Saturday, December 4, 2021

Quake Receives A Fresh Update With Machine Games Providing A New Horde Mode

Quake, which was re-released for modern consoles and PC back in August, is receiving even more love from the devs at Bethesda and Wolfenstein developer Machine Games with a new mode and content added with Update 2. Out today on all platforms, Update 2 brings a host of big fixes, but most importantly, an entirely new Horde Mode. Developed by the team at Machine Games, Quakes Horde Mode pits teams of 1-4 local or online players (or bots!) against swarms of AI enemies on four brand new horde maps. Every third wave of baddies will include a boss which coughs up a silver key which can be cashed in to collect more weapons and items, bolstering your arsenal for further battles. Click here to watch embedded media Also included in Update 2 is an add-on called Honey where you'll "delve deep into the darkness to conquer a deadly plague infecting the land." It's a new Quake experience authored by senior level designer Christian Grawer from Machine Games. Quake is making its Epic Games Store debut today, as well. Pick it up there if EGS is your PC game launcher of choice. You can find the full contents of Update 2 here.  Are you going to squad up with friends and take on rounds of devious Quake hordes? Let us know in the comments!
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    Chrome for Android enables you to preview web links

    You no longer have to tap links in Chrome for Android and wonder what awaits you on the other side. 9to5Google reports that Chrome 89 for Android has received a "preview page" feature through a server-side update. Long-press a link and tap the option and you'll get a glimpse of a web link without having to leave the site you're on.  This peeking concept isn't completely new, and arguably isn't the best implementation. Safari and Microsoft Edge on iOS can already preview a link using a long press, and without having to tap a confirmation. Google's approach is slower and has been in development for more than two years. Still, this could be very helpful. You can find out if a page is worth opening without having to open a new tab, for example. You'll only have to load new pages if and when you're ready to commit.

    The most recent Google Arts & Culture exhibit enables you to explore days gone by history of electronic music

    If you have any interest at all in electronic music, you owe it to yourself to check out Google’s latest Arts & Culture exhibit. Music, Makers and Machines celebrates the history of the genre, highlighting the people, sounds and technologies that helped make electronic music what it is today. Google got help on the project from more than 50 international institutions, record labels and industry experts, including the Moogseum. [embedded content] One highlight is an entire section devoted to the early days of Dubstep. You’ll find short, written segments on artists like Burial and the subgenre's development complemented by photos and YouTube videos. You can even use Google Street View to explore the locations of long-closed but seminal clubs like Plastic People. Another compelling exhibit explores the role Black artists and musicians have played in pushing the boundaries of electronic music. That said, the highlight of the exhibit is an AR synth module that allows you to play around with five classic instruments, including the Roland CR-78 and Akai S900. Speaking of synths, Google has uploaded 3D models of some of the most iconic ones. You can check out Music, Makers and Machines online, as well as through the Google Arts & Culture app on Android and iOS.

    Microsoft's advanced cybersecurity tech comes in a large number of countries now

    With upcoming national elections in five European countries, Microsoft is making some of the more advanced features of its AccountGuard service available to additional groups and individuals at no additional cost. AccountGuard is a program Microsoft offers to people and organizations at higher risk of being targeted by hackers. Typically that has meant politicians, but near the start of the pandemic, the company made the tool available to healthcare workers and humanitarian organizations at no cost. In practice, the service provides notifications from Microsoft when the company detects an attack and guidance on how to stop it. As part of today's expansion, Microsoft is making the service's enterprise-grade identity and access management features available to all AccountGuard members in '31' democracies at no additional cost. Some of those more advanced features include multi-factor authentication and single sign-on service. The company trialed a similar expansion ahead of the 2020 US presidential election, providing political campaigns and parties access to those features. Microsoft also plans to provide up to 25,000 YubiKeys to AccountGuard customers. Depending on the size of the organization, the company will have multiple free keys on offer. The expansion is timely for a couple of reasons. With national elections coming up in the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Estonia and the Czech Republic, Microsoft hopes to protect them from disinformation campaigns. It also was only last year that Russian state-sponsored hackers pulled off the SolarWinds attack. The US government is still sorting through all the damage left by the hack, and even Microsoft wasn't left unscathed.

