis.</bild>
I Animal Well axlar du rollen som världens bästa utforskare som i det här spelet är en namnlös, formlös liten gegghög. Ditt jobb är här att utforska drösvis med underjordiska grottor och i dessa grottor måste du hoppa, klättra, svinga och slunga dig dig över alla möjliga hinder och lösa mängder av mekaniskt finurliga plattformspussel för att kunna undvika alla de djur som lurar i underjorden och nå det förvånande, överraskande slutet. Vägen dit är ombytlig och varierad och det finns i stort sett ingen del av det här ljuvliga lilla äventyret som inte kastar saker mot mig som spelare som jag hade förväntat mig. Jag förstår verkligen att utvecklingen har tagit närmare sju års (!), dels eftersom indiegubben Billy Basso (som utgör enmansstudion Shared Memory) inte haft någon egentlig hjälp med någon del av spelet men också eftersom det verkligen märks att varje liten miljöportion, varje pussel och varje fiendemöte designats med omsorg, tanke och superb fingertoppskänsla.

Den kanske bästa delen utöver charmen i designen och blandningen av speltyper och manér är utan tvekan spelkontrollen och dess mekanik, där Basso vid flera tillfällen pratat i diverse utvecklarvideos om hur han skapat sin egen spelmotor just för att kunna korta ned mängden input lag mellan det som trycks in i form av knappkommandon och det som faktiskt sker på skärmen, och det märks. Tydligt. Sällan har jag spelat ett 2D-spel innehållande tusentals precisionshopp som upplevs så exakt och innehåller så mycket precision som Animal Well gör, vilket suddar bort all förväntad frustration när jag råkar missa en avsats, eller en av de många bubblor som jag blåser upp för att sen kunna använda som avsats.
<bild></bild>
<bild>Svårt är det men på helt rätt sätt, mycket tack vare lysande design och fantastisk mekanik med minimal mängd input lag i precisionshoppandet.</bild>
Grafiken är superläcker också, på helt rätt sätt. Pixlarna är av 8-bitars-size och färgsättningen är mörk med fokus på dova lila-toner och massa mörkgröna detaljer, som jag verkligen gillar. Det enda jag kanske inte riktigt gillar är avsaknaden av musik. Initialt bygger det atmosfär, inte minst eftersom miljöljuden är strålande i sin utformning, men efter några timmar börjar det verkligen märkas att det här spelet skulle må bra av mer atmosfärisk musik, under längre perioder. Minus det har jag inga klagomål på denna härliga indiepärla.

TikTok Myth of the Week: Raw Milk Is Good For You

Source by Beth Skwarecki

People, no! We invented pasteurization for a reason!

Raw milk is natural and brings you closer to the earth. It is also a great way to get sick. And best of all, it’s now a faux health hack/political football, thrown into the limelight by recent reports on bird flu. That’s right, the TikTokers are drinking raw milk out of spite—or maybe just for the affiliate marketing deals. I’ll explain. 

What is raw milk? 

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. The regular milk you buy in the grocery store is pasteurized as a basic safety measure. The milk is heated to kill bacteria; there are different ways of doing it, but the most common is to hold the milk at 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds, then rapidly cool it. 

Before pasteurization was widespread, milk was frequently a carrier of disease-causing organisms, including tuberculosis, Salmonella, diphtheria, and diarrheal disease. Pasteurization is required by federal law if milk is sold across state lines, and state law requires pasteurization of most or all milk in a given state. 

Raw milk is legal in some states, although laws vary. In some, it can be sold at stores; in others, only as direct sales from farms, or only if it is labeled as pet milk, or only if you buy into a cow-share, because then you technically “own” the cow. In many states all of these are illegal.

So raw milk is a niche product, favored by some cheesemakers and some people who believe that “natural” everything is better. The FDA has counted 143 disease outbreaks linked to raw milk since 1987. Besides the illnesses mentioned above, raw milk can also carry Listeria (which can result in stillbirth if a pregnant person contracts it), and E. coli in a form that can pass from person to person after someone contracts it from drinking raw milk. 

Why is everybody talking about raw milk? 

Two things happened recently to put raw milk on the public radar. One is that there is a bird flu virus that has been going around, and it’s infecting cows as well as birds. RNA from the virus has been found in samples of grocery store milk. It’s not yet 100% clear whether pasteurization kills the virus, but people don’t seem to be getting bird flu from milk—so it’s likely that pasteurization is providing some protection. 

This news about bird flu has led to the FDA and CDC emphasizing their already-existing messaging about why it’s a bad idea to drink (or sell) raw milk, especially to vulnerable populations like children and people who may be pregnant (since raw milk can carry Listeria, among other things).

And whenever there is a simple, clear public health message, there will always be people who object to it on principle. The government is trying to take away your natural pure, (bacteria-laden) raw milk! It’s time to fight back! At least one conservative group has been selling “got raw milk?” shirts

The second news item feeding into this trend is that Louisiana’s state legislature has been debating a bill, recently passed, that would legalize sales of raw milk so long as it is labeled “not for human consumption.” People want their raw milk, germs and all.

What are the TikTokers saying about raw milk? 

As you might expect: anything that gets engagement. Often the talking points are that it is more “digestible,” contains beneficial bacteria, or that pasteurization kills the “vitamins and nutrients” in milk. 

None of this is supported by scientific consensus. Pasteurized milk has the same nutritional content as raw milk; everything is still in there, it’s just been heated. No nutrients have been removed, and you can’t “kill” vitamins or minerals. 

Beneficial bacteria can be killed by pasteurization, but killing bacteria is kind of the whole point, remember? There’s no procedure that only kills “bad” bacteria while leaving the good ones; it’s all-or-nothing. If you want probiotics in your diet, you’re best off drinking pasteurized milk and taking probiotic pills, yogurt, or other probiotic-containing foods separately. (Probiotic yogurt is made by adding known “good” bacteria to pasteurized milk.) 

They’re selling something, of course

The TikTokers are also, of course, affiliate marketing up a storm. One of the top #rawmilk videos recommended to me was of a man repeating the above claims, telling you that government and Big Pharma don’t want you to know about raw milk, and endorsing a specific farm. 

He said that he’s sure milk from this farm is safe, because they test it. So I visited the farm’s website. They mention in several places that their milk is tested for “pathogens,” but I couldn’t find any explanation of which pathogens they test for, or how. I did find the page where influencers can sign up for their affiliate program, which pays cash to a select few. Gwyneth Paltrow has publicly name-dropped the same farm, so she might be on the list. (California, where this farm is based, is one of the states that allows retail sales of raw milk.) 

So I should drink raw milk, right? 

Please do not. As the FDA points out, all the major TikTok talking points are wrong. To name a few: the enzymes in raw milk do not aid in digestibility, the bacteria found in raw milk are not the kind that is good for our digestive system, raw milk is not more nutritious, and testing programs “might help to reduce the probability of raw milk contamination but they will not ensure that raw milk is pathogen-free.” 

iOS 18 Can Help Reduce Your Motion Sickness in Cars

Source by Pranay Parab

Vehicle Motion Cues puts animated dots on your iPhone's screen to reduce motion sickness.

When you're a passenger in a moving vehicle, you might spend all your time looking at a screen. Some people watch movies, some are on social media, and there are even those who study or work. Unfortunately, motion sickness prevents a significant number of people from doing any of these things. If you're among those who can't look at a screen for more than a few minutes while riding a car, then check out this iOS 18 feature that allows you to reduce motion sickness when you're using your iPhone.

How Vehicle Motion Cues works

A screenshot of Apple's Vehicle Motion Cues feature on an iPhone.
Credit: Apple

Different people experience motion sickness differently, which means that this solution may not work for everyone. I cannot look at screens or read a book when I'm a passenger in any road vehicle, for example. However, I'm able to read or watch movies just fine when I'm on trains. For some people, this problem is far more severe, where they can't be in any moving vehicle without medication.

People who suffer from motion sickness usually experience a sensory conflict where there's a difference between what their eyes see and what the brain perceives. Motion sickness is often triggered when one stares at a stable object while in a moving vehicle, as one would do with a gaming console, a paper book, or a smartphone. Vehicle Motion Cues uses animated dots to reduce that sensory conflict, Apple says. The position of these dots changes based on the vehicle's motion, which means that the dots would move from the left to the right if your vehicle turns left. The dots will keep moving on screen, which may be a bit annoying, but if it reduces motion sickness, it could all be worth it for some.

Don't install beta software on your primary iPhone

This is an iOS 18 feature, which means you'll need to install the operating system on your iPhone first. At the time of writing, iOS 18 is in beta and you should avoid installing it on your primary iPhone. But if you have a backup iPhone (maybe an old model you didn't trade in), you're in the clear. Remember that installing beta operating systems on your primary devices can lead to bricked iPhones or situations where your favorite apps keep crashing.

How to reduce motion sickness on your iPhone

A screenshot of the Control Center customization options in iOS 18.
Credit: Pranay Parab

Assuming you do have an iPhone that's running iOS 18, go to Settings > Accessibility > Motion and enable Show Vehicle Motion Cues. This will set your iPhone to automatically enable or disable Vehicle Motion Cues when your phone detects that they're appropriate. They will go away if your iPhone detects that you're not in a moving vehicle. At the moment, it's unclear if iOS 18 can tell the difference between a car and a train, but based on what Apple's said, it's optimized for use in cars and other road vehicles.

You can also add this feature to your iPhone's Control Center for more manual control. First, swipe downwards from the top-right corner of your iPhone's screen to open Control Center. Tap the + button in the top-left corner, then the Add a Control button at the bottom. Search for Vehicle Motion Cues in the search box. Select Vehicle Motion Cues and you're all set. Note that enabling or disabling Vehicle Motion Cues via Control Center will not automatically trigger this feature. If this feature reduces motion sickness for you, then you can keep it in the Control Center and enable or disable it as and when you need it.

The Rise of the Electric Scooter

Source by Jeff Atwood

In an electric car, the (enormous) battery is a major part of the price. If electric car prices are decreasing, battery costs must be decreasing, because it's not like the cost of fabricating rubber, aluminum, glass, and steel into car shapes can decline that much, right?

ev-battery-costs

On an

In an electric car, the (enormous) battery is a major part of the price. If electric car prices are decreasing, battery costs must be decreasing, because it's not like the cost of fabricating rubber, aluminum, glass, and steel into car shapes can decline that much, right?

ev-battery-costs

On an electric scooter, though, the effect of battery price has to be even more dramatic because scooters are such lightweight, compact, and simple machines. They aren't much more than a battery and an electric motor to begin with. Remember the the Zappy electric scooter from twenty years ago?

zappy-electric-scooter-year-2000

What killed the electric scooter back then is the same thing that killed the electric car of year 2000: terrible lead-acid battery technology. It's too heavy, it lacks power, it doesn't have enough range, it takes too long to charge. These are all different ways of saying the same thing: the battery sucks. It wasn't until Lithium Ion batteries matured that both the electric car and the electric scooter — and pretty much electric everything, if you think about it — became viable.

Thus, one way to see if Lithium Ion battery prices are indeed generally dropping independent of all other manufacturing concerns is to examine the cost of electric scooters over the last few years. Let's consider one of the most popular models, the Xiaomi Mi M365:

xiaomi-mi-m365-price-history-2018-2019

This graph only shows roughly two years, from January 2018 to now; it looks like the original price for the Xiaomi M365 when it hit the US market in early 2017 was around $800. So the price of a popular, common electric scooter has halved in three years. Very good news indeed for electric vehicles of all types!

This dramatic drop in electric scooter price from 2016 to 2019 may not be surprising versus the parallel rise of the quasi-legal electric scooter smartphone app rental industry over roughly the same time period, in the form of Bird, Lime, Skip, Spin, Scoot, etc.

electric-scooter-rentals-bird-lime

Early versions of Bird scooters were actual Xiaomi M365s, slightly modified for rental. Only by late 2018 had they migrated to custom built, ruggedized scooters optimized for the rental market. The rental industries have their own challenges, and ironically have started to pivot to monthly rentals rather than the classic 15 cents per minute.

Bird has experimented with its business model in recent months. In early March, the company altered its repair program in Los Angeles, which had relied on gig workers to fix broken scooters. It moved repairs in-house (though scooters are still charged each night by an army of gig workers). Later that month, the company introduced scooters with locks in some markets, in a bid to prevent theft and vandalism.

In April, it announced the launch of a more traditional rental program in San Francisco and Barcelona, in which users could pay $25 per month to rent a Xiaomi m365 from the company rather than paying per ride.

But this isn't meant to be a blog entry about the viability of scooter rental company business models.

I want to tackle a more fundamental question: are electric scooters the future of transportation?

Even Uber, as screwed up of a company as they still are, knows cars are overkill for a lot of basic transportation needs:

We have plenty of scooters here at my house, and the family and I enjoy them greatly, but I have never actually ridden or owned an electric scooter. So I bought one. It is of course the popular, inexpensive, and well reviewed Xiaomi Mi M365.

m365-scooter

Here's a picture of my electric scooter inside my electric car. (I apologize that I didn't have an electric bicycle to park next to it for maximum smugness, but you can bet your sweet electrons I'll work on that next!)

electric-scooter-in-electric-car

The short version of my review is this electric scooter is incredibly fun, works great, and if you can get it for a price around $300, practically a no-brainer. I love it, my kids love it, and as long as you're conceptually OK with the look, unlike Elon Musk 🛴💨 then you'll probably love it too.

I found a neat video covering the "one year later" experience of owning the scooter, and what you might eventually run into or want to tweak.

(The main thing to take away from this video is that flats super suck on tires this small, so be warned. I put Slime in my Mi's tires out of an abundance of caution, but you could also go with solid tubeless tires – at the cost of some ride comfort – if you're really worried.)

That's not to say that the electric scooter experience is perfect. There are some challenges with electric scooters, starting with the biggest one: your local government has no idea how to regulate the darn things.

  • Is this regulated like a bicycle? If not, why not?
  • Are they allowed on the sidewalk?
  • Do you have to ride them in the road, with cars … uh, depending on the speed limit?
  • Do you need a driver's license?
  • Do you need a helmet?
  • Are you even allowed to legally ride them in public at all outside of private property?

The answers also vary wildly depending on where you live, and with no consistency or apparent logic. Here are the current electric scooter laws in California, for what it's worth, which require the rider to have a valid driver's license (unlike electric bicycles) and also disallow them from sidewalks, both of which I feel are onerous and unnecessary restrictions.

One aspect of those laws I definitely agree with, however, is the 15 mile per hour speed restriction. That's a plenty brisk top speed for a standing adult with no special safety equipment. Anything faster starts to get decidedly … uncomfortable. Consider this monster of a 1165KWh electric scooter, with dual motors and dual suspension that goes up to forty freakin' miles per hour.

That … is … terrifying. Even the reviewer, in full motorcycle safety gear, wasn't willing to push it all the way to 40 MPH. And I don't blame him! But now that I've shown you the undisputed Honda Civic everyman budget model of electric scooter in the M365, hopefully this gives you a taste of the wider emerging diversity in these kinds of minimalistic electric vehicles. If you want a luxury electric scooter, an ultralight electric scooter, a rugged offroad electric scooter … all things are possible, for a price.

Another reason the M365 is available for so cheap is that is successor, the Xiaomi M365 Pro, was recently released, although it is not quite possible to obtain in the US at the moment.

Having ridden my M365 a fair bit, I can confirm all the Pro improvements are welcome, if incremental: bigger battery and disc brake, more power, better display, improved latch mechanism, etc.

xiaomi-mi-m365-vs-pro

None of those Pro improvements, however, are worth a 2× increase in price so I'd recommend sticking with the M365 for now because its value proposition is off the charts. Did I mention there's a bluetooth connection, and an app, and it is possible to hack the M365 firmware? Pretty cool how electric vehicles are inherently digital, isn't it?

Here are a few other observations after riding my M365 around a fair bit:

  • Please be respectful around pedestrians. Most of the sidewalks around here are not busy at all, but the pedestrians I encountered on the electric scooter were definitely more freaked out than I’ve seen before when using regular kick scooters (or skateboards) on the sidewalk, which did surprise me. An electric scooter has more heft to it, both physically at 26 pounds, and in the 15 mile per hour speed it can reach – but also mentally in terms of how it looks and how people approach it. I recommend slowing down to just above walking speed when encountering pedestrians, and if there is a bike lane available, I'd definitely recommend using that.

  • Hills work great. The kryptonite of traditional kick scooters is hills, and I'm pleased to report that even with a cough sizable adult such as myself riding, I was able to sustain a respectable above-walking speed on most reasonable hills. Where I looked at a hill and thought "this probably should work", it did. That's impressive, considering this isn't the upgraded Pro model with bigger battery and more powerful motor. On flats and downhills the performance is superb, as you'd expect. That said, if you are a really big or tall adult, or live in a particularly hilly area, wait for the Pro model or an equivalent.

  • Portability is good, but borderline. At ~26 pounds, the electric scooter is reasonably portable, but it's not something you a) could really get away with taking inside a restaurant / store with you to prevent theft or b) want to be carrying around on your person for any significant length of time. It's not nearly as nimble or portable as a kick scooter, but that's a high bar. You'll need to carry a bike lock and think about how to lock your scooter on bike racks, which turned out to be … more geometrically challenging than I anticipated due to the small tires, disc brakes, and the engine in the front wheel. They need more obvious locking points on the chassis.

To be honest with you I'm still bitter about the whole Segway debacle. There was so much hype back in the day. That ridiculous thing was supposed to change the world. Instead, we got … Paul Blart Mall Cop.

paul-blart-segway

A Segway was $5,000 at launch in 2001, which is a whopping $7,248 in inflation adjusted dollars. Here in 2019, cheap $200 to $300 electric scooters are basically the transformational technology the Segway was supposed to be, aren't they? Are electric scooters the future of (most) transportation? I'm not sure, but I do like where we're headed, even if it took us twenty years to get there.

Newly Discovered Deep Sea Squid Sacrifices Herself to Keep Giant Eggs Safe

Source by Ed Cara

A team of deep sea scientists has made one mother of a find. In recent research, they detail the discovery of a female squid performing an unusual behavior for its kind: protecting and carrying around a clutch of giant eggs. The mama squid likely belongs to a previously unknown species of cephalopod, the researchers…

Read more...

The Out-of-Touch Adults' Guide to Kid Culture: Why People Are Playing a Banana-Clicking Game

Source by Stephen Johnson

Deep inside the weird phenomenon of banana clicking.

It's summertime, and you gotta fill the empty hours somehow, so young people are clicking bananas, creating imaginary shows on Netflix, and developing very strong opinions about Star Wars.

Why gamers are spending all day clicking bananas

Video game companies typically spend between $60 and $80 million producing a single AAA video game, but a free-to-play game that probably cost about six bucks to develop is currently sitting at the number two position on Steam’s online chart and threatening to take over Counter-Strike's top spot. There are around 800,000 people currently “playing” Banana, up from about 400,000 last week, so it’s going a little bananas. As for what it actually is, here’s the official description: “Banana is a clicker Game, in which you click a Banana!” That’s really all you do.

Many users seem to be into it because it’s dumb and ridiculous, but there’s another driver for Banana’s popularity. If you leave the program running for three hours, you “own” a digital banana skin. Leave it running for 18 hours and you own a rare digital banana skin. These assets can then be sold on Steam’s marketplace. Common bananas sell for pennies. Rare ones can sell for over $100. So gamers are making a little money by playing it too.

While there’s something unseemly about how Banana strips the “game” part away from selling gaming assets, it doesn’t seem like a scam or an NFT-style pyramid scheme. The developers aren’t making any untrue claims about their game. People are willing shell out the price of digital bananas (for some reason), so everyone makes a few cents—Steam gets its cut, Banana’s developers get their cut, and the banana-clicking user gets their cut. 

As Banana’s popularity continues to increase, it seems possible that Steam will decide its doesn’t want to be the internet’s home of clicking bananas and pull the game, but for now, you can still click bananas all day, if you’re that kind of person. 

What is Smiling Friends?

Smiling Friends is this year's must-watch program for the younger set. The first season of the animated series premiered on Adult Swim, the Cartoon Network’s nighttime programming block, in 2022, but it started really catching on this May, when season two began. Like Adventure Time before, it’s one of those shows everyone likes, to the tune of a 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Smiling Friends combines traditional animation with stop-motion, live action, rotoscoping, and really any other technique, to tell the story of The Smiling Friends Corporation, a small business dedicated to making people happy. From that simple concept, Smiling Friends spins unexpected, innovative, and bizarre tales that are funnier, smarter, and more cutting than just about anything else on TV. Creators Michael Cusack and Zach Hadel started on YouTube before collaborating on Smiling Friends, and they bring the online sensibility to every episode. Definitely check it out if you like watching things that are good. New episodes of Smiling Friends air on Adult Swim on Sundays at midnight, and are available to stream on Max the following day.

Is there a Netflix show called My Best Day?

If you’ve been seeing promos on Instagram, X, or TikTok for a Netflix series called My Best Day and thought, “I’d like to see that show,” you can’t. It’s not a real show; it’s a meme. Last week, Instagrammers, Snapchatters, Xers, and others started inserting pictures of themselves, artwork, and videos into a fake Netflix homepage preview screen for a series called “My Best Day.” Here’s the Snapchat filter if you want to make your own. And here are a few examples for inspiration

New meme stock alert: internet bullish on Grindr?

In the middle of Pride Month, the financial wizards at Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets are hyping a new meme stock: Grindr. Late last week, a ton of posts started appearing on the subreddit, with users promising to put “everything I own + my mothers chemotherapy fund into this stock.” Grindr’s price jumped from $9.23 a share to $10.37 in a single day on Friday, but I don’t know how anything works, so who knows whether that was due to Reddit or not. Today the stock is sinking back to earth, for what that’s worth. Whether Grindr will go the way of GameStop and become a financial saga that goes on for years and inspire a feature film, or is just a flash-in-the-pan online joke that will not be remembered eight minutes from now remains to be seen. Note: please do not take any investing advice from Reddit.

Viral video of the week: The Acolyte Episode 3: Absolute Garbage

This week’s viral video comes from YouTube channel Star Wars Theory. In “The Acolyte Episode 3: Absolute Garbage,” Star Wars Theory gives their unvarnished opinion about the latest episode of Disney+’s new series Star Wars: The Acolyte. The verdict: It's really bad.

A negative review from a fan isn’t that interesting on its own—no one hates Star Wars as much as Star Wars fans after all—but the review is part of a larger trend within Star Wars fandom. The Acolyte is a critical hit. It’s got an 83% “fresh” rating among Rotten Tomatoes critics. But the fans are seemingly rejecting it: the audience score is only 15%, and there's a lot going on here.

Part of The Acolyte's bad audience score seems to come from that depressing "white dude" faction of the fandom that doesn't like "wokeness" in "their" Star Wars—the series' diverse cast and its "space witch" coven proclaiming that the galaxy doesn't welcome “women like us" is the kind of thing that rubs cretins the wrong way (as if science fiction hasn't always commented on current culture). Star Wars Theory raised some controversy recently by saying that women don't like Star Wars, but his gripe here (if we take him at face value) is about the show's lore not fitting in with the established Star Wars universe.

"This isn't what Star Wars is supposed to be" has been a common criticism of the franchise since the prequels were released in the 1990s. A lot of fans don't like The Acolyte for the same reason I thought the prequels were dogshit: The movie/show/cartoon that defines the series for each fan is the one they happened to have seen when they were 11.

It's not a dumb criticism like "this is too woke," but the sheer volume of canonical Star Wars product, new audience expectations, and changing mores, make lore consistency impossible. Since Star Wars: A New Hope premiered in the late 1970s, twelve Star Wars feature films, six Star Wars live-action TV shows, nine animated series, and around 100 video game adaptations have been released, all at different times and aimed at different people. This isn’t generally a problem for critics or casual viewers, because it’s a just a show, so who cares, but if you’ve made your love of Star Wars part of your identity, and you have a lot of time to think about how it all fits together because you don’t have a job or family yet, it’s serious. 

Lore creep isn't the whole problem, though. On the meta level, a critical mass seems to have been reached that is forcing Star Wars fas to confront the sausage-making behind the thing they love. Star Wars is special to the people who love it. It's personal. But whatever specialness is left in the series is being rapidly smothered under a mountain of mediocrity slapped with the Star Wars name. Along with the shows, books, movies, and video game tie-ins, there’s more official Star Wars merchandise—t-shirts, figurines, coffins, etc.—than anyone could collect in a lifetime. It's exhausting, and it's becoming impossible to ignore that whole thing is a money-grab, where fans are seen as walking wallets. See also, the backlash over the Star Wars Hotel.

The original films became merchandising opportunities after they became successful, but at least you could argue that the action figures and t-shirts were in response to people wanting them, not the other way around. Now the Star Wars cart is permanently before the Star Wars horse and selling dolls and shit is the entire point. The ruthless efficiency with which the intellectual property is managed is revealing an emptiness beneath the surface that's impossible to ignore.

Microsoft Is Pulling Recall From Copilot+ at Launch

Source by Michelle Ehrhardt

The controversial new feature will only be available in a test build for Windows Insiders.

It’s been a tough few weeks for Microsoft’s headlining Copilot+ feature, and it hasn't even launched yet. After being called out for security concerns before being made opt-in by default, Recall is now being outright delayed.

In a blog post on the Windows website on Thursday, Windows+ Devices corporate vice president Pavan Davuliri wrote that Recall will no longer launch with Copilot+ AI laptops on June 18th, and is instead being relegated to a Windows Insider preview “in the coming weeks.”

“We are adjusting the release model for Recall to leverage the expertise of the Windows Insider Community to ensure the experience meets our high standards for quality and security,” Davuluri explained.

The AI feature was plagued by security concerns

That’s a big blow for Microsoft, as Recall was supposed to be the star feature for its big push into AI laptops. The idea was for it to act like a sort of rewind button for your PC, taking constant screenshots and allowing you to search through previous activity to get caught up on anything you did in the past, from reviewing your browsing habits to tracking down old school notes. But the feature also raised concerns over who has access to that data.

Davuliri explains in his post that screenshots are stored locally and that Recall does not send snapshots to Microsoft. He also says that snapshots have “per-user encryption” that keeps administrators and others logged into the same device from viewing them.

At the same time, security researchers have been able to uncover and extract the text file that a pre-release version of Recall uses for storage, which they claimed was unencrypted. This puts things like passwords and financial information at risk of being stolen by hackers, or even just a nosy roommate.

Davuliri wasn’t clear about when exactly Windows Insiders would get their hands on Recall, but thanked the community for giving a “clear signal” that Microsoft needed to do more. Specifically, he attributed the choice to disable Recall by default and to enforce Windows Hello (which requires either biometric identification or a PIN) for Recall before users can access it.

Generously, limiting access to the Windows Insider program, which anyone can join for free, gives Microsoft more time to collect and weigh this kind of feedback. But it also takes the wind out of Copilot+’s sails just a week before launch, leaving the base experience nearly identical to current versions of Windows (outside of a few creative apps).

It also puts Qualcomm, which will be providing the chips for Microsoft’s first Copilot+ PCs, on a more even playing field with AMD and Intel, which won’t get Copilot+ features until later this year.

MultiVersus

Source

Det må se ut som en skamlös Super Smash Bros-kopia, men faktum är att {MultiVersus} är betydligt mer än så. Utöver det delade konceptet med maskotfighting och slagsmål på fyra personer, så döljer sig ganska rejält skilda spelsystem under ytan, där MultiVersus påminner mer om ett traditionellt fightingspel komplett med mindre gimmickar och fokus på lagspel två mot två.

<bild>27 kämpar är med från start, och fler spektakulära namn lär vara på väg.</bild>

Efter en initialt oerhört populär beta förra året, dalade dock intresset ganska drastiskt. I sig inget konstigt eftersom spel alltid är som hetast när de är nya och "alla" ska lira dem, innan många går vidare till nya jaktmarker i takt med att fler och mer lockande alternativ släppts. Det stora problemet med MultiVersus-betan var hur barskrapat det var på innehåll och saker att låsa upp, utöver grundfunktionen att kunna slåss samt en välgjord tutorial. Därför har en av de stora frågorna inför det färdiga spelet varit hur de skulle skapa mer beständigt värde och göra det meningsfullt och varierat att kämpa vidare.

Så vad är det nu vi får då? Jo, MultiVersus erbjuder hela 27 valbara karaktärer, och fler är givetvis på gång. Det handlar om kämpar från Warners många universum, där vi precis som i betan hittar Bugs Bunny, Batman, Tom & Jerry, Arya Stark och Shaggy Rogers. Här finns även de DLC-kämpar som lades till med så vi kan slåss som bland annat Gizmo och Black Adam samt några nya där vi hittar exempelvis Agent Smith, Jason Vorhees och The Joker. En noterbar nyhet är dock att Support-klassen slopats och de som tidigare var just Support har nu istället fogats in i Mage-klassen.

<bild>Det finns flera nya banor att slåss på, alla med sin egen lilla twist.</bild>

När du startar spelet får du en kort och obligatoriskt genomgång av spelsystemet, men något jag noterar är att Player First Games av någon anledning tycks ha tagit bort det ganska djupa system som fanns för att träna sin karaktär. Det är därmed svårare att få hjälp med att få mesta möjliga ur mer komplexa kämpar som Harley Quinn och Iron Giant. Ett väldigt överraskande val med tanke på att de hade detta system tillgängligt i betan. En rimlig gissning är att det är kopplat till det faktum att man nu inte längre kan träna med kämpar man inte äger, vilket var ett fiffigt sätt att lära sig slåss mot andra karaktärer, och även detta anser jag är ett dåligt beslut. Tyvärr stannar det inte där och du kan inte längre spela co-op mot datorkontrollerat motstånd, av någon obegriplig anledning.

Tyvärr stannar dock inte mina dåliga intryck där, för spelet känns nu både långsammare och klumpigare än i betan, och vad värre är, det tycks ha tekniska problem både med det grafiska och nätkoden. Spelet laggar nämligen till mellan varven, vilket är helt oförlåtligt i ett fightingspel, och dessutom har jag haft flera nedkopplade matcher - något jag ändå väldigt sällan drabbades av i betan. Dessutom får vi nu mindre information efter matcherna för att kunna se vem som delade ut mest stryk, och så vidare. Som lök på laxen har priserna på mikrotransaktionerna höjts något till nivåer jag tycker är på gränsen.

<bild>Det går inte längre att se vem som gjorde vad efter matcherna.</bild>

En katastrof i vardande? Nejdå, även om MultiVersus som beta faktiskt på flera sätt fungerade bättre än det färdiga spelet, så har lyckligtvis förbättringar gjorts. Nu dräller det av olika utmaningar och saker att låsa upp, vilket gör det roligare att spela vidare eftersom det hela tiden känns som att det finns något nytt att få bakom knuten. Som väntat är det dock en hel grind och olika valutor för att låsa upp saker och ting, men det hör å andra sidan free-to-play-modellen till.

Själva spelet är fortfarande otroligt underhållande, och det tar aldrig lång tid att hitta medspelare när jag lirar själv. Ofta märker jag att det fungerar bra med vissa spelare, varpå vi lirar vidare tillsammans och i vissa fall rent av blir varandras vänner (Xbox-versionen). Allra bäst är det dock tillsammans med folk jag känner, och att lira med min sambo eller vänner gör att det lyfter ordentligt, och det öppnar för mycket mer strategi.

<bild>Det är betydligt aggressivare färgmarkeringar av kämparna denna gång, och striderna är lika underhållande som någonsin förr.</bild>

Spelsystemet har modifierats en del, främst genom att spelet nu går lite långsammare än tidigare. Många har varit väldigt kritiska mot detta, men för min egen del tror jag det bara handlar om en vanesak. Spelet får en lite annan tyngd på detta sätt och känns en aning mindre spattigt och mer kontrollerat. För min egen del har jag framför allt fokuserat på Superman, som jag gillade bäst i beta, och jag konstaterar att han levererar här med. Bland nykomlingarna känns The Joker oerhört vass och jag gissar - baserat på flera ohyggliga möten online - att det kommer ske lite nerfs för hans del i en framtida uppdatering. Jason Voorhees känns däremot mer svårspelad och kanske snarare en kämpe som kommer förbättras något, även om det är svårt att säga såhär tidigt.

<bild>Det finns nu massor av grejer att låsa upp och utmana sig med.</bild>

Sammantaget är jag glad att MultiVersus är tillbaka igen. Det är ett förbaskat roligt multiplayerspel, där jag dock känner att Player First Games och Warner gjort det märkligt svårt för sig. Att ta bort saker från betan (som kritiserades för att ha för lite innehåll) känns bara märkligt och att nätkoden inte är bättre än vad den är, är halvt obegripligt. Det här kostar tyvärr poäng och ett fenomenalt spelsystem kan inte hindra att jag ger ett snäpp lägre betyg än vad jag gav till betan.

The Best Movies to Stream This Week

Source by Stephen Johnson

If you're looking for a great movie to stream this weekend, check out these choices.

Looking to settle in with a good movie? Me too. That's why I've pored over the release schedules of major streaming services to bring you the best original and new-to-streaming movies you can watch right now.

My standout movie stream-of-the-week is Max's Am I OK?, a romantic comedy for all the late bloomers out there. If you're more into pop culture documentaries, I suggest hosting a '80s double feature with Brats, a look inside the infamous "Brat Pack" and Let the Canary Sing, a documentary about the great Cyndi Lauper.

Am I OK?

In this heartfelt romantic comedy, Dakota Johnson plays Lucy, a receptionist at a Los Angeles spa who starts to suspect, at 32 years old, that she might be gay. As Lucy discovers more about herself, she's also dealing with the imminent departure of her longtime best friend Jane, played by Sinoya Mizuno. Am I OK? is sitting at 83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising the cast's nuanced performances and the writing talent of first-time screenwriter Lauren Pomerantz, who eschews cliches and well-worn tropes in favor of honesty.

Where to stream: Max

Let the Canary Sing

Everyone loves Cyndi Lauper for her massive singing talent and her flamboyant style, but not enough people know the person behind behind the act. Through archival footage and interviews, Let the Canary Sing explores Lauper's meteoric ascension to superstardom, her unique and ever-changing fashions, her uncompromising artistic vision, and her lifelong advocacy.

Where to stream: Paramount+

Brats

To teenagers in the 1980s, no one was cooler, sexier, or more famous than The Brat Pack, that cadre of young actors that starred in every teen movie and seemed to rule Hollywood. Directed by original brat-packer Andrew McCarthy, Brats gives us a view from inside the fame fishbowl through interviews with brat packer Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy and more. (Spoiler: being in the Brat Pack wasn’t as much fun as you probably imagined.) 

Where to stream: Hulu

Keith Robinson: Different Strokes

Keith Robinson is a very funny comic, but his new Netflix stand-up special should be extra hilarious and/or poignant because of its subject matter. In 2020, Robinson popped a Viagra on an airplane and had a stroke, and in Keith Robinson: Different Strokes he tells the whole story with his distinctive, no-bullshit style.

Where to stream: Netflix

Last week's picks

Hit Man

Directed by the supremely talented Richard Linklater, Hit Man tells the real story of a fake Hit Man. Gary Johnson's job is pretending to be a professional killer for police sting operations (where can I send a resume?) but he puts everything on the line when he falls in love with a potential client. Co-written by and starring Glen Powell, Hit Man takes a darkly comedic look at an unusual lifestyle. If you're looking for a funny, perfectly crafted, and intelligent movie, look no further.

Where to stream: Netflix

Queer Planet

Peacock's original nature documentary examines gay animals, just in time for Pride. The elevated part of my brain wants to watch Queer Planet because I want to learn about gay penguins, bisexual lions, and other animals with surprising personal lives; the petty part of my brain wants to watch it to spite everyone who has ever said being gay isn't natural. Turns out, Nature can be pretty woke.