    Twitter tests full-size images previews in your prey on Android and iOS

    The next time you’re browsing through your Twitter timeline on your phone, you may notice a small but impactful change to how the service handles images. With a small subset of iOS and Android users, Twitter has started testing full-sized picture previews, allowing users to see timeline images in their original aspect ratio. Before starting today’s test, Twitter cropped all non-16:9 images to maintain uniformity on your timeline. Provided a tweet only includes one image and it’s in a relatively standard aspect ratio, the change will make it so that you don’t have to tap on an image to see it in its entirety. In theory, that should make the experience of browsing through your timeline more streamlined. Additionally, the company announced that it’s also testing a feature that allows people to upload 4K-quality images from their iPhone or Android device. In the “Data usage” section of the settings menu, you’ll see a toggle to enable high-quality image uploads. It might seem like a small thing for Twitter to change how it displays images, but it’s a significant one all the same. Over the years, there have been a lot of complaints about how the service handles images. Those came to a head last year when people found that Twitter’s image-cropping algorithm was focusing on white faces over black ones. “With this test, we hope to learn if this new approach is better and what changes we need to make to provide a ‘what you see is what you get’ experience for tweets with images,” said Twitter Chief Design Officer Dantley Davis of the test. Twitter hasn’t said when the cropping change could make its way to all users. As with any test, the company could decide to keep things the way they are.

    Russia is using online disinformation to trash rival COVID-19 vaccines

    Russia's internet disinformation efforts extend well beyond election interference. State Department officials talking to the Wall Street Journal say Russia is running a disinformation campaign using at least four online publications and a host of social media accounts to shake confidence in COVID-19 vaccines competing with Sputnik-V. The outlets New Eastern Outlook, News Front, Oriental Review and Rebel Inside all cast unfounded doubts on vaccines like Pfizer's, falsely calling mRNA delivery a "radical experimental technology" that was dangerous and less effective. All four sites are "directly" tied to Russian agencies like the FSB security service and SVR foreign intelligence, according to one US official. Social accounts linked to those publications have mostly been pulled, although some of their non-English accounts were active as recently as early 2021.  The State Department acknowledged the conclusions in a statement to the WSJ, but didn't supply direct evidence linking the sites to the Russian government. This was a "joint interagency" finding that Russia bore "direct responsibility" for spreading falsehoods, the representative said. Russia denied the allegations in its own response, but it also has a long history of denying misinformation and hacking campaigns despite strong evidence. Russian leaders have a strong incentive to attack rival vaccines. The country is clearly hoping to boost sales of Sputnik-V, but it's also believed to be using the vaccine to exert influence worldwide. A country willing to buy these shots might be receptive to other Russian deals, for example. There's not much the US can do to shut down the sites themselves when they're foreign-owned and operated. Nonetheless, the findings could easily increase pressure on the US government and social networks to crack down on vaccine misinformation. Much like conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19, the bogus vaccine claims could be genuinely dangerous, leading people to skip life-saving shots or even attack agencies distributing and promoting vaccinations.

    Xbox test brings Microsoft's Chromium-based Edge browser to consoles

    You might finally have a good reason to use the web browser on your console for more than the bare necessities. The Verge reports that Microsoft has started testing a version of its Chromium-based Edge browser on the Xbox One and Series X/S. Participate in the Alpha Skip-Ahead testing ring and you'll get a web experience that's more in line with the modern era, including better compatibility and syncing with Edge across multiple platforms. This version is unsurprisingly buggy and doesn't include mouse or keyboard support. And while this theoretically enables access to Google Stadia, we wouldn't count on reliable access to that or other intensive web apps just yet. It may take a while before there's a more polished version of the new Edge for Xbox. When it is ready, though, the new browser could make a better case for buying an Xbox if web surfing matters to you. Right now, the PlayStation 5 doesn't even have an easily accessible web browser (you have to rely on tricks to use it at all). While that could change, a Chromium-based Xbox browser could give Microsoft a comfortable head start.