Where to stream: Peacock

How to Rob a Bank

I love true crime movies, especially when they're not about murderers, so I'm looking forward to How to Rob a Bank. This Netflix original documentary tells the story of the stylish and prolific bank robber Seattle cops nicknamed "Hollywood." His real name is Scott Scurlock, and he pulled off a string of audacious bank robberies in the 1990s, often using tricks and techniques inspired by action movies. How to Rob a Bank promises all the cat-and-mouse thrills of heist movies like Point Break with the added bonus of it all having actually happened.

Where to stream: Netflix

Skyfall (2012)

In Skyfall, director Sam Mendes jettisons the campy gadgets and goofiness and goes for a "modern Bond" blend of intensity and breeziness that works perfectly with Daniel Craig's nuanced portrayal of the secret agent. The third James Bond movie starring Craig, Skyfall's Rotten Tomatoes score is 92%, and the Bond fan community generally places this flick in the company of the best films in the long-running series. If you know anyone who hasn't seen a Bond movie, this is a great way to jump in.

Where to stream: Prime

Marlon Wayans: Good Grief

In his new special Good Grief, stand-up comedian/actor/maker Marlon Wayans gets real about the death of his parents, but does it in a funny way. Filmed at Harlem's famous Apollo theater, Wayans's comedy-meet-therapy performance is based on the motto that "all grief is good grief," and touches on topics like which Wayans brother is funniest, and how remarkable it is that the matriarch of the Wayans family raised "five millionaires but only one crackhead."

Where to stream: Prime

I Am Cuba (1964)

I don't think you're allowed to graduate film school without watching I Am Cuba, director Mikhail Kalatozov’s examination of Cuba right before the revolution. Even all these years later, the lush black and white photography, graceful camera movement, and vibe of simmering revolution will stop you cold.

Where to stream: Criterion Channel

Godzilla Movie Marathon

I associate Godzilla movies with the 1960s and 1970s, but there's more in the Godzilla cinematic universe than cheesy, guy-in-a-rubber-suit flicks from 50 years ago: There's cheesy guy-in-a-rubber-suit flicks made more recently! In June, Prime is streaming eight made-in-Japan Godzilla movies released between 1999 and 2004, including Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla (1999), Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2004), Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1999), and Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2003). All of these, I assume, are amazing.

Where to stream: Prime

Big City Greens the Movie: Spacecation

It's summertime, so your kids probably need something to do. You could do way worse than watching Big City Greens the Movie: Spacecation with 'em. The Disney+ series is quirky without being annoying, positive without being cloying, and moderately funny, even to adults. In their movie debut, the Greens's Earthbound vacations turns into a trip into outer space for an experimental farming mission (it doesn't have to make sense; it's a cartoon!)

Where to stream: Disney+

Saw: the first seven movies

Saw movies are like comfort food to horror fans. From its humble beginnings with James Wan’s low-budget, indie horror movie Saw in 2004, the gritty franchise has grown into a horror mainstay with 10 feature films, a (bad) AAA video game, and more merchandise than you could collect in 10 lifetimes. Some are better than others, but all the Saw movies are variations on the theme of a madman putting people into devious traps so we can watch them die, escape, and/or enact revenge on their tormentor. Hulu is streaming the first seven movies in the series to celebrate the start of summer, a fact that will delight horror fans, even if horrifies everyone else. 

Where to stream: Hulu

Apple Launches 'Help Me Choose' Website for Finding the Right Mac

Source by Juli Clover

Apple today debuted a new Mac website that's designed to help potential customers find the ideal Mac. The "Help Me Choose" site asks users a few questions and then suggests the Mac that will best meet the user's needs.


Questions include what the Mac will be used for, necessary day-to-day essentials, info on the user's creative pursuits, the need for portability, which peripherals will be used, and budget.

Apple's algorithm for suggesting a Mac takes all of these factors into account, and it doesn't just present buyers with base configurations. It suggests upgrades to memory and storage that would be useful, and it will also present options if your selected budget is a little flexible.

The Help Me Choose website can be found under the Mac section of Apple's website when selecting the "Compare" option or the "Shop Mac" and then "Shopping Guides" option.
This article, "Apple Launches 'Help Me Choose' Website for Finding the Right Mac" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

McDonald's Ditches AI Drive-Thru Partnership With IBM

Source by Maxwell Zeff

McDonald’s is ending a two-year-old partnership with IBM to test AI’s ability to replace drive-thru workers at more than 100 restaurants, according to Restaurant Business. The world’s largest fast-food company is reportedly pulling the technology later in July. However, McDonald’s tells Gizmodo this experiment with…

Read more...

U.S. Government Sues Adobe for Hidden Termination Fees When Canceling Subscription

Source by Juli Clover

The United States Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission today levied a lawsuit against Adobe [PDF] for imposing a hidden termination fee on subscribers who want to cancel their Adobe plans. Adobe is accused of forcing subscribers to "navigate a complex and challenging cancellation process designed to deter them from cancelling subscriptions they no longer wanted."


Adobe offers its Creative Cloud products on a subscription basis, with fees that are paid monthly. A monthly payment suggests that it's possible to cancel anytime, but that's not how Adobe works because most customers are actually locked into a hidden annual agreement.

Customers who sign up for a free trial and are then charged and signed up to the default Creative Cloud plan, which is actually an annual contract. Canceling the annual contract requires customers to pay a lump sum of 50 percent of the "remaining contractual obligation" to cancel, despite the fact that service ends that month.

Adobe does let customers sign up for a month-to-month subscription plan, but at a higher cost than the annual contract that's paid monthly, and the difference is not always clear to new or existing customers. Adobe even has a whole help page because of the confusing nature of its subscription. If you look at the Adobe website, for example, Adobe lists a $60/month fee for accessing its full suite of apps, but that's only if you agree to the annual contract. A true month-to-month plan that you can cancel anytime is $90/month, and if you pay for a year upfront, you get no money back when you cancel after a 14-day period.

According to the DoJ, Adobe's setup violates the Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act (ROSCA) through the use of fine print and inconspicuous hyperlinks to hide information about the Early Termination Fee.

The complaint alleges that for years, Adobe has profited from this hidden fee, misleading consumers about the true costs of a subscription and ambushing them with the fee when they try to cancel, wielding the fee as a powerful retention tool.

The complaint alleges that Adobe has further violated ROSCA by failing to provide consumers with a simple mechanism to cancel their recurring, online subscriptions. Instead, Adobe allegedly protects its subscription revenues by thwarting subscribers' attempts to cancel, subjecting them to a convoluted and inefficient cancellation process filled with unnecessary steps, delays, unsolicited offers and warnings.

The lawsuit asks for "unspecified amounts of consumer redress" along with monetary civil penalties and a permanent injunction that would prevent Adobe from continuing to use hidden fees to thwart customer cancelations.
Tags: FTC, Adobe, DOJ

This article, "U.S. Government Sues Adobe for Hidden Termination Fees When Canceling Subscription" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Has 'Very Serious' DMA Issues, EU to Enforce Rules 'Soon'

Source by Juli Clover

Apple is facing a "number" of "very serious" issues with its Digital Markets Act compliance in Europe, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in an interview with CNBC.


The European Commission opened an investigation into Apple in March to determine if Apple's EU app marketplace changes were complying with DMA regulations. The DMA requires Apple to provide developers with an option to distribute apps outside of the App Store and without ‌App Store‌'s fees. Apple implemented support for app marketplaces with iOS 17.4, but it charges an 0.50 euro Core Technology Fee for each download after the initial 1 million annual installs.

Vestager does not believe that Apple's changes meet the requirements of the DMA. "We have a number of Apple issues; I find them very serious," she said. "I was very surprised that we would have such suspicions of Apple being non-compliant."

She went on to say that this implementation "is not what was expected of such a company" and that the DMA rules will be enforced "exactly with the same top priority as with any other business."

The European Commission plans to reveal the conclusions of its probe "hopefully soon," and if Apple is found to be violating the terms of the DMA, the European Union could levy significant fines up to five percent of its average daily worldwide revenue (upwards of $1 billion).

Last week, Financial Times said that the European Commission is planning to charge Apple for violating the Digital Markets Act. The EC believes that Apple is not complying with its obligation to allow developers to "steer" users outside of the ‌App Store‌ without fees.

Apple does still have time to make changes to iOS before charges are announced by regulators, and the EC is expected to make an announcement in the "coming weeks."


This article, "Apple Has 'Very Serious' DMA Issues, EU to Enforce Rules 'Soon'" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

You Can Get Used to Exercising in the Heat

Source by Beth Skwarecki

You may feel sluggish at first, but adapting to the heat can make you faster over the long term.

Nobody likes to feel sluggish and sweaty, so when the sun is set to “broil,” I understand that you’d rather take your workout to an air-conditioned gym. But the human body really can acclimate to exercising in the heat! After a few weeks, these temperatures will be your new normal—and research suggests you may enjoy a small performance boost when the weather cools down again.

Hot workouts can be dangerous, so I trust that you know common sense advice about running in the heat. Among the most important: Drink to thirst (or a little bit more), and stop and get help if you start feeling symptoms of heat illness like nausea, dizziness, or weakness. And while it’s great to work on your ability to run in the heat, don’t be stupid about it—stay inside if the temperature is hotter than you can handle, and stay aware of smog and ozone levels (which get worse on hot days) if you live in an urban area.

Why exercising in the heat feels so miserable

Running is miserable and heat is miserable, therefore running in the heat is miserable. But there’s more to it than that, and exercising in the heat feels even worse than you'd expect from stacking those two factors together.

Your brain perceives effort differently in the heat, so even before you overheat, you feel sluggish. In a study published in the European Journal of Physiology, cyclists who worked out in a lab with a temperature of 95 degrees were slower than when they did the same time trial at 59 degrees. That makes sense, but here’s the weird part: They didn’t overheat and then slow down. They were slower from the start. It seems our brains slow our bodies down proactively on hot days in order to conserve energy.

As a workout continues, our bodies heat up. In another study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, when asked to cycle to exhaustion, participants pooped out when their core temperatures reached 104 degrees, no matter what temperature they started at. The athletes that took the longest to reach that temperature were the ones who wore a fancy water-cooling jacket. You can mimic this effect in your own workouts by drinking ice-cold beverages and pouring water over your head. The longer you can keep your body cool, the longer you can keep up a hard effort.

It's the heat and the humidity

But cooling your body isn’t a complete solution. Dumping a cup of ice water over your head or putting one into your belly only provides momentary relief, and water-cooling jackets aren’t practical outside of physiology labs. So let’s look at what happens in real world conditions.

Your body tries to cool off, in part, by sweating. When moisture evaporates from your skin, it takes some body heat with it. In humid weather, though, sweat doesn’t evaporate as easily because the air is already full of water vapor. So when we’re talking about “heat,” we really mean something more like “perceived heat,” which is a combination of heat and humidity. This heat index chart shows the relationship:

Chart showing likelihood of heat disorders with prolonged exposure or strenuous activity. Temperature from 80 to 110 degrees F is along the top, relative humidity from 40% to 100% is along the side. You would reach "caution" level with any of these combinations, "extreme caution) at 90 degrees with 40% humidity or 82 degrees with 100% humidity, and the danger rises from there.
Credit: NOAA

You’ll run slower in the heat (and humidity). While you can find charts like this one that predict how much slower you will run a race, the truth is that heat's effect on your running depends on whether you’re used to the heat, and on your body size.

That’s right—not your fitness level, but your actual physical size. People who are larger have more muscle, fat, or both. Muscle generates heat, and fat acts as an insulator. On the other hand, smaller folks generate less heat, but have more skin through which to dissipate that heat—the ol’ surface area to volume ratio. This is why petite runners place better in races on hot days.

Some people think being more fit makes you better at dealing with heat, but that's only partially true: The fitter you are, the more body heat you produce, just because you’re so good at working hard. Short of changing your body shape (which is possible, but hardly a short-term fix), what can you do to tolerate exercising in the heat better? The answer is simple: Spend more time exercising in the heat.

Why you should start a heat adaptation protocol

Running in the heat makes you better at running in the heat—and it makes you better, period.

Say you do all your workouts outdoors this summer, while your equally fit twin does identical workouts on a treadmill in an air-conditioned gym. Who do you think will finish first in a 5K on a hot weekend in August? That’s right, you will.

But even if the weather is unseasonably cool on that August day, your heat training will still help you beat your twin. Part of the magic of heat training is that it increases the amount of blood in your veins (the better to put it towards your skin for cooling, while still having enough to fuel your muscles). The effect has been compared to a mild, totally legal version of blood doping. Scientists are still debating exactly how this effect works, and whether it always happens when people attempt to adapt to heat adaptation, but overall the evidence is strong enough that I believe we should all try to get some of those adaptations if we can do so safely.

Here’s the bad news: Heat adaptation takes work. It’s not enough to sit around in the air conditioning all summer, only venturing outside for occasional workouts. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that people who made no particular effort to exercise in the heat didn’t have any better heat tolerance in the fall than in the spring. If you want the advantages of heat training, you have to work for them.

How to adapt to exercising in the heat

Option 1: Train normally, but without avoiding the heat, for two weeks

In scientific research, heat acclimation protocols for athletes generally involve 7 to 10 consecutive days of exercising in the heat, for 60 to 90 minutes each day. A simpler method that can be done by entire teams, or by individuals, is to simply do your normal training in the heat for about two weeks.

Take it easy at first. Remember that your body is still trying to convince you that you are super tired and need to slow down. Safety guidelines for workers provide a reality check here. On their first day in the heat, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends giving workers just 20% of their usual workload. Within a week, they should slowly ramp up to 100%.

Option 2: Spend two hours in the heat every day, whether you're exercising or not

This US Army training protocol provides a good road map for adapting yourself to the heat: Spend at least two hours in the heat each day, it says, and include cardiovascular exercise (like running, cycling, or anything that gets your heart rate up) as part of that. If you can’t handle two hours without feeling symptoms like nausea or dizziness, do what you can and view the two-hour benchmark as a goal to work toward.

You can expect to be better adapted to the heat after about two weeks of spending two hours per day in the heat, although you may be able to start seeing results in just a few days.

Option 3: Visit the sauna after each workout

A way to combine the protocols above, without relying on the weather, is to step into a sauna or hot bath after your workout. If your gym has a sauna, this is a great way to use it. The post-workout sauna time will help your heat adaptation, and you can do it even if your workout was done in less-than-sweltering temperatures. The time spent in the sauna can be 15 to 30 minutes, starting with a shorter time and working up to longer.

How to keep your heat adaptations even when the weather cools off

To stay adapted to the heat, you have to keep spending time in it. You can take a few days off, but if you slack off for a week, you’ll start to lose your hot weather superpowers. This snowballs quickly: you'll lose about 75% of your adaptations after three weeks, according to the Army’s estimates.

To keep up your heat training in cool weather, you can try wearing long sleeves and tights, like elite runner Kara Goucher did when training for a world championship race in muggy Osaka. (She won a bronze medal, the first American ever to do so). She also spent a few weeks in Osaka before the race began; traveling to experience the heat might be an option worth considering if you’re a dedicated athlete with vacation time to burn.

You can also try the opposite of this keep-cool advice, and choose to run at the hottest time of day on asphalt roads with no shade. Or return to the sauna protocol after your cooler-weather workouts. Whatever you do, stay safe, and enjoy your new superpowers.

MotoGP 24

Source

För mig blir det svårare varje år att försöka förnya recensionerna på årliga sporttitlar. MotoGP faller i den kategorin, men är verkligen inte ensamma om det. Detta kommer givetvis med att spelskaparna inte heller verkar försöka förnya spelen någon nämnvärt utan släppa i princip samma spel år efter år med några små förändringar. Milestone verkar ändå ha lyssnat på vad fansen vill ha med två små, men ändå stora tillägg.

<bild>MotoGP 24 är här och det är fortfarande snyggt.</bild>

Utvecklarna har många års erfarenhet med MotoGP nu och har byggt upp en stabil grund att stå på. Och när du väl tar ut din motorcykel på de olika banorna är det en grund du väl kommer känna igen från tidigare år. Det är den brutalt branta inlärningskurvan, som känns som ett berg när jag väl startar spelet. Det är som en komplicerad dans, där minsta misstag leder till att nån blir trampad på tårna eller drattar på rumpan. Men när det funkar flyter det så väldigt fint. Snabbt som fasiken på en raksträcka, luta hitåt, luta ditåt. Det är något vackert över det hela. Men det finns samtidigt (troligtvis) inget sportspel där precisionen är så viktig på knapptryckningar. En millimeter för mycket på bromsen och du flyger av som en missil. En millimeter för lite och du hamnar ute i gräset eller gruset istället. Börja gasa för tidigt efter en sväng och åkaren lägger sig ner på marken i en glidtackling som hade gjort Glenn Hysén stolt. Kort och gott, ute på banan är spelet en utmärkt tajt upplevelse.

Något som har sabbat lite av min upplevelse de senaste åren är hur datorstyrda åkare har betett sig. De har kunnat krascha och ha sig utan konsekvenser, men nu är det slut på det. För Milestone har äntligen lagt till bestraffningar för alla. Åker en datorstyrd motorcykel över gräset? Varsågod, en varning. Bidragit till att en annan åkare flugit all världens väg? Nä, nu är det dags att ta fram stora piskan. Stewards (domare) sitter och håller stenkoll och du uppdateras hela tiden om vem som har åkt på vilken bestraffning och varför. Det är små saker som detta som höjer underhållningsvärdet i ett spel som MotoGP 24.

<bild>Det är full rulle på banan med utmärkt åkning.</bild>

Denna underhållning kommer nog för de allra flesta avnjutas i karriärläget. Det är förvisso nästintill oförändrat från förra året där det gäller att jobba sig upp genom rankingarna och bli den bästa någonsin. Där är dock här som spelets andra lilla stora nyhet dyker upp och det är något som funnits i de flesta sportspelen sedan urminnes tider. Det jag pratar om är övergångar. Nya rykten börjar dyka upp under en säsong och när säsongen är slut kan åkare byta stall i jakt på nya framgångar och säkert en stor bunt med sedlar.

<bild>Karriärläget har nu åkarövergångar mellan säsongerna.</bild>

För att kort sammanfatta läget börjar du som en lovande åkare i Moto3 när bara några få lopp återstår av säsongen. Därmed följer den första utmaningen, som hela läget är uppbyggt på. Det gäller att hamna före din rival och om du gör tillräckligt bra ifrån dig får du göra det magiskt stora hoppet direkt upp i MotoGP den följande säsongen. Misslyckas och du får tugga vidare. Efter detta kommer nya utmaningar beroende på hur bra det går. Min första utmaning i MotoGP var till exempel att ta över som förstaåkare i Gasgas-teamet som plockade upp mig. För att bli det var jag tvungen att vara längre upp i poänglistan efter tre lopp. Och så fortsätter det. Det går också att utveckla din motorcykel efter testsessioner och skaffa dig rivaler eller vänner genom att svara snällt eller elakt på meddelanden från andra på sociala medier. Singelspelardelen består sedan också av Time Trials, mästerskap, och Grand Prix. Detta kan göras med lokal split screen om du vill bjuda in en vän. Om du hellre vill spela online går det att skapa eller gå med i lobbys med upp till tolv spelare. Det finns också möjligheten att spela något som kallas LiveGP (ej tillgängligt på Switch) som är roterande utmaningar på olika banor med tillhörande ledarlistor.

Det största problemet jag har med serien är något som jag inte tror att utvecklarna ens kan fixa. Det är bristen på nytt material varje år. Men de är samtidigt hårt låsta till den officiella licensen, så det går inte att lägga till vilka banor, åkare, eller team som helst. Men någon typ av uppdatering i karriärläget eller nåt historiskt berättelseläge vore trevligt att se nästa år.

<bild>Det är ett svårt spel att bemästra.</bild>

Något som utvecklarna ska ha beröm för är hur bra motorcyklarna ser ut och låter. På det stora hela är det bra ljud förutom vad jag anser är en något onödig kommentator innan varje lopp som bara kommenterar på vad tävlingen äger rum och vilket väder det är. Utseendemässigt är det heller ingenting att klaga på och motorcyklarna ser som sagt riktigt bra ut tillsammans med åkarna, men jag märkte några gånger att fötter och knän verkade åka igenom marken. Publiken, som inte är någon stor del, lämnar dock mycket att önska.

MotoGP 24 fortsätter på den trampade stigen med bra spel i serien. Motorcykelkänslan är utmärkt, men tyvärr lider det av samma problem som de flesta sportspelen där det inte finns alltför mycket nytt från förra året.

How to Make Your Own Girl Scout Cookie-Style Caramel deLites

Source by Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Whether you call them Samoas or Caramel deLites, you deserve their chocolate-y, coconut-y goodness all year long.

I somehow missed Girl Scout Cookie season this year. I usually keep an eye out for the colorful boxes on tables outside supermarkets, but before I knew it, April was gone and so were the cookies. So I’m dedicating some time to Girl Scout Cookies, and how to impersonate them, until next year. You could probably buy a box of GSCs from Ebay or Mercari for a premium price, or you could dust off your rolling pins instead and make knock-offs with me for a lot cheaper.

Today, we're going to turn our attention to Caramel deLites, which are some of my favorites from the Girl Scout Cookie lineup. They feature a plain, crunchy cookie that’s draped in a caramel and coconut mixture, and dressed in a bit of chocolate. You might know them as Samoas. (They’re the same type of cookie, just produced by different bakeries.)

As is the case with most knock-off recipes of mass produced cookies, the homemade ones are usually more flavorful and bulkier. Despite my best efforts to make a more convincing copycat with less flavor and a more diminutive shape, the recipe I settled on is more buttery, coconut-y, and larger than the celebrity version. I even did a test batch with vegetable shortening like the ingredient list from ABC Bakers suggests, but I didn’t like them as much as I liked the butter-based recipe I made later. However, if you're looking to cut down on the butter notes (they are strong) you can try substituting half of the butter fat for shortening.

I decided to impersonate Caramel deLites with a modified shortbread dough. From what I remember, the cookie is plain, crumbly, but firm, so a simple dough sounded like a reasonable match. As much as I wanted the cookie to be closer to the ABC Bakers cookie, few people (including myself) will make an overly complicated recipe. These cookies are fantastic, but understand that they won’t give you the same straight-from-the-package flavor. Instead you’ll be met with aromas of browned butter, toasted coconut, and a whiff of dulce de leche. I know. How disappointing. 

How to make knock-off Caramel deLites (or Samoas)

1. Make the base cookie dough

Mix room temperature butter, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. The dough should ball up together and be stiff but pliable. Press it into a disc and leave it in the bowl. Let it rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Coconut topping in a bowl.
Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

2. Make the topping

While the dough rests, make the topping. Once again, taking guidance from the ABC Baker’s ingredients, I used sweetened condensed milk and unsweetened shredded coconut to make the chewy topping. I used Let’s Do Organic brand because the pieces are smaller than something like Baker’s. Mix the sweetened condensed milk with the coconut shreds to make a thick goo. 

A spatula spreading topping onto a cookie dough sheet.
Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

3. Shape the cookies

Roll out the cookie dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s about a quarter-inch thick. Scoop the coconut goo onto the cookie dough and spread it out across the surface. Now you have a two layer cookie sheet. Using a cookie cutter (I used a fluted two-inch cutter), cut through both layers. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Use a small circular cookie cutter (or a piping tip, like I did) to cut out the center hole. Put the cookies in the freezer for about 15 minutes while you preheat the oven. 

A metal piping tip cutting a small hole out of cookies on a sheet tray.
Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

4. Bake ‘em

Bake the cookies straight out of the freezer for eight to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them in the last two minutes as they’ll be pale one second and brown in a flash. Cool them on a wire cooling rack while you make the chocolate glaze. 

5. Decorate with a chocolate stripes

I went all-in and swiped chocolate on the bottoms as well as striping the tops, but if you don’t have the patience for both, I completely understand. Just do the stripes for the classic Samoa cookie look. 

Otherwise, flip all of the cookies over and have a new piece of parchment on a dish or cutting board. I used this chocolate glaze from food.com and it worked well. Mix the oil, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and hot water together with a whisk. Working quickly, swipe chocolate onto the bottoms of all of the cookies with a rubber spatula, pastry brush, or small offset spatula. Keep the layer thin to prevent puddling. Put them chocolate-side down on the parchment. Using a spoon or a small pastry bag if you have it, drizzle the remaining chocolate topping over the cookies in a stripe pattern. (If your chocolate begins to thicken and harden, just pop it in the microwave for about 10 or 15 seconds to liquify it again.) Cool the cookies at room temperature for 20 minutes, or in the fridge for five.

These knock-off cookies become more “convincing” if they cool completely, but their buttery flavor is more enjoyable when they’re freshly finished. It’s up to you. If you have the patience, give them plenty of time to cool. If not, you’ll still be a winner in the end.

Copycat Samoa or Caramel deLite Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

For the cookie dough:

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • ½ cup butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the coconut topping:

  • ¾  cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

  • ½  cup sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate drizzle:

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons hot water

1. Mix room temperature butter, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, and salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Press it into a disc and pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes.

2. While the dough rests, mix the sweetened condensed milk and shredded coconut in a small bowl to make a thick goo. 

3. Roll out the cookie dough on a lightly floured surface to a quarter-inch thickness. Spread the coconut goo onto the cookie dough to make a double layer. Using a round cookie cutter, cut through both layers. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Use a smaller circular cookie cutter, cut out the center hole. Put the cookies in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 F. After the cookies have chilled, bake the cookies straight out of the freezer for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool them on a wire cooling rack while you make the chocolate glaze. 

5. Mix the oil, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and hot water together with a whisk. Working quickly, swipe chocolate onto the bottoms of all of the cookies. Put them chocolate-side down on a piece of parchment. Use a spoon or a small pastry bag to drizzle the remaining chocolate topping over the cookies in a stripe pattern. Cool the cookies completely. Peel them off the parchment and enjoy.

Eight Things in Your Home You Should Be Replacing More Often

Source by Emily Long

For the sake of your home's cleanliness and safety, here are a few products you should inspect and potentially toss.

While keeping many household items—like detergents, cleaners, and cosmetics—past their expiration dates isn't necessarily as risky as eating expired food, it can decrease their effectiveness and potentially cause more problems than they solve. For the sake of your home's cleanliness and safety, here are the products you should inspect and potentially toss.

Laundry detergent and bleach

If you aren't doing multiple loads of laundry per week, you probably don't need to buy detergent in bulk. It doesn't go bad, per se, but it does lose its cleaning power over time. Liquid detergent can sit unopened for up to 18 months at normal temperatures but should be used within six once the seal is broken. Laundry pods should also be used within six months and stored in a dry, airtight container. Powdered detergents are good for a long time unless exposed to moisture, which can result in soap deposits on your clothes.

Bleach also begins to break down after about a year, decreasing its disinfecting and sanitizing power. Look for the production date stamped on the bottle.

Cleaning products

Like detergent, the chemicals in household cleaning products degrade over time, making them less effective at keeping your home clean and sanitized. If you deep clean often and go through products in a year or two, you'll probably get your money's worth. However, if you find bottles tucked away that haven't been touched in recent memory, test them out: anything clumpy, discolored, smelly, or that fails to foam up is probably expired.

Cleaning supplies

Again, cleaning supplies don't come with an expiration date, but you're likely holding onto them way past their suggested use. Your toilet brush should be tossed and replaced every few months—otherwise, bacteria can build up in the bristles and on the handle. Kitchen sponges should be tossed out every few weeks (or swapped for an alternative that can be washed and sanitized, like a dish cloth or a silicone scrubber).

Sunscreen

If there was ever a product you want to be at maximum effectiveness, it's sunscreen. The FDA requires sunscreen manufacturers to make formulas that last for three years, so if you go through bottles quickly, you probably don't need to worry too much about expiration. But it's good practice to check bottles you haven't used in a while—like at the start of the summer—for expiration dates. You should also check the date upon purchase, and if there's no expiration listed, write one on the container.

Cosmetics and medications

Your bathroom cabinet is full of items that expire, like cosmetics, toothpaste, and pharmaceuticals. Keeping these items past their expiration can decrease their effectiveness (like toothpaste, which is good for about two years from the manufacture date) or increase the risk that the product will degrade or be exposed to bacteria and fungi. While cosmetics aren't regulated, most have a recommended shelf life listed on their labels. Mascara in particular should be tossed every few months.

Toothbrushes

Your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head should be replaced about every three months, according to the American Dental Association—more often if you are sick, or for kids who tend to chew on the bristles. An old and degraded toothbrush won't clean as thoroughly, leaving plaque behind and allowing germs to hang out around your teeth.

Filters

There are nearly a dozen appliances in your home—furnace, dryer, HVAC, range hood, etc.—that require filters, all of which need to be replaced on a regular basis to keep everything running at maximum effectiveness (which keeps your indoor air, water, and clothes clean). Depending on the type, you should be replacing filters every one to six months.

Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers

Fire safety isn't a set-and-forget situation. Smoke detectors should be tested every few months and replaced after 10 years from the date of manufacture. Carbon monoxide detectors should be swapped out every five to seven years. Disposable fire extinguishers have a shelf life of 10 to 12 years, while rechargeable extinguishers should be inspected and refilled every six years.

Is Leaky Starliner Stuck at the ISS? Boeing and NASA Say No Despite Yet Another Delay

Source by Passant Rabie

Two NASA astronauts won’t be returning back from the International Space Station (ISS) for an additional four days, the latest in a series of delays that has marred the Starliner program for years.

Read more...

Amazon's 'Blink Moments' Turns Your Camera Footage Into Shareable Videos

Source by Amanda Blum

It's about to get easier to share videos of squirrels ringing your doorbell.

Amazon has seemingly figured out that part of our obsession with security cameras is being able to share the moments we capture, whether funny, scary, or just plain weird. As a way to sweeten the deal for subscribers of the Blink Plus plan, Blink will now give you a daily summary of your events, stitched together in a single “moment” made for sharing.  

Jonathan Cohn, head of product at Blink, seems to acknowledge that most of the videos on security cams aren’t dangerous or threatening, but rather another format for capturing our daily lives. Per a press release from Blink, “Whether it’s their family playing outside, packages being delivered, or pets exploring the yard, Blink Moments combines the moments that matter into one video.”

While Blink Moments is starting to roll out today, it’ll take a few weeks for all subscribers to see the feature. Blink offers two tiers of plans: Blink Basic ($3/month) for one camera, or Plus ($10/month) for more than one. Moments is only available on the higher tier, but according to Amazon, most customers have at least three Blink cameras anyways. The Plus plan already offers person detection, live view recording, up to 60 days of video cloud storage, and motion-detection video recording. 

Sharing aside, if your camera grabs a lot of footage, it can be painful to scroll through all the saved clips. I suspect most people, like me, simply don’t. A similar feature is available to me via my Eufy Pet Camera, which gives me an end-of-day collection of my dog’s hilarity all ready to share, and I admit has made me more likely to actually see what the camera is recording (and share it).

Blink, which is owned by Amazon, offers a range of indoor and outdoor cameras. I’ve reviewed a number of them and found them generally to be affordable and easy to install cameras with a neat, easy app for viewing.

The Real History of Flag Day

Source by Stephen Johnson

Have you finished writing your Flag Day essay yet?

If you’re anything like me, you woke up this morning to a calendar pop-up saying that Flag Day is tomorrow, June 14. You probably know as much about Flag Day as I know about JoJo Siwa—I’ve heard of her, I know she has something to do with music, but I assume she’s for other people, so I’ve never looked into it further. But read on if you’re curious about Flag Day—where it came from, who celebrates it, why it exists, and what it all means.

What even is Flag Day?

Celebrated annually on June 14, Flag Day marks the anniversary of the 1777 Continental Congress decree solidifying the design of the American Flag with these inspiring words that all school children know by heart: “Resolved: That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed June 14 to be Flag Day in 1916, and in 1949, Harry Truman made it official by signing the observance into law. A single day wasn’t patriotic enough though; in 1966, Congress declared that Flag Day falls in the middle of Flag Week. Take that, Communists. 

Do I get to take a day off for Flag Day?

You don’t get time off for Flag Day (and don’t even think about Flag Week). Honoring the design of our flag is important for all Americans, but it is not important enough for a proper holiday, so the mail still gets delivered, federal offices and banks remain open, and there’s no three-day weekend. I think we can all agree that this is a rip-off. 

Where did Flag Day come from?

In 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand, an 18-year-old teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin assigned his students to write an essay about what the American flag means to them. Cigrand quit teaching soon after and left Wisconsin to become a dentist, but he never forgot his patriotic busywork assignment, and spent years lobbying the U.S. government to make the day into a holiday. 

In a Flag Day speech in 1917, President Wilson tied the holiday to the necessity of sending American troops to Europe to fight in World War I. This was the first time the American military fought overseas, and if I didn’t know better, I’d think the real reason Flag Day exists is not due to a patriotic Wisconsin teacher’s writing assignment, but because of a campaign to sway public opinion to support America’s involvement in World War I.

How do people celebrate Flag Day?

According to military.com, “Flag Day is celebrated with parades, essay contests, ceremonies, and picnics sponsored by veterans groups, schools, and groups like the National Flag Day foundation.” I find this dubious. I love ceremonies and essay contests, but I have never attended any kind of Flag Day celebration, and neither have any of my thousands of friends, colleagues, and well-wishers.

The do celebrate in Waubeka, Wisconsin, ground-zero for Flag Day. This year, the town will be hosting a parade, a fireworks display, and a musical performance by Eric Barbieri And The Rockin' Krakens.

Who designed the American Flag?

We honor the flag on Flag Day, but we don't honor the graphic designer who invented it. The Continental Congress’ “here’s what our flag is going to be” proclamation doesn’t go into a lot of detail about how the alternating red and white stripes and stars should be arranged, so technically, you could put put ‘em anywhere, but someone came up with the design we all know and tolerate. We just don’t know for sure who it was. 

It almost definitely wasn’t Betsy Ross. She did sew flags during the American Revolution, but the story that President Washington presented Ross with a rough sketch that she changed around to make our flag isn’t supported by any evidence beyond stories told in the Ross family, so historians are like, “nah."

The leading suspect for flag designer is Francis Hopkinson, a founding father, poet, playwright, and musician who also had an eye for design. Among other iconic pieces of Americana, he created the Seal of the United States (and by extension the logo of The Ramones).

Hopkinson wrote a letter to the Board of Admiralty in 1780 requesting payment for designing the U.S. flag. He asked for a “quarter cask of the public wine,” but the request was denied, partly because the board said other, unnamed, people also worked on the flag design, and partly because the nation was broke.

Don’t we celebrate the flag on July 4? Isn’t that enough already?

July 4 is for celebrating our nation’s independence and our nation’s general awesomeness. Flag Day is for celebrating the symbol of our nation’s general awesomeness. Don’t worry about mixing it up though; It's a free country so they won’t throw you in jail for it—YET.

The Best Ways to Digitize Your Old Photo Collection

Source by Lindsey Ellefson

Be honest with yourself: When's the last time you looked through that old photo album in the basement?

I come from a family that collects old photographs, which means my mom's basement is full of huge plastic containers of pictures—and that collection is only increasing with time. Some pictures are a century old and feature people we've never even met before. Most are a few decades old and show distant relatives eating cake or accidentally blinking when the flash went off.

We almost never look at any of these, but they take up so much space—and that's why my mom decided last year she'd had enough. She wanted them out of the house and enlisted me to help her. We decided to go through them once, looking for anything genuinely important, throw out the vast majority, and digitize anything decent. Here is what we learned along the way.