    Facebook investigated over &#039 reportedly;systemic' racism in hiring

    Facebook has publicly committed to fighting racism, but there are concerns that isn't translating to its recruitment practices. Reuters sources say the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is investigating possible "systemic" racism in Facebook's hiring and job promotions. Facebook program manager Oscar Veneszee Jr. and four candidates have reportedly accused the social network of discriminating against Black applicants and staff through subjective evaluations and pushing racial stereotypes. Three of the people brought the case in July 2020, with a fourth joining in December. The EEOC tapped investigators for systemic cases by August 2020, but they've only received briefings from both sides of the case over the past four months. While the full extent of the alleged violations isn't clear, one of the policies in dispute stems from hiring bonuses. The company hands out up to $5,000 in bonuses if a referred candidate is hired, but those referrals tended to reflect the existing employee demographics and disadvantage Black applicants (who make up 3.9 percent of US employees as of last June). There are no guarantees the EEOC investigation will lead to formal action. The Commission declined to comment, but Facebook said it took discrimination accusations "seriously" and investigated "every case." This isn't the first time Facebook's hiring has come under fire. In 2017, a Bloomberg report pointed out that a handful of executives typically made final hiring decisions and tended to use metrics that favored culturally similar candidates, such as people endorsed by existing staff or those who went to certain schools. Facebook maintained that it had diverse hiring teams that brought in candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, but its incentive system was having problems at the time. If the allegations hold up, they'll suggest that some of those years-old complaints still persist. An EEOC determination could lead to reforms, even if it's just through public pressure.

    iCloud locked out a user over her last name allegedly

    iCloud has had the occasional service issue, but its latest problem appears to be highly... specific. Actor and author Rachel True claims iCloud has effectively locked her out of her account due to the way her last name was written. Reportedly, her Mac thought lower-case "true" was a Boolean (true or false) flag, leading the iCloud software on the computer to seize up. The problem has persisted for over six months, she said. True said she'd spent hours talking to customer service, and that Apple hadn't stopped charging her for service. She could switch to the free tier, although she'd also lose most of her online storage if she did.  We've asked Apple for comment. This is a rare flaw if it works as described. Even if you share the last name True (or False, for that matter), you'd have to type it a specific way to reproduce the problem. Still, it raises the question of how MacOS could mistake a name for a software flag in the first place. At least it doesn't appear to respond to direct commands — though you might want to get a name change if your surname is "rm rf," just to be on the safe side. Can get your coders to free my last name from icloud jail?Been locked out for 6+ months because of an uncapitalized t in TRUE, my surname but also a computer command.Now that I a layman have explained problem to you a giant computer company, could u [email protected] @AppleSupport https://t.co/TSEjUU1nXF — Rachel True (@RachelTrue) March 6, 2021

    Tesla ditches pushes and forums fans to take political action with Engage

    Tesla has created a new website for its fans, one mainly designed to spur them to political action on its behalf. Dubbed Tesla Engage, it was spotted by CNBC and Electrek. The company says it made the platform “to create a digital home base for all of our work, and make it easier for Tesla community members to learn what's top of mind for us, take meaningful action, and stay in the loop.” So far, Tesla is pushing a handful of causes. One calls on people to donate to disaster relief charities in Texas after the unprecedented winter storms that left much of the state without electricity. Texas, it should be noted, is home to its upcoming Austin Gigafactory, as well as Space X's facilities in Boca Chica. Yet another post urges people who live in Nebraska to call state legislators in support of LB 633 — a bill that, if passed, would allow the company to sell its cars to customers there directly. With the launch of Engage, the automaker is also winding down its official forums. On March 15th, they’ll be transitioned to read-only. At the moment, only the company can publish new posts on Engage. But as a customer, you can create a profile and comment on its posts, as well as earn likes for your replies and follow other people. All of that makes Tesla Engage not a one-to-one copy of the outgoing forums.

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