Decide what photographs to keep

Whether you decide to ship your pics off to a digitizing company or upload them all yourself, it helps to work with the smallest volume possible. The same way I recommend holding a remembrance night to go through old stuff before you chuck it out, I recommend going through your physical pictures before you digitize them. From a practical standpoint, this will help you pare down duplicates, toss out anything useless, and only keep what actually deserves to be kept. From a nicer perspective, you can have a lot of fun and make some nice memories by reliving the past for a night—which was the point of holding onto these to begin with.

When I sort through photos, I categorize them into two piles: Throw away and digitize. Here and there, though, I snap a quick pic of one on my phone, just so I have it right away if I need it. It's easy to get sentimental and start making excuses about how every photo should be kept for some reason or another, but do your best to be pragmatic. You're not going to look at these often in the future. There's no reason to have five photos of your grandpa watching a football game or your toddler self visiting an aquarium you don't even remember. Select only the most important things to keep, reminisce a little about the stuff you're tossing, and keep going. My personal rule is that I pick one picture from each event—birthday parties, vacations, ceremonies, whatever—and make sure it's the best one. The rest have to go.

My best advice is to do this on a totally random night. Don't do it on a day you're feeling sentimental or nostalgic and especially don't do it around the date of something important that happened in the past, like the birth or death date of someone who's going to come up in the pictures a lot.

Digitizing photos on your own

If you want to tackle this on your own, you have two options: A photo scanner or an app on your phone. If you opt to get a scanner, get something that gets through the stacks quickly. PC Mag recommends the Epson FastFoto FF-680W, but keep in mind this thing is $599.99.

It's also a solid document scanner that can create searchable PDFs, so if you're looking to upgrade your scanner and you're in the market for something to digitize your pics, this could be the one for you. Others on the market are cheaper, like the Plustek Photo Scanner ePhoto Z300 ($199), but you'll have to manually feed the photos in one by one, which might not work if you have a whole family history's worth of memories to upload.

No matter what kind of scanner you're using, I recommend setting up a Google Photos account to keep all the pictures in one place. If you want to make the pics accessible to a wide group of people, setting up a separate account, like [yourlastname]familyphotos@gmail.com might be the way to go. I love Google Photos because it's searchable and easy to customize. It recognizes faces (making it easy to highlight or hide certain people), you can make folders and add details, and it's free and easy to access across multiple devices.

Naturally, then, the app I recommend for digitizing pics with your phone is Google PhotoScan, since it uploads your scans straight into your Google Photos library. However, this one is time-consuming: You may have to take a few pictures, which will then be put together to create the best digitization, so you have to go through every photo one by one. If you want an app that will scan multiple photos at once, your best bet is Photomyne, but you'll have to pay $199.99 upfront for a 10-year plan. You can then save all the photos individually and upload them to whatever cloud service or device you want.

Photo digitizing services

I didn't say this was a cheap endeavor; I only said it was an important step in decluttering your home and modernizing your record-keeping. Scanners and apps cost money and so does shipping your photos to a service that will digitize them for you—but the lack of hassle might be worth it.

iMemories is a service that charges $.99 per photo (but is frequently running specials, so you could pay as little as $.49). You can then pay $7.99 per month or $49.99 per year to access the iMemories Cloud full of your media, $39.99 for an 8GB USB drive, or $19.99 for a DVD or Blu-ray disk of the pics. Downloading them after the scan is free.

You could also try ScanMyPhotos, which also frequently offers specials but usually charges $229.98 per box of pics you send in. They estimate each box holds about 1,800 photos. Higher quality results will run you another $150 and you'll pay more the longer you want your download link to work before it expires.

Obviously, none of that is cheap either, which is why it's important to sort through your photo stack before you send it all in. But it's better than having stacks of pictures collecting dust and being far from useful in your attic.

Say 'Hi' to The Acolyte's New Little Guy

Source by Sabina Graves

The creature work in Disney+ and Lucasfilm’s The Acolyte has expanded the Star Wars universe with new species and droids. Following fellas like Pip, Grogu, Babu Frik (my personal fave), and more is no easy task, but the creatives sure pull it off. On tonight’s episode, fans of otherworldly little guys will be…

Read more...

U.S. Soldier Gordon Black Sentenced in Russia to Nearly Four Years in Prison: What to Know

Source by Associated Press

Black’s sentencing further complicates U.S. relations with Russia, which have grown increasingly tense as the fighting in Ukraine continues.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black sits in a glass cage in a courtroom in Vladivostok, Russia, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Black is on trial on charges of theft and threatening murder in a dispute with a Russian woman. Russian state media reported that he denied the allegation of threatening murder but "partially" admitted to theft.

MOSCOW — A court in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok on Wednesday sentenced an American soldier arrested earlier this year to three years and nine months in prison on charges of stealing and threats of murder, Russian news reports said.

[time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”]

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, flew to Vladivostok, a Pacific port city, to see his girlfriend and was arrested after she accused him of stealing from her, according to U.S. officials and Russian authorities.

Russian state news agencies Tass and RIA Novosti reported from the courtroom in the Pervomaisky District Court in Vladivostok that the judge also ordered Black to pay 10,000 rubles ($115) in damages. Prosecutors had asked for Black to be sentenced to four years and eight months in prison.

Black’s sentencing further complicates U.S. relations with Russia, which have grown increasingly tense as the fighting in Ukraine continues.

Russia is holding a number of Americans in its jails, including corporate security executive Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The U.S. government has designated both men as wrongfully detained and has been trying to negotiate for their release.

Read More: The Fight to Free Evan Gershkovich

Others detained include Travis Leake, a musician who had been living in Russia for years and was arrested last year on drug-related charges; Marc Fogel, a teacher in Moscow who was sentenced to 14 years in prison, also on drug charges; and dual nationals Alsu Kurmasheva and Ksenia Khavana.

The U.S. State Department strongly advises American citizens not to go to Russia.

Under Pentagon policy, service members must get clearance for any international travel from a security manager or commander.

The U.S. Army said last month that Black hadn’t sought clearance for the international travel and it wasn’t authorized by the Defense Department. Given the hostilities in Ukraine and threats to the U.S. and its military, it is extremely unlikely he would have been granted approval.

Black was on leave and in the process of returning to his home base at Fort Cavazos, Texas, from South Korea, where he had been stationed at Camp Humphreys with the Eighth Army.

Cynthia Smith, an Army spokesperson, said Black signed out for his move back home and, “instead of returning to the continental United States, Black flew from Incheon, Republic of Korea, through China to Vladivostok, Russia, for personal reasons.”

Black’s girlfriend, Alexandra Vashchuk, told reporters earlier this month that “it was a simple domestic dispute,” during which Black “became aggressive and attacked” her. “He then stole money from my wallet and I didn’t give him permission to do it,” Vashchuk said.

U.S. officials have said that Black, who is married, met his girlfriend in South Korea.

According to U.S. officials, the Russian woman had lived in South Korea, and last fall she and Black got into some type of domestic dispute or altercation. After that, she left South Korea. It isn’t clear if she was forced to leave or what, if any, role South Korean authorities had in the matter.

UK hits 2 percent inflation target

Source by Carlo Martuscelli

The metric bolsters a beleaguered Conservative party that had made inflation a central issue ahead of the July 4 election.

LONDON ― Inflation in May finally returned to the Bank of England’s 2 percent target on Wednesday in what will be welcome news for the Conservative government as it struggles in the polls.

Prices for goods and services in Britain rose by 2 percent year-on-year in line with analysts’ forecasts.

On a month-on-month basis, inflation held constant compared to a 0.3 percent rise last month, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday.

The cost of services, a key metric that is closely watched by the Bank of England, however, slightly missed analysts’ expectations, coming in at 5.7 percent on the year versus market expectations of 5.5 percent.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet on Thursday, where, due to the proximity of the upcoming election, it is all but certain to keep rates unchanged at 5.25 percent to not influence the political outcome of the election.

In an interview on Sky News, U.K. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride said the government could take credit for hitting the target because it had implemented the right fiscal policy, and not, for example, given in to “above-inflationary pay demands.”

“We had to take the right choices, the tough choices, make sure that we got inflation down,” said Stride.

Deutsche Bank’s U.K. chief economist Sanjay Raja told POLITICO that despite inflation hitting the 2 percent target, it won’t necessarily be smooth sailing for the Bank of England from now on.

“On the surface, this is good news after 33 consecutive months of above-target [inflation],” Raja said. At the same time, he warned that with services inflation coming in higher than expected, the gap between the Bank’s expectations and the actual data had widened, suggesting price increases in this category may struggle to slow. 

“This, we think, will raise the bar for an August rate cut… For now, markets have pared back rate cut bets this year,” he said.

Pandemic-era dislocations brought inflation to the highest in decades, peaking at 11.1 percent in October 2022. It has been above the Bank’s 2 percent target for over three years now.

The state of the U.K. economy has been a central issue for the Conservative and Labour parties in advance of the July 4 election.

After this Thursday’s meeting, the Monetary Policy Committee will meet again in August, when it may decide to cut rates.

If the polls are correct, the Labour Party will be in Number 10 by then.

This story has been updated.

Woot Is Selling Refurbished Fire TVs Starting at $60

Source by Daniel Oropeza

And you can get an extra 20% off if you order them on Friday before midnight.

You don't have to wait until Prime Day to get great deals on Amazon products. Today is Woot's 20th birthday, and as a subsidiary of Amazon, they get access to many Amazon products that Amazon wants to liquidate. Right now, Woot has a big sale on many of these Amazon products, including security cameras, tablets, smart speakers, smart TVs, and other devices that run until June 30.

To sweeten the deal, most of these products are eligible for an extra 20% off ($20 maximum discount) if they’re purchased during Woot's 20th birthday (before midnight Friday, June 14). If you're looking for smart TVs, the Fire TVs are particularly cheap. You can get a basic 32-inch starting at $59.99 up to a 4K UHD 55-inch for $269.99.

Keep in mind that refurbished products might come with signs of wear, but they were all serviced and given the thumbs-up to work properly. Woot only ships to the 48 contiguous states in the U.S. If you have Amazon Prime, you get free shipping; otherwise, it’ll be $6 to ship. 

The Amazon Fire TV 2-Series is the most basic TV and only goes up to 720p resolution, but it is still a smart TV with essentially a Fire Stick in it. And like any Fire TV, you can install Kodi to stream anything you can imagine for free. The 32-inch version is $59.99, and the 40-inch is $109.99.

The Amazon Fire TV 4-Series is a big improvement with 4K UHD resolution for not much more money than the 40-inch 2-Series. The 50-inch 4-Series is $189.99 and the 55-inch is $224.99. You'll get 3 HDMI inputs and an HDMI eARC input to connect a soundbar to it.

If you're looking for the best TV in the bunch, the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series is $269.99 for the 55-inch version. It has a more modern design than the 4-Series, with a thinner bezel, a more metallic design over plastic, and a better contrast ratio, which makes games and movies look better. It also has better brightness and a faster response time. For $45 more than the 4-Series, it's worth the upgrade. But if you won't be playing games and don't think you'll notice these differences, you might as well save yourself the money.

Selaco (Early Access)

Source

Välkommen till mänsklighetens sista vestibul, de överlevande jordbornas enda hopp och ett av de i särklass mest genomtänkta, fartfyllda och underhållande FPS-liren på länge. Något som givet spelets Early Access-status gör Selaco än mer exceptionellt och något alla action-törstande spelare bör ta en närmare titt på.

Lika delar Alien som Doom och med en god dos inspiration hämtat från Fear så bjuder Selaco på en sällsamt slipad upplevelse. I rollen som pangbruden Dawn försöker du avvärja ett utomjordiskt angrepp på anläggningen bärandes spelets namn. Något som primärt sker genom att servera ond bråd död med de många bössor du har tillgång till.

Fiender bärandes ett distinkt men ändå omänskligt utseende pulveriseras framför dina ögon. Inälvor och i regnbågens alla färger sprutandes överallt och där varje välriktat skott med spelets hagelbrakare får inkräktarna att explodera likt ballonger fyllda av konfetti. Du hör de överlevande fienderna skrika till varandra från de positioner där de tagit täckning, medan resterna av deras kamrater dekorerar rummets väggar, golv och tak.'

<bild>Dunkande soundtrack och hypervåld i ett perfekt giftermål.</bild>

Varje konfrontation kan närmast liknas vid ett välorkestrerat inferno, destillerat kaos i dess vackraste av former där dina motståndare aktivt konverserar med varandra. De flyr i panik, tycks planera sina drag, söker täckning, kommenterar på dina vapen och mycket mer.

Selacos förstörbara miljöer och de överdrivet animerade och livliga fienderna som även långt efter sin död kan ses kravla blödande genom rummen, är bara lite av det som bidrar så otroligt till spelets stämning. Ja, Selaco må vara ännu en boomer shooter, ett nostalgiskt välkryddad FPS med glimten i ögat och där de tvådimensionella angriparna är lika mycket en fars som ett reellt hot.

Men att avfärda Selaco bara baserat på den premissen vore närmast kriminellt. För under dess välpolerade, retroinspirerade yttre bubblar vad som närmast kan beskrivas som en form av hemlig sås. Och det är något mer än bara hur världen känns grundad, de många bössorna och dess uppgraderingar, alla känns väl avvägda, genomtänkta och är behagliga att använda.

<bild>Lite uppgraderingar till bössan? Jamenvisst, varför inte.</bild>

För till och med de två dimensionella fienderna känns märkligt förankrade på ett vis jag inte upplevt sedan Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun. Varje penetrerande skott har en härlig volym och tyngd som är svår att beskriva, taktilt och brutalt, fulla av kraft. Ofta till den grad att fiender flyger genom rummet när du fyller dem med bly. Det är en otrolig känsla, vilken bara förstärks av den extremt tillfredsställande interaktion som världen runt erbjuder.

Varje strid är helt enkelt ett spektakel utan dess like med effekter och våld uppskruvat till elva, vilket förhöjs än mer av de oväntat smarta fienderna. För även om de knappast erbjuder Fear-liknande interaktioner så är likheten slående och kisar man lite är det svårt att inte övertygas. Här pågår mer under huven än man först kanske är villig att erkänna.

Det är rentav imponerande så mycket Selaco faktiskt har att erbjuda så här tidigt i Early Access, och inte minst hur välpolerat och färdigställt allt känns. Även något så litet som hur tempomässigt snyggt balanserat allt är, med både plattformshoppande och pussel inströsslat mellan de intensiva och medryckande actiondelarna.

<bild>Må djävulen ta dig för att du serverade mig rutten sushi!</bild>

De är dessutom tacksamt återhållsamma i sin komplexitet när det kommer till dessa lugnare delar och där fanns aldrig något ögonblick som kändes frustrerande. Inga hopplösa pussel eller överdrivet elakt designade hopp.

Med det sagt däremot så bör det nämnas att Selaco kan vara bestraffande. För även om de många vapen du har är effektiva på att dela ut död, så kan detsamma sägas för motståndet, och även på normal svårighetsgrad dog jag frekvent. Mer så än i många andra av de många FPS jag spelat de senaste åren, så att ta för vana att använda quicksave är ett hett tips från coachen.
<bild></bild>
Det är i nästan svårt att göra Selaco rättvisa med ord, och även i detta tidiga skede är spelet proppfullt med innehåll. Vilket onekligen får en att drömma om vad som komma skall när de slutligen lämnar Early Access någon gång under nästa år. I sanning så är egentligen Selacos enda reella tillkortakommande just nu dess relativt korta längd, vilket förvisso också reflekteras i prislappen.

För med en investering på 250 kronor får du trots allt ett av de mest välsmorda, explosiva retrodoftande käftsmällarna på år och dag med gameplay som kommer få ditt hår att stå på högkant. Selaco är briljant, ljuvligt kaotiskt och blandar det bästa från genrens mest ikoniska spel till en ljuvlig, väldoftande och hypervåldsam stuvning som det är helt omöjligt att inte älska.

watchOS 11 Lets You Schedule Activity Goals for Each Day of the Week

Source by Tim Hardwick

In the watchOS 11 beta, the Activity app for Apple Watch lets you schedule custom activity goals for different days of the week, and also lets you pause your goals if you need to rest up.


If you tap the +/- button when viewing your Move, Exercise, or Stand goals in the Activity app, a new Change Daily Goal option takes you to a schedule list for the days of the week, allowing you to set each one individually.

So if you want to set custom workout goals for, say, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with lower goals during the weekend, you'll soon be able to do that.

This schedule can also be managed through the Fitness app in iOS 18. The Move, Exercise, and Stand activity summaries include the same +/- button that lets you adjust the goal for just today, or adjust your schedule for each day of the week.

In addition, if you tap the main Activity Rings display on Apple Watch, there's also a new Pause Rings option that mutes coaching and goal tracking while maintaining your Move streak. So if you're aiming for a streak and something unexpected upends your efforts (if you fall ill, for example) you can pause tracking without losing out and having to start again.


You can initiate a pause for just today, until next week, for the whole month, or until a date of your choosing. Currently, you can pause your rings for up to 90 days and resume at any time.

watchOS 11 is in developer beta, so it's worth noting that some features could always change or be removed completely before Apple releases the new Apple Watch software in the fall.

Related Roundups: watchOS 10, watchOS 11
Related Forum: Apple Watch

This article, "watchOS 11 Lets You Schedule Activity Goals for Each Day of the Week" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

The Best Way to Learn AutoCAD

Source by Andreea

The Best Way to Learn AutoCAD

There is no such thing as the best way to learn AutoCAD. The answer to this question depends heavily on your style of learning. If you have some expectations in mind while learning AutoCAD and happen to be capable of committing financially, you will be better off finding a teacher and having him help you ...

Read more

The Best Way to Learn AutoCAD

There is no such thing as the best way to learn AutoCAD. The answer to this question depends heavily on your style of learning.

If you have some expectations in mind while learning AutoCAD and happen to be capable of committing financially, you will be better off finding a teacher and having him help you make a plan. You must be able to gauge the learning material and be somewhat sure that after consuming it, it will help you get to your destination and of course set what the destination is beforehand.

There are plenty of places online where you can find nicely structured courses that will help you learn AutoCAD fast.

How long does it take to learn AutoCAD

Life. It takes a life to learn AutoCAD. The question is too vague to find a precise answer.

The answer to this question depends on many criteria which the two most important are the following

  • how far do you want to learn AutoCAD?
  • What do you want to learn AutoCAD for?

AutoCAD exists in many versions:

  • AutoCAD
  • AutoCAD LT
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Revit Structure
  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D
  • AutoCAD MAP 3D
  • AutoCAD Revit Architecture

First, you need to decide the direction of your training and that will help you better evaluate how long it will take to learn AutoCAD to the point of interest.

If you are just concerned about learning AutoCAD basics, the process will be less complicated and it will considerably take a short amount of time to learn

Learn AutoCAD fast

To me, learning by doing is the fastest way to learn.

Again if you happen to be in a paid training, all will be done for you to absorb the skills quickly (if you have done your homework by selecting a good training).

If you are learning on your own, one of the fastest ways to learn is to find as many AutoCAD practice exercises you can find, and try replicating them. That will help you find your limits, and push there further at each time you will find difficulties.

The visual style of learning is way effective and is worth mentioning here. Find videos tutorials that will show you the step by step use of AutoCAD commands, then you will be able to use similar tricks to find your ways around many AutoCAD exercises you can find on the web.

Learning AutoCAD online.

You will be able to find a lot of free online training on the web via Google but remember free is not always the best, however, the choice will heavily depend on your budget, on what you want to have an AutoCAD training for, and on the knowledge you want to acquire.

The first thing to know while seeking to learn AutoCAD is that the order of learning is very important and you will need some guidance to help you know where to start and the route to take to learn things in the proper order, if not I doubt you will keep up. You will just get frustrated and quit.

AutoCAD training from AutoDesk

Let’s just assume you want a free online course that will help you learn the basics in AutoCAD, many sites in that regards will throw a bunch of tutorials to your face without any order, just tips and tricks that will contribute to making you even more confused.

Luckily, AutoDesk has created a simple and clear roadmap for you to follow, which will increase your learning time and make you more confident as you progress.

Here is the map. These AutoCAD training Courses can be found on the AutoDesk site.

guide-to-AutoCAD-Basics

What the map does is

  • Giving you the ability to access each of the training by a simple click on the corresponding part of the map
  • Guiding you as you learn
  • Giving you a birth view of all you need to learn
  • helping you separate tools and commands in blocks or class
  • Helping you estimate the time you will need to complete the whole training by seeing how far you need to go

If you are just starting from scratch or need to refresh your skills after a sabbatical period, this is the training you need.

Another way to use this free resource is to not only use the courses provided by AutoDesk but also make use of the AutoCAD built-in help.

Each time you hover the cursor on a tool and hold that position for a while, AutoCAD always explains what the command is for and gives you an example of how it is used.

If you pay close attention to the map above, you will notice a command named Extend in the MODIFYING block.

By simply hovering the cursor on the icon corresponding to this command in AutoCAD, AutoCAD will explain what the command does and will give me an example of the use of this command.

AutoCAD-tutorial

In addition to using AutoDesk free online courses, you can decide to use the software as well.

Free training from tutorial45.com

We at Tutorial45 believe one complementary way to learn fast is to provide challenges that will push you to dig into your skills and notice where gaps exist. Thus, we push you to fill the gap.

The biggest hurdle to learning something like AutoCAD isn’t the software itself but it’s having something to actually practice drawing.

We have provided a list of 21 AutoCAD lessons in which you will be challenged to replicate 2D figures using AutoCAD or any 2D CAD software you might be using.

This AutoCAD training is meant to help you chronologically learn AutoCAD basics while at each subsequent stage increasing difficulties. At any stage, you are later shown what to do to get the exercise done in case you fail to complete the training.

This is a good added value, if you have used any resource to learn AutoCAD, and feel like you need to auto-assess your skill, you will be pleased while going through this AutoCAD 21 days of challenge.

Additional training resources

There are a lot of great free online AutoCAD courses out there, and the one I would like to start with here is mycadsite.com. The site has been there for almost a decade and offers free classes in a detailed manner. If you visit the site, you will notice how ordered the content is given to the learner.

The training has been decomposed there in 4 levels.

  • Training LEVEL 1- Getting Started with AutoCAD
  •  Training LEVEL 2 – Intermediate AutoCAD
  • Training LEVEL 3 – Introduction to 3-D
  • Training LEVEL 4 – Advanced Topics

Notice it goes even further and teaches you how to use AutoCAD in 3D.

If you are rather interested in more sophisticated skills, you will be better off following sites like lynn.blogs.com, cad-notes.com, autocadtips1.com. These blogs are handled by AutoDesk AutoCAD certified professional.

If you have any in-depth concerns about AutoCAD and simply want to know what added tools a news version of AutoCAD has compared to its predecessor, you will find related answers on their websites.

Learning AutoCAD from YouTube is also an alternative that should not be disregarded. Video courses are the best CAD learning route anyone can take, and you might just happen to find YouTube, which is the best place to learn AutoCAD online, and it is free.

If you are a beginner, try searching AutoCAD tutorials on YouTube. Again, be specific about what you want to learn while exploring. Remember by the time you start using the search field in YouTube, you must have made your homework beforehand, You must have figured out words to use and the order in which you wish to learn. Using vague keywords like “AutoCAD training” will just give you vague results. (It is true that you can find a channel in which courses are numbered, making it easier for you to follow along, but that is not always the case)

AutoCAD training Online

Here I will mention one resource, which right now is probably the most popular paid way to learn anything on the internet: udemy.com

The site is a subscription-based service that allows you to learn AutoCAD at your own space. Some videos are made available free to help you preview courses, so you can judge the quality of the course style without totally diving in.

One advantage of lynda.com is that, rather than paying for a course, you pay for unlimited access to everything in the catalog. lynda.com delivers high-quality, painstakingly detailed content that will have you focus on the most important: learning AutoCAD.

Your Summer Needs a Smoker (and Three to Consider)

Source by Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

If gas grilling has become old-hat, it could be time to consider a smoker.

If you're only looking to do the occasional outdoor cooking session this summer, you'll probably only need a simple charcoal grill. If you've got bigger plans—say, grilling every Sunday—or prefer less mess and hassle, you can choose a smokeless electric grill, or a gas grill.

But maybe you fancy yourself a real pitmaster: one who makes a point of discerning the difference between grilling and barbecuing, who strives for smoke rings and bark on every piece of meat. If this is a world you’d like to be a part of, it’s time to consider a smoker. 


The smokers listed in this article:


Is a smoker right for you?

Compared to grilling cooking with a smoker is in a different league. It’s often done with indirect heat at a low temperature, usually anywhere between 225°F and 275°F. While there are a few types of smokers, most of them involve the fuel (be it wood chips, wood pellets, charcoal, or a combination) burning at a low heat in the firebox. Smoke fills the cook chamber, slowly heating the food and imbuing it with smoky flavor. The smoke passes through the chamber and out the smokestack or a vent. 

Depending on what you’re cooking, smoking can take anywhere from 45 minutes for delicate items like fish, to over 12 hours for hefty cuts of meat. Based on your personality and what type of apparatus you opt for, you might be carefully monitoring the process and adjusting the dampers to control the temperature, or chilling by the pool and checking your smart smoker’s app to make adjustments.

Smokers work for all different types of outdoor cooking enthusiasts, which leads me to the benefits of getting yourself a smoker:

  • Flavor. Few grilling methods can compete with the flavorful bark and smoky aroma on barbecued meats. The slow cooking time ensures thorough and robust flavoring.

  • Flexibility. There are a wide range of smokers, from completely automated and wifi enabled pellet smokers, to traditional offset barrel smokers. Plus, you can use many smokers as regular charcoal grills too, if you’re ever in the mood to do a quick grilling session. 

  • A mostly hands-off process. Unlike the speedy cooking of a gas grill or cooking over direct heat from charcoal, smoking requires a lot of time and patience, but allows you to be less glues to your grill. You’ll want to keep the cook chamber shut as much as possible when smoking, which naturally eliminates some of the desire to mess with the food within. Besides periodically keeping an eye on the temperature and adjusting the dampers and fuel if necessary, you can carry on with your day. 

Safety first

Anytime you have charcoal, fires, or embers kicking around, spare a thought for safety. Always follow the directions of the apparatus you choose, especially if you’re a beginner. Keep the smoker at least 10 feet from buildings, if not for the fire risk then to keep your living room couch from smelling like hickory and charcoal.  

Don’t forget to close up the vents to choke out the embers of your fuel after you’ve finished using your smoker. And if I’ve said it once—it’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case.

For ease, consider the Traeger electric wood pellet grill and smoker

This Traeger smoker uses electricity to control how quickly the pellets are released into the firebox, so the temperature doesn’t fluctuate without your intervention. It's also wifi enabled, which allows you to check on the time and temperature from anywhere. It’s great for a range of barbecue enthusiasts, from beginners, to multitaskers, and seasoned experts alike.

For smaller spaces, try the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Not every pitmaster needs a piece of equipment as big as a cow. For a more manageable size, the Smokey Mountain will be equally at home on a spacious patio or the sidewalk outside of your apartment building (adhering to your local laws, of course). This smoker uses coals for fuel and a water pan to help catch grease and keep the heating gentle. Although best for smaller batches, this Weber comes in a few sizes, ranging from 14 inches to 22 inches.

If you prefer a hulking offset design, take a look at the Royal Gourmet Offset Smoker

This highly-rated behemoth boasts 443 square inches of main cooking surface and offers the multi-barreled design you might be looking for. As many heavy duty offset smokers can come with a price tag in the thousands, the Royal Gourmet smoker is a surprising bargain. The materials may not be as durable as more expensive smokers, but this model could be appealing for a first-timer on a budget, and looking to enter the world of barbecue. 

Building a PC, Part IX: Downsizing

Source by Jeff Atwood

Hard to believe that I've had the same PC case since 2011, and my last serious upgrade was in 2015. I guess that's yet another sign that the PC is over, because PC upgrades have gotten really boring. It took 5 years for me to muster

Hard to believe that I've had the same PC case since 2011, and my last serious upgrade was in 2015. I guess that's yet another sign that the PC is over, because PC upgrades have gotten really boring. It took 5 years for me to muster up the initiative to get my system fully upgraded! 🥱

I've been slogging away at this for quite some time now. My PC build blog entry series spans 13 glorious years:

The future of PCs may not necessarily be more speed (though there is some of that, if you read on), but in smaller builds. For this iteration, my go-to cases are the Dan A4 SFX ...

And the Streacom DA2 ...

The attraction here is maximum power in minimum size. Note that each of these cases are just large enough to fit ...

  • a standard mini-ITX system
  • SFX power supply
  • full sized GPU
  • reasonable CPU cooler

... though the DA2 offers substantially more room for cooling the CPU and adding fans.

http://i.imgur.com/odoYjle.jpg

I'm not sure you can physically build a smaller standard mini-ITX system than the DAN A4 SFX, at least not without custom parts!

DAN A4-SFX
200mm × 115mm × 317mm = 7.3 liters

Silverstone RVZ02 / ML08
380mm × 87mm × 370mm = 12.2 liters

nCase M1
240mm × 160mm × 328 mm = 12.6 liters

Streacom DA2
180mm × 286mm × 340mm = 17.5 liters

(For comparison with The Golden Age of x86 Gaming Consoles, a PS4 Pro occupies 5.3 liters and an Xbox One S 4.3 liters. About 50% more volume for considerably more than 2× the power isn't a bad deal!)

I chose the Streacom DA2 as my personal build, because after experimenting heavily with the DAN A4 SFX, I realized you need more room to deal with extremely powerful CPUs and GPUs in this form factor, and I wanted a truly powerful system:

  • Intel i9-9900KS (8 core, 16 thread, 5.0 GHz) CPU
  • Samsung 970 PRO 1TB / Samsung 970 EVO 2TB / Samsung 860 QVO 4TB SATA
  • 64GB DDR4-3000
  • Cryorig H7 cooler (exact fit)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GPU

Compared to my old 2015-2017 system, a slightly overclocked i7-7700k, that at least gives me 2× the cores (and faster cores, both in clock rate and IPC), 2× the memory, and 2× the M.2 slots (two versus one).

The DA2 is a clever case though less perfect than the A4-SFX. What's neat about it is the hybrid open-air design (on the top and bottom) plus the versatile horizontal and vertical bracket system interior. Per the manual (pdf):

Check out all the bracket mounting options. Incredibly versatile, and easy to manipulate with the captured nut and bolt design:

Note that you can (and really should) pop out the top and bottom acrylic pieces with the mesh dust net.

I had dramatically better temperatures after I did this, and it also made the build easier since the case can fully "breathe" through the top and bottom. You'll note that the front of the DA2 is totally solid, no air holes, so you do need that extra airflow.

I only have a few criticisms of this Streacom DA2 case:

  • The side panels are tool free, which is excellent, but the pressure fit makes them fairly difficult to remove. Feels like this could be tweaked?
  • (Don't even think about using a full sized ATX power supply. In theory it is supported, but the build becomes so much more difficult. Use a SFX power supply, which you'd expect to do for a mini-ITX build anyway.)
  • My primary complaint is that the power extension cable gets in the way. I had to remove it and re-attach it during my build. They should custom route the power cable upwards so it blocks less stuff.
  • Less of a criticism and more of an observation: if your build uses a powerful GPU and CPU, you'll need two case fans. There's mounting points for a 92mm fan in the rear, and the bracket system makes it easy to mount a 140mm fan blowing inward. You will definitely need both fans!

Here's the configuration I recommend, open on both the top and bottom for maximum airflow, with three fans total:

If you are a water cooling kind of person – I am definitely not, I experienced one too many traumatic cooling fluid leaks in the early 2000s – then you will use that 140mm space for the radiator.

I have definitely burn-in tested this machine, as I do all systems I build, and it passed with flying colors. But to be honest, if you expect to be under full CPU and GPU loads for extended periods of time you might need to switch to water cooling due to the space constraints. (Or pick slightly less powerful components.)

If you haven't built a PC system recently, it's easier than it has ever been. Heck by the time you install the M.2 drives, memory, CPU, and cooler on the motherboard you're almost done, these days!

There are a lot of interesting compact mini-itx builds out there. Perhaps that's the primary innovation in PC building for 2020 and beyond – packing all that power into less than 20 liters of space!

Read a Spanish translation of this article here.

Apple's Phone App Finally Supports T9 Dialing in iOS 18

Source by Tim Hardwick

T9 dialing, or Text on 9 keys, is a predictive text technology that emerged in the late 90s to make it easier to type text messages on devices with limited input options, such as traditional mobile phones with numeric keypads. Each number key (2-9) on a T9 keypad is mapped to a set of letters. For example, the key "2" corresponds to "ABC," "3" to "DEF," and so on.


Android phones have had the feature for years, and in iOS 18 beta, Apple has finally added T9 dialing support to the Phone App. So now you can type a contact's name using the number pad, and matching contacts will appear above the keypad.

When you press a key, T9 doesn't just consider the individual letters that the key represents but predicts the most likely word you are trying to type. In the same way, ‌iOS 18‌ combines all possible letter combinations to filter results from your contacts. To bring up your Dad's number, for example, you would tap 3-2-3 (D-A-D). Or if you have someone called Ben in your contacts, tapping 2-3-6 (B-E-N) should bring up their number.

The best match appears first above the keypad, and tapping the person's name will call them. If there are several possible matches in your contacts, they can be revealed as a list by tapping "X more..." below the first match. Taken together, the new options should enable faster calling.


In addition, when you type in a new number into the keypad in ‌iOS 18‌, it now gives you two options to add it to your contacts. In iOS 17, a single "Add number" option appears above the keypad, whereas in ‌iOS 18‌ there is a new button in the top-left corner that reveals "Create New Contact" and "Add to Existing Contact."

‌iOS 18‌ is currently in beta for Apple Developer Program members, with a public beta to follow in July. The update should be widely released in September.

Related Roundups: iOS 18, iPadOS 18
Related Forums: iOS 18, iPadOS 18

This article, "Apple's Phone App Finally Supports T9 Dialing in iOS 18" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

My Favorite Amazon Deal of the Day: This LG UltraWide Monitor

Source by Daniel Oropeza

Get an LG UltraWide Full HD monitor for $167, down from $250.

Ultrawide monitors can help you save space and (sometimes) money compared to having two separate monitors. The 29-inch LG UltraWide monitor can do both for the price of a single budget monitor. For a limited time, you can get this LG monitor for $166.99 (originally $249.99), the cheapest price it has been on Amazon according to price-checking tools.

This LG UltraWide monitor is considered a budget monitor, even at its full $249.99 listing price. This means that you won't get 4K resolution, smart features, or gaming monitor specs. What you do get is an IPS panel with a 2,560 by 1,080 resolution, a 21:9 aspect ratio, and HDR10. While it isn't designed for gaming, it does have AMD Freesync and a 100 Hz refresh rate, so it can handle games better than your regular budget monitor.

The monitor is mountable in case you don't want to use the stand that it comes with. In terms of inputs, it has a display port, USB-C display port (which lets you connect any device to it with a single cable), HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The design is decent, and the white looks clean (that's what the "W" in the 29WQ600-W model number stands for). Keep in mind this monitor only tilts back and forth, with no height adjustment, swivel or pivot.

One of this monitor's nice features is that it can detect when a new input is plugged in or used and automatically switch to it. It also comes with integrated speakers, which isn't very common for speakers around this price point. An IPS panel means you'll get great colors, a wider viewing angle, and better visibility in sunny environments. However, the contrast ratio won't be as good as a VA panel and is susceptible to the classic backlight bleed that all IPS panels can get.

Check these other monitor deals:

Tales of Kenzera: Zau

Source

Överraskningarnas tid är inte förbi. Tidigare i år visade sig det på förhand lite anonymt halvljumna {Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown} vara en riktigt gediget Metroidvania-äventyr, och nu i dagarna släpps {Tales of Kenzera: Zau}, debutspelet från den knappt fem år gamla brittiska studion Surgent Studios, grundat av producenten och skådespelaren Abubakar Salim. I spelsammanhang känner vi honom kanske främst som Bayek i {Assassin's Creed Origins}, men Salim har även på senare tid haft roller i storfilmsproduktioner som Napoleon och House of the Dragon. I Tales of Kenzera skådespelar han titelfiguren och hjälten Zau, och förlänar spelet ytterligare en air av högbudget och kvalitet påminnande om gamla Disney-äventyr, trots titelns egentligen något mindre omfång. Men låt mig börja från början.

Zuberi är en tonårspojke som just förlorat sin far. Vi möter honom på balkongen, försjunken i sorg, blickandes ut över en retrofuturisk pyramidstad badandes i neon och solljus. Han suckar håglöst, vänder sig om och går de tunga stegen in i lägenheten. Utom sig av frustration frågar Zuberi sin mor om råd, och av henne får han den bok hans far har ägnat sin sista tid i livet åt att skriva. En bok berättandes om en son, kallad Zau, som förlorat sin far och ger sig ut på en fantastisk jakt för att få tillbaka honom i livet igen...

<bild>Zau, spelad av Abubakar Salim som även röstlade Bayek i Assassin's Creed Origins.</bild>

Mitt uppdrag blir att guida Zau över en vidsträckt karta för att ha ihjäl tre boss-väsen, för att på så sätt bedriva byteshandel med dödsguden Kalunga. Men till skillnad från vad man kan tro, och även i motsättning till mer traditionella Metroidvania-äventyr för den delen, är vägen inte särskilt brokig dit. Nog för att kartan är omfångsmässigt större än många genrekollegors, men det är sällan jag är annat än bergsäker på vart jag ska härnäst i den relativt linjärt utformade bandesignen. Förutom korta avstickare som leder till några extra erfarenhetspoäng (som kan spenderas i det rent krasst något torftiga färdighetsträdet) eller en svårare utmaning som mynnar ut i en ny "perk" som underlättar striderna, förvånas jag över hur lite backtracking och snåriga vägval som Tales of Kenzera ståtar med.

Och jag saknar det lite, faktiskt. Backtrackingen. Visst springer jag ibland förbi en dörr jag inte kan öppna än, eller tvingas vända vid en avgrund som mitt tränade öga säger mig ska kunna tas om hand först senare, men jag återvänder aldrig. Det saknas det nästan helt incitament för, och när eftertexterna rullar förbi inser jag att de få erfarenhetspoängen och perksen jag inte återvände till knappast låg mig i fatet senare.

<bild>En modern och bred färgpalett. Läckert värre!</bild>

Nej, utformningen av den luftiga, lättframkomliga och vidsträckta kartan får mig snarare att associera till de rättframma, episka Disney-äventyren från min barndom med otaliga, förvånansvärt ospektakulära hopp från vägg till vägg, dash-manövrar och glidflygningar. Inga direkt nydanande finesser här alltså, men Zau rör sig likväl tillfredsställande atletiskt och smidigt som en modern Hercules eller Tarzan genom färgglada bergspass och grottsystem, öknar, lummiga djungler och helvetestunnlar. Det blir till en väloljad no nonsense-lunk, att ta sig fram genom världen, och även om alla platser inte håller exakt lika hög visuell standard, där det framförallt nere i underjorden kan bli lite väl enahanda gråbrunt och murrigt, ser somliga av miljöerna verkligen ut som små dioraman man bara vill fotografera och spika upp på väggen.

Surgent Studios har tillsammans med EA lyckats åstadkomma ett sällsynt välgjort 2.5-djup i nivåerna som liksom suger till i magen och skapar en känsla av liv och magi i världen, oavsett hur statiska bakgrunderna är egentligen. Jag ska inte glömma att nämna Nainita Desais kompositioner heller, vilka hela tiden ligger och puttrar i bakgrunden med sina blandningar av primitiva folkmusikrytmer och moderna synthmattor, och fungerar som en slags ljudmässig representation av den neondränkta pyramidstaden man möts av i inledningen.

<bild>Bandesignen är verkligen trevlig.</bild>

Svårighetsgraden är i sin tur ofta välkalibrerad, om än av det något lättare slaget frånsett ett par enstaka toppar. Pusslen blir också sällan mer än funktionella tempobrytare, och inte ens de frivilliga extrautmaningarna kräver mer än en tio-tolv försök. Skulle tålamodet dock börja tryta gör de smidiga laddningstiderna ett alldeles utmärkt jobb för att hålla uppe ens kämpaglöd tills man äntligen tagit sig i mål. Det enda som egentligen står ut svårighetsmässigt är striderna, som främst framåt slutet ökar lite väl mycket i både svårighetsgrad och frekvens. Till sin utformning kan de något förenklat liknas vid hur Kratos hade rört sig med sin Leviathan Axe och sina Blades of Chaos i en tvådimensionell miljö. Zau är utrustad med två masker, en blå och en gul, för månen respektive solen, och med ett klick på L1-knappen byter jag mellan dem.

Genom att kombinera långdistansattacker (måne) och närdistans (sol) är det upp till mig att försöka jonglera med fienderna, kasta ut dem från arenan, kasta in dem i varandra och överhuvudtaget bara lyckas ha ihjäl dem innan jag dör själv. Ibland lättare sagt än gjort, för även om det är bra svung och tyngd i slagen, tempot är högt och det finns en del kul kombos att lära sig och taktiker att ta till, så blir det lätt rörigt med flera fiender på de små, avspärrade arenorna som dyker upp här och var. När Zau börjar kastas runt som en vante mellan fienders ibland för snäva attackfönster av giftpölar och eldpilar är det bara att kapitulera, ladda om fighten, positionera mig bättre och ge mig in på nytt.

<bild>Somliga scener är verkligen vykortsvackra.</bild>

Inget problem i sig att ta om striderna, men framåt slutet börjar det emellertid kastas lite väl mycket fiender mot mig. Vart och vartannat rum jag kommer in i stängs ner för att frammana ett par-tre vågor av dussinfiender som inte skiljer sig nämnvärt från rummet innan, och glädjen urholkas lite mer för varje gång. Det tidigare så förföriskt lättsmälta och snabba actionhjälte-tempot saktas ner onödigt mycket utan att belöningen blir större. Vid det laget har jag också insett att färdighetsträdet inte var så intressant som det först gav sken av, utan bestod av till större del marginella "mer skada"-förbättringar.

Sedan rullar eftertexterna, efter runt tolv timmar för min del. Inte en minut för tidigt, men inte ett dugg för sent heller. Zau, och genom honom Zuberi, har under den här tiden fått försöka lära sig att hantera sin rädsla och ilska, sin frustration och sin sorg genom mötena och erfarenheterna han gjort under äventyrets gång. Han ställer sig allmänmänskliga frågor som om det finns rätt eller fel sätt att sörja på, när och hur man kan släppa något och gå vidare, och hur man accepterar ensamheten och tomheten som en nära anhörigs dödsfall kan lämna efter sig. Abubakar Salim och den övriga ensemblen gör allihopa berömvärda insatser, och är det något jag kommer minnas Tales of Kenzera för är det främst denna finstämda berättelse och tematik kring hur Zau under äventyrets gång blir till en fullvuxen schaman, vilket bit för bit växer in i rollen som någon som både bokstavligt och metaforiskt släpper själar fria.

<bild>Ett särskilt obehagligt väsen.</bild>

Tales of Kenzera: Zau tar mig tillbaka till en gyllene tid av tecknade filmer, spel och äventyr från min barndom som Tarzan, Hercules, Björnbröder, Aladdin och Prinsen av Egypten. Det är knappast ett perfekt spel, men ett lagom melankoliskt och finstämt, välgjort och episkt Metroidvania av simplare snitt som slutar i precis rätt tid.

Five watchOS 11 Features Apple Didn't Tell Us About at WWDC

Source by Joshua Hawkins

Your smartwatch is getting even smarter.

This year’s WWDC was a grand event for Apple, with the company debuting looks at its newest operating systems for the Apple Watch, iPhone, Mac, and iPad. Alongside those new OSes, it also showcased Apple Intelligence, the company’s special AI, which will power various features coming to its devices later this year.

Now that we’ve had a chance to go hands-on with the Apple Watch’s newest update, watchOS 11, there are a few features that Apple didn’t highlight, but that I think are worth discussing.

Nap detection

I’ve already reported more in-depth on this one today, but I think it’s worth double-dipping here because it’s just such a cool feature.

Before watchOS 11, you had to use the Sleep Focus functionality to actually have your Apple Watch track your sleep. Further, it couldn’t track anything like afternoon naps. That’s changing with watchOS 11, though. Hopefully this is just the first step towards a fully automated sleep tracking system.

You can finally change the ringtone

I’m honestly surprised Apple didn’t show off this one, because it’s one that many have wanted since the very first Apple Watch came out. With watchOS 11, you can now change the ringtone on your Apple Watch.

This includes the ringtone, the text tone, and even alerts for reminders, calendar, and your mail notifications. Apple also added some new sounds to the Apple Watch to give you some more customization, too. You can find all those options in Settings > Sound & Haptics.

The Translation app is now native to the Apple Watch

Translation isn’t a new app on the Apple Watch, but before watchOS 11, you had to go out of your way to download it. Now, though, your Apple-powered smartwatch will come with it pre-installed.

That means more people will have access to the Translate app than ever before—I know plenty of people who didn’t even know it existed. What’s even cooler about this one is that Apple plans to offer real-time translation using the app on your Apple Watch.

Smart Stack shows Now Playing info in Live Activities

Apple pointed out that it is finally bringing Live Activities to the Apple Watch in watchOS 11. This includes things like tracking your Starbucks order, scores for sports events, information about your seats at concerts, and other things. What Apple didn’t point out, though, is that it will also affect your "now playing" info.

In watchOS 11, if you’re watching a YouTube video, listening to music, or anything else that would previously bring up the “now playing” screen on your Apple Watch, then you’ll now be treated to a handy new widget in the Smart Stack. You can pause the music or video directly from the widget, or tap on it to go to the Now Playing screen.

It’s a nice little function that I like a lot better than the full-blown Now Playing window—but if you prefer the old way, you can turn off media inclusion in the Live Activities menu.

Apple Watch Ultra gets new training complication

This final hidden gem is for my fellow Apple Watch Ultra users only, unfortunately. If you’re sporting the Apple Watch Ultra or Ultra 2, then you’ll be able to take advantage of a new training complication on the Ultra watchface. The complication appears along the outer rim of the watchface, giving you an easy place to keep track of your current progress.

It’s not a huge change, but it is one that gym-goers and fitness fans will likely find helpful.

As future watchOS 11 betas come out, we’re likely to find more hidden features that Apple didn’t highlight. If you want to try out the new features in watchOS 11, but don’t want to wait until the fall, you can always install the beta right now. I’d recommend most people steer clear of the watchOS betas, though, as you can’t easily downgrade back to the previous version.

If you do want to install the beta, simply access the Watch app on your iPhone, navigate to General > Software Update > Beta Updates and then select watchOS 11 Developer Beta to get started.

Nancy Pelosi, After Meeting Dalai Lama, Says China Is ‘Trying to Erase’ Tibetan Culture

Source by Sudhi Ranjan Sen and Dan Strumpf / Bloomberg

Pelosi was among a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers who visited the Dalai Lama and officials from Tibet’s government in exile, which Beijing considers separatists.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers after their meeting with the spiritual head of Tibetans Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India, on June 19, 2024.

Former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused China of trying to erase Tibetan culture following her high-profile meeting with the Dalai Lama at his home in northern India Wednesday, a visit condemned by Beijing.

[time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”]

Pelosi was joined on the trip to Dharamshala by a bipartisan delegation led by Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The group also met with officials from Tibet’s government in exile. 

Pelosi said a bill recently passed in Congress strengthening U.S. support to Tibet sends a strong message to China.

China is “trying to erase the culture, reduce the use of the language,” Pelosi said during a public ceremony Wednesday in Dharamshala. “They are trying something that we cannot let them get away with.”

Read More: China’s Residential Schools Separate a Million Tibetan Children From Their Families, U.N. Says

“This bill is a message to the Chinese government that we have clarity in our thinking and understanding of this issue of the freedom of Tibet,” Pelosi said.

Beijing had warned the U.S. lawmakers against the meeting, urging the U.S. in remarks on Tuesday to “see clearly the anti-China separatism nature” of the Dalai Lama and his followers.

China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist for his commitment to limited autonomy for the region. Pelosi has been a longtime critic of Chinese policy on Tibet, and visited the Tibetan city of Lhasa in 2015.

Read More: The Dalai Lama on the Gratitude He Feels Looking Back at His Escape From Tibet

China annexed Tibet in the 1950s, with the Dalai Lama and other monks fleeing to India nine years later, where they live as refugees and have set up a government in exile in Dharamshala. 

Officials from the Tibetan government-in-exile earlier said the U.S. visit and legislation will put pressure on China to engage with them as they seek autonomy for the region.

Manor Lords (Early Access)

Source

Det är svårt att inte ryckas med av den trevliga medeltidsmusiken som möter mig i huvudmenyn. Storslagen konst och fantastiska möjligheter att skräddarsy min upplevelse är premissen för denna medeltida stadsbyggare. Det märks tydligt när du målar ditt vapen (sköld) med alla möjliga färgval och inställningar. Crusader Kings 3 har ett liknande djupt system för detta. Du kan även skräddarsy dina stående trupper. Utanför det har jag faktiskt sällan sett ett så pass omfattande system för en ikon. Du får också ställa in storleken på banorna och vilka vinstmål du ska ha, eller om du vill spela helt utan sådant. Så vad är det som gör detta unikt? Utvecklarna bakom projektet har varit väldigt tydliga med att det inte går att jämföra med exempelvis Total War eller Cities: Skylines.

Trots liknande strider i realtid kan jag hålla med om att Manor Lords först och främst är en stadsbyggare inte helt olik Anno, Tropico, The Setlers och Banished. Du erbjuds ett väldigt långsamt tempo även för genren på gott och ont. Därför blev jag glad när jag såg alternativen för hastigheter. Jag älskar att precis som i The Settlers transporterar arbetarna resurser från en plats till en annan. Först ska träden sågas och göras till plankor. Byggnader kräver att någon transporterar och bygger upp den nya strukturen. Det är alltså en invånare du inte bara ser som en siffra utan som vandrar runt i världen, lever, åldras och dör. Det gör väldigt mycket för inlevelsen.

<bild>Du kan fastna i den här menyn länge.</bild>

Jag tycker att det finns en omsorg i utvecklingen av detta projekt som syns överallt. Slavic Magic har jobbat hårt med detta projekt, och både musik, konst, grafik och funktionaliteter är över förväntan för ett indieprojekt. Den omsorgen smittar av sig till mig på grund av att jag som en konsekvens av deras välgjorda upplägg bryr mig om mina samhällen. Även om städerna kan växa med borgar och murar är det ändå vägen dit som är betydelsefull. Det skapas hela tiden minnen som när du sätter ner din första kyrka eller lyckas lösa stora problem med hunger. Precis som i Anno 1800 eller Dungeon Keeper kan du vandra runt i din värld och kika på bygget. Tack vare grafiken, säsongerna och dag och nattcykeln känns det som en verklig plats. Beroende på vad du odlar och ber dina arbetare producera kommer städerna se olika ut. Du kan skapa mer specialiserade samhällen eller mer mångfacetterade sådana.

Det är viktigt att observera att du tar över områden i denna stadsbyggare för att komma längre i hur din eller dina städer utvecklas. Fler territorium ger dig mer möjligheter att anskaffa mer resurser. Det påminner lite om systemet i Cities: Skylines där du får nya områden att bygga på. Däremot kommer du inte bygga flera städer i samma område och skalan är långt ifrån storstadsbyggena du ser i ovan nämnda serie. Jag är väldigt nöjd över presentationen och hur den tillför det spelmässiga. Exempelvis de tidigare nämnda säsongerna. Som påverkar skördar, vad dina bybor gör och hur miljöerna ser ut. Det påverkar också vilka resurser du behöver mer av. Du kan verkligen känna vårkänslorna när snön drar sig tillbaka och hur sommaren tittar fram trots att det bara är ett spel.

<bild>Att ta kontroll över områden på kartan är viktigt för att vinna.</bild>

En annan viktig grundbult är användargränssnittet och byggandet. Jag gillar inte ikonerna i byggmenyn. Jag tror att istället för en bild på husen behövs symboler för skilja byggnaderna åt. I nuläget har du fem eller fler bilder på byggnader med liknande utseenden. Det skapar onödig förvirring och du måste hovra över byggnaderna med muspekaren för att med hjälp av informationsrutorna snabbare se vad du vill bygga. Däremot är det enkelt att dra zoner och placera ut byggarbetsplatserna. Det är även busenkelt att bestämma hur många som ska bygga och att använda teknologiträdet för att få mer verktyg att skapa dina drömmars stad.

Striderna som varit en viktig bit av marknadsföringen är inte en så stor aspekt av detta som man först kan tro. Det tar tid för staden att växa så pass att du kan producera soldater av dina invånare. De ska vara i en viss ålder och män, utöver det behöver du producera vapnen och utrustningen som rustningar. Du kan för pengar även hyra legosoldater. Striderna sker i realtid i eller utanför städerna där du kontrollerar soldaterna snarlikt Total War. Däremot har du lite mer avancerade verktyg, jag imponerades över hur du kan långsamt dra tillbaka dina trupper för att lura in fienden i fällor. Tänk Hannibal Barca och slaget vid Cannae. Du flyttar kolumner av trupper beordrar infanteri att attackera och bågskyttar att avlossa sina pilar. Det är smidigt och striderna ser väldigt bra ut. Räkna dock inte med att det är fokuset eller att du kan göra det omgående. Det tog många timmar innan jag kunde strida med större härar.

<bild>Formationer är nödvändiga och att ha rätt utrustade trupper.</bild>

Strategiskt har du mängder med alternativ för att bygga fram dina samhällen. Det påminner mig mycket om Anno i det att du förr eller senare samlar in alla möjliga resurser. Även om du är mer specialiserad på något och säljer den varan till datorkontrollerade motståndare eller via handel. Däremot finns det flera sätt att ta sig fram och komma till slutet. Det är där precis som i nästan alla konkurrenter titelns problem finns. Spelet stannar nästan av och det tappar sin lyster. Kanske ska utvecklarna snegla på något som kommande Frost Punk 2 eller hitta egna vägar för att göra slutspurterna mer intressanta. Jag finner Vilka problem uppstår i större städer, kan det bli friktioner inom samhällena. Striderna är toppen hela vägen, däremot hoppas jag att vi kommer att se fler funktioner för att bibehålla vårat intresse när vi är störst och starkast i världen.

Vad vi har är i slutändan en fantastiskt sammansatt stadsbyggare för dig med lite tålamod och historieintresse. Det påminner mer om The Settlers och Banished än något som Sim City. Samtidigt har det strider i vissa situationer som för tankarna till Total War. Men det är ändå något helt eget. Det sticker ut med härlig musik, levande värld och en mysig simulering av medeltida samhällen. Det tar ett större grepp än Banished utan att vara lika bestraffande. Jag tycker inte att det är helt perfekt. Med en viss brist på kartor och avsaknad av vissa spelmässiga inslag som fortfarande är under utveckling, är det ändå ett otroligt lovande spel i sin genre. Även bristen på saker att göra i slutet av kampanjerna hindrar inte att resan dit är toppen. Jag brukar alltid reservera mig mot att rekommendera köp av early access, men Manor Lords gör att den principen är svår att hålla fast vid. Om utvecklarna bibehåller sin passion och bygger på detta till fullversionens lansering, kan detta bli ett riktigt mästerverk i sin genre. Just nu är det riktigt bra med stor potential.

<bild>Att bygga städerna är enkelt, tar lite tid men är väldigt belönande. Synd bara att titeln har en lite svårläst byggmeny.</bild>

Learn AutoCAD Basics: DAY 15

Source by Andreea

Learn AutoCAD Basics: DAY 15

In this challenge, we will perfect how to handle positioning and location in AutoCAD. This session will require the Object SNAP mode. The exercise is easy, but you must be cautious while working on the project. It will be helpful to be able to use the OFFSET command and create a circle using the features ...

Read more

Learn AutoCAD Basics: DAY 15

In this challenge, we will perfect how to handle positioning and location in AutoCAD.

This session will require the Object SNAP mode. The exercise is easy, but you must be cautious while working on the project.

It will be helpful to be able to use the OFFSET command and create a circle using the features Tan, Tan, and Radius.

Learning AutoCAD Basics

The following is the exercise we will be using in this session.

Figure 1

2d autocad exercise

Additional important information is indicated in the following picture.

Figure 2

2d assignment autocad

Execution

The following is the key image that will help complete this project.

2d challange autocad

You need first to get the above image and then trim it. It would be best if you got the following:

2d exercises

You need to give the red part an OFFSET of 10 units now, and you will end up with the following.

2d exercises cad

I imagine it is all clear now. You undoubtedly know what to do next to complete this. Do not forget the two FILLET of R5 located below the two circles.

Learn AutoCAD Basics in 21 DAYS

Marvel Comics' New Logo Kind of Sucks, Actually

Source by Gordon Jackson

In a recent Twitter post, Marvel Comics revealed an updated logo to better differentiate its film, animation and comic book divisions from one another. There can now no longer be any confusion that what you hold your hand is a not a movie, per se, but instead a booklet of still images to pursue at your own leisure.…

Read more...

Metroid Prime 4 and Other Highlights From the June Nintendo Direct

Source by Michelle Ehrhardt

Nintendo closes out this summer's game announcement season with its upcoming titles for the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo has brought the summer’s season of game announcements to a close in a big way, making good on promises that many worried had been forgotten. The Nintendo Switch 2 might be on the way, but meanwhile, in 2024 and 2025, owners of the original Nintendo Switch have a packed schedule to look forward to. Here’s just a few of today’s biggest announcements.

Metroid Prime 4

Seven years after it was first announced and five years after Nintendo said it had restarted development on the title, Metroid Prime 4 finally has a release window, plus a new subtitle. 

Metroid Prime 4: Beyond will release for Nintendo Switch in 2025 and see Samus once again go up against Space Pirates and Metroids, as well as a new foe in an all-black power suit similar to her own. The graphics seem to be using a similar art style to the original Metroid Prime’s Switch remaster, and environments appear to be large with many enemies on screen. Could this be a cross-gen title, with a version also being prepared for the Switch successor?

Mario & Luigi: Brothership

Mario’s other other RPG series is coming back for an all-new entry, titled Mario & Luigi: Brothership. The first entry for home consoles, it features a total graphical overhaul and seems to focus on Mario and Luigi being lost at sea. There, it looks like the brothers will encounter a group of characters that resemble electrical appliances. The game will keep its traditional turn-based-with-timed-button-presses combat, and despite the premise separating Mario and Luigi from the Mushroom Kingdom, Peach and Bowser make appearances in the trailer.

Mario & Luigi: Brothership launches on November 7, 2024 for Nintendo Switch.

Two big games are finally leaving Apple Arcade jail

Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Fantasian earned rave reviews when it released exclusively on Apple Arcade in 2021, with critics praising its diorama visuals and unique approach to turn-based encounters. Now, RPG enthusiasts on other platforms will be able to enjoy the game, too, with Fantasian: Neo Dimension

The port will keep the same story and mechanics, but will feature enhanced visuals, and will come to Switch, PS5/PS4, Xbox consoles, and Steam in Holiday 2024.

Joining Fantasian in leaving Apple Arcade exclusivity is Hello Kitty Island Adventure, an Animal Crossing style life-sim that earned praise for its continual updates and its deep exploration elements. The game will now be coming to Switch and PC in 2025, with a port for PS5 and PS4 planned for some time after.

Dragon Quest III is back

Originally revealed in 2021, the Dragon Quest III HD-2D remake, which reimagines the classic Super Nintendo RPG in a style similar to Octopath Traveler, finally got a solid release date today, plus some company. The game, featuring designs from late Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, will launch on Switch, PS5, Xbox consoles, and PC on November 14, 2024. But as a surprise, the trailer also announced that it will be joined by remakes of its two predecessors sometime in 2025, bringing the whole Erdrick trilogy into HD-2D.

It’s clobberin' time

After years of stagnating in rights limbo, Marvel vs. Capcom is finally seeing some love again. Capcom’s classic Marvel arcade games from the (mostly) ‘90s are all coming together in one collection, which will give superhero fans access to six classic fighting games starring the X-Men, Spider-Man, the cast of Street Fighter, and more. Yes, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is here, but oddly enough, also a beat-em-up starring The Punisher.

Marvel vs. Capcom Fighting Collection Arcade Classics will release for Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Steam sometime in 2024.

Ace Attorney gets a hand-drawn revamp

Capcom’s Ace Attorney series normally sees players defending innocent clients in court, but in these spin-offs starring Phoenix Wright rival Miles Edgeworth, you’ll instead be playing the prosecution. Ace Attorney Investigations Collection brings two Nintendo DS games to home console, including one previously only released in Japan. Players can choose between the original pixel art or new hand-drawn art from the original series character designer when the game launches on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC on September 6, 2024.

A Zelda Game Actually Starring Zelda

Fans have long joked about how The Legend of Zelda doesn’t actually star the titular princess (we don't talk about the CD-I), but that changes today. What first looked like a remake of the Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages games in the same style as the Link’s Awakening remake instead turned out to be a brand-new adventure starring Zelda herself.

Titled The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom, the game sees Link, several villagers, and even parts of Hyrule sucked into various strange vortexes, leaving Zelda to save the day.

Her gameplay is a little different than her green-hatted companion’s, instead focusing on her role as a princess. Early into the game, players will encounter the fairy Tri and earn the Tri rod, which they’ll then be able to use to summon “echoes” of various objects and even monsters. It’s a more analytical play style befitting of a wise leader, and will see you building structures and commanding armies to save your kingdom.

The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom launches for Nintendo Switch on September 26, 2024, alongside a new Zelda themed Nintendo Switch Lite console.

Other announcements

That’s just a taste of today's direct, but there’s plenty else to see in the whole stream, including a Switch port of Stray and a new Mario Party. Click below to watch the whole event.

Apple Discontinuing Apple Pay Later

Source by Juli Clover

Apple is discontinuing Apple Pay Later, the buy now, pay later feature that it just launched last October. ‌Apple Pay‌ Later is being discontinued as of today, but people who have existing ‌Apple Pay‌ Later loans will be able to continue to pay them off and manage them through the Wallet app.


Apple announced plans to end the feature in a statement provided to 9to5Mac, which also notes that customers will be able to access installment loans through their credit and debit cards with changes coming to ‌Apple Pay‌ this fall.

Starting later this year, users across the globe will be able to access installment loans offered through credit and debit cards, as well as lenders, when checking out with Apple Pay. With the introduction of this new global installment loan offering, we will no longer offer Apple Pay Later in the U.S. Our focus continues to be on providing our users with access to easy, secure and private payment options with Apple Pay, and this solution will enable us to bring flexible payments to more users, in more places across the globe, in collaboration with Apple Pay enabled banks and lenders.
Apple Pay Later officially launched in October and only in the United States, but it had been available in a testing capacity since March 2023. Available in the Wallet app, ‌Apple Pay‌ later allowed customers to split a purchase made with ‌Apple Pay‌ into four equal payments over a six week period, with no interest or fees. ‌Apple Pay‌ Later was available on purchases made on an iOS device using ‌Apple Pay‌, and was limited to merchandise priced between $75 and $1,000. Each purchase required a separate loan application and approval.

Apple did not provide insight into why it is discontinuing ‌Apple Pay‌ Later, but it is working to unravel its partnership with Goldman Sachs, the company that handles the Apple Card, the Apple Savings account, and ‌Apple Pay‌ Later. Nixing ‌Apple Pay‌ Later means that Apple does not need to worry about replacing that functionality with a future partner.

In iOS 18, Apple will let users access installment financing options from their bank when using ‌Apple Pay‌, which will replace the ‌Apple Pay‌ Later feature that Apple is eliminating. ‌Apple Pay‌ will also gain support for viewing rewards or points balances in Wallet and redeeming them with purchases.
This article, "Apple Discontinuing Apple Pay Later" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Capes

Source

Det är sant, "superhero fatigue" är ett mycket verkligt problem. Du kan inte titta någonstans utan att stå öga mot öga med något från {Marvel}, DC, {Invincible}, {The Boys} eller egentligen något av de andra superhjälteuniversum som är populära idag. Det är på grund av detta som du kanske är obekant eller mindre benägen att kolla in {Spitfire Interactive}s turbaserade strategispel {Capes}, men det skulle vara ett misstag av ett par anledningar. Till att börja med; {Capes} tillhör inte något av dessa etablerade universum. {Spitfire Interactive} har studerat många av dessa mer igenkännliga världar för att hjälpa dem att skapa historien och världen i det här spelet, men du behöver ingen erfarenhet av den bredare världen av {Marvel} eller DC, eller måste följa år av andra berättelser och projekt för att kunna förstå och njuta av historien som serveras här. Det är en originell berättelse som berättas i ett originellt universum, och som ger skaparna mycket utrymme att berätta sin egen historia, en som inte styrs och utsätts för de många infall som mer traditionella superhjälteberättelser är.
<bild>Designen är läcker och rent tematiskt berättar Capes en mer intressant historia om superhjältar och dess krafter än vad Marvel Studios någonsin lyckats med.</bild>
Jag säger detta eftersom {Capes} är en berättelse om en supermotståndsenhet som slår tillbaka mot superskurkar som har tagit kontroll över en stad efter att ha besegrat dess beskyddare för decennier sedan. Om något framstår det nästan som en mer auktoritär version av {The Boys} berättelse, där det finns ett fåtal kollektivt goda som slåss tillbaka mot en ond och korrupt helhet, och när så är fallet kan du förvänta dig hämndlystna och grymma fiender , hemska odds i stort sett hela tiden, och en mogen ton som skiljer sig från de mer färgstarka, barnvänliga historierna som {Marvel} gillar att berätta. Jag ska inte berätta för dig att {Capes} är en helt unik historia som vi aldrig sett förut, för det är inte fallet, men det är uppfriskande att uppleva en berättelse där det finns odds på spel, där det känns som att de hoppfulla hjältarna kan förlora, och det är vad {Capes} erbjuder mycket av.

Turbaserad strategi är inte något nytt, vi har till och med haft superhjältar i formatet i {Marvel's Midnight Suns}, men {Capes} vill positionera sig från andra i genren genom att erbjuda spel som inte är beroende av slumpmässiga siffror eller procentsatser, och andra frustrerande element som inte är i spelarens kontroll. {Capes} är strategi, lika ren som den kommer. Du måste placera dina karaktärer, använda dem som ett team, ta bort hot som du anser vara mest dödliga först, skydda dina svagare medlemmar, utföra sidouppgifter och mål, och allt utan att använda täcksystem. Frustrationen över att missa tydliga attacker är inte närvarande i det här spelet, men med den mer lättillgängliga spelstilen mindre beroende av numeriska värden och system i åtanke, betyder det att {Capes} kan vara en absolut mardröm att slå.

Eftersom du inte kan använda miljön till din fördel på samma sätt som i Xcom, och eftersom spelet älskar att kasta enorma mängder fiender mot dig på en gång, känns det ofta som om det finns ett optimalt sätt att klara av varje uppdrag. När du börjar prova något nytt, känns det ofta som om spelet i grunden är byggt för att motverka detta, med vissa uppdrag som kräver att du skyddar dina datorkontrollerade kumpaner som rusar in i strid utan att ta hänsyn till ditt eget välbefinnande, eller genom att be dig att besegra den vanliga horden av fiender samtidigt som du stoppar en superskurk som kan utplåna hela ditt lag utan större problem. Du måste vara insatt och ha en viss känsla för strategi för att lyckas och frodas i det här spelet, annars kommer det troligen att framstå som frustrerande.
<bild>Xcom-vibbarna är närvarande hela spelet igenom.</bild>
Karaktärsdesignen är dock utan tvekan en höjdpunkt. Varje karaktär passar in i en viss arketyp med sina egna förmågor och spelstilar som fungerar med andra karaktärer för unika och mer effektiva synergiserade förmågor. Oavsett om det är att spela som en speedster utformad för att täcka stora delar av slagfältet och slå till innan du drar iväg, eller istället ta på dig en blåserroll, dra uppmärksamheten till fiender och dra upp skada finns det en mängd hjältar att bekanta sig med, gå upp i nivå och förbättra genom den ganska enkla progressionssviten. Och du måste bemästra dem, för när en superskurk går med i striden kommer du att upptäcka precis vad det innebär att vara en bugg på en bils vindruta, en bugg vars enda hopp om överlevnad är förfinat och nästan felfritt lagspel. Folket på {Spitfire Interactive} har också gjort ett fantastiskt jobb med presentationen av detta spel. Användargränssnittetkänns väldigt raffinerat och tydligt, bilderna är tydliga och lätta att följa i strid tack vare 3D-designen samtidigt som de fortfarande har en komisk stil med pratbubblor och serietidningaktiga typsnitt och stilar, såväl som ritade element när de inte fungerar för att ytterligare betona de komiska rötterna och temat för {Capes}.

Röstskådespeleriet är också väldigt bra, soundtracket heroiskt och passande till temat, och animationerna tillräckligt grundläggande för att inte överväldiga samtidigt som detaljerna bevaras. Detta är ett bra spel, rakt igenom. Visst, det är inte fullt så finslipat som jag hade hoppats, men det betyder inte att det inte finns mycket att älska och uppskatta i världsbyggande, berättelse, karaktärsdesign och presentation. {Spitfire Interactive} har tagit vissa risker med det här spelet, alla har inte lönat sig, men det finns definitivt fortfarande mycket här att tycka om.

Google Revolutionizes Product Search with Filters: A Game Changer for E-commerce Businesses

Source by Akira Nandan

Get ready for a sea change in how online shoppers discover products! Google is piloting a new feature that directly integrates product filters within product-related searches. This means a more streamlined and personalized shopping experience for users, and a crucial update e-commerce businesses can’t afford to ignore. Simplifying the Search, Refining Results: Imagine searching for…

The post Google Revolutionizes Product Search with Filters: A Game Changer for E-commerce Businesses appeared first on Pixel Studios.

Get ready for a sea change in how online shoppers discover products! Google is piloting a new feature that directly integrates product filters within product-related searches. This means a more streamlined and personalized shopping experience for users, and a crucial update e-commerce businesses can’t afford to ignore.

Simplifying the Search, Refining Results:

Imagine searching for “shoes” and instantly being greeted with a comprehensive set of filters on the left and top of your screen. This is the magic of Google’s new feature. Users can now refine their search based on various criteria, including:

Department:

Men, women, boys, girls, and more. 

Style:

Formal, casual, athletic, and so on. 

Size:

Find the perfect fit with specific size filters. 

Brand:

Narrow down your search by your favorite brands. 

Type:

Loafers, sneakers, sandals, boots – the options are endless. 

Material:

Leather, canvas, synthetics – choose your material preference.

On mobile devices, the experience gets even more granular with a price range filter. Simply slide the bar to find shoes that fit your budget perfectly.

What This Means for Buyers:

Shopping just got easier! No more visiting one website after another to see if they have what you’re looking for. With the new filters, you can quickly narrow down your search to exactly what you want.