All posts by webmaster

Breath of the Wild players are doing bread baking speedruns – Polygon

Beating The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as quickly as possible? Boring — we’ve seen that speedrun before. Nowadays, the Speedy Gonzaleses competing within BOTW are attempting more obscure and strange runs, like the one where you see how fast you can go home and die, or the one where you race to a wedding. But the hottest speedrun of late has to be bread%, a silly category that has seen a handful of new submissions for its leaderboard in mid-January.

The goal is simple: get the ingredients to make a loaf of bread, and cook them. As is customary in any type of BOTW speedrun, accomplishing this feat involves clipping through portions of the map, using the whistling mechanic to move faster, and of course, a shirtless Link. The current high score clocks in at 19:44:700, a time held by speedrunner Xeryph. In the video above, you can watch as Link shield surfs over frosty plains to gather the necessary powers to leave the initial Great Plateau area. There are plenty of “bullet time bounces,” which Link uses to gain massive air via Bokoblins, along with the trick of pulling out weapons while falling to dampen damage.

From there, Link catapults himself to another portion of the map, near the Tabantha Frontier, where he immediately starts chopping down grass. The goal is to find wheat, which drops randomly — apparently, this portion of the jokey speedrun can be improved, as Xeryph notes in the YouTube description that the wheat RNG is “bad.”

It’s unclear if this speedrun category will have legs in the long term, but for now I just appreciate that we’re paying more attention to the underrated cooking portions of Breath of the Wild. Xeryph also holds top records for the rake in lake category, and is number one in the world at killing Link quickly.

Elon Musk wants you to use Signal instead of Facebook — heres why, and how it works – CNET

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The Signal app encrypts all of your messages to others on the platform.


Roy Liu/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tech mogul Elon Musk — known as widely for slinging cars into the sun’s orbit as he is for advocating against COVID-19 safety measures — took to Twitter last week to slam Facebook over its latest privacy policy updates for its supposedly secure encrypted messaging app WhatsApp. Musk instead recommended users choose encrypted messaging app Signal. 

The tweet was then retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Shortly after, Signal tweeted that it was working to handle the surge of new users. 

Musk’s Twitter endorsement also incidentally led shares in the biotechnology company Signal Advance to soar, despite the fact that it is completely unrelated to Signal, which is not a publicly traded company. 

This isn’t the first time Musk has publicly sparred with Facebook over privacy concerns. In 2018, he not only had his own personal Facebook page removed, but those of his companies Tesla and SpaceX. His take on the long-fought battle between Signal and WhatsApp isn’t off-base, though. 

Both of the encrypted messaging apps have been found to have security bugs over the years that have been resolved. For years, WhatsApp has openly collected certain user data to share with parent company Facebook. Its latest policy change just expands that. Signal, on the other hand, has a history of fighting any entity that asks for your data, and adds features to further anonymize you where possible. 

Here are the basics of Signal you should know if you’re interested in using the secure messaging app.

What Signal is, and how encrypted messaging works 

Signal is a typical one-tap install app that can be found in your normal marketplaces like Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, and works just like the usual text messaging app. It’s an open source development provided free of charge by the non-profit Signal Foundation, and has been famously used for years by high-profile privacy icons like Edward Snowden.

Signal’s main function is that it can send text, video, audio and picture messages protected by end-to-end encryption, after verifying your phone number and letting you independently verify other Signal users’ identity. You can also use it to make voice and video calls, either one-to-one or with a group. For a deeper dive into the potential pitfalls and limitations of encrypted messaging apps, CNET’s Laura Hautala’s explainer is a life-saver. But for our purposes, the key to Signal is encryption.

Despite the buzz around the term, end-to-end encryption is simple: Unlike normal SMS messaging apps, it garbles up your messages before sending them, and only ungarbles them for the verified recipient. This prevents law enforcement, your mobile carrier and other snooping entities from being able to read the contents of your messages even when they intercept them (which happens more often than you might think). 

When it comes to privacy it’s hard to beat Signal’s offer. It doesn’t store your user data. And beyond its encryption prowess, it gives you extended, onscreen privacy options, including app-specific locks, blank notification pop-ups, face-blurring anti-surveillance tools, and disappearing messages. Occasional bugs have proven that the tech is far from bulletproof, of course, but the overall arc of Signal’s reputation and results have kept it at the top of every privacy-savvy person’s list of identity protection tools. 

For years, the core privacy challenge for Signal lay not in its technology but in its wider adoption. Sending an encrypted Signal message is great, but if your recipient isn’t using Signal, then your privacy may be nil. Think of it like the herd immunity created by vaccines, but for your messaging privacy. 

Now that Musk and Dorsey’s endorsements have sent a surge of users to get a privacy booster shot, however, that challenge may be a thing of the past. 


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Bloodstained goes old school with new classic mode – Engadget

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is taking its Castlevania inspirations to another level with its new Classic Mode. You’ll only have a Sword-whip with which to fend off enemies as you guide Miriam though a castle, including five stages and sub-bosses, on her way to battle the big bad, Gebel. If you manage to complete Classic Mode, which has three difficulty settings, the game will grade you on your time, score and death count.

Classic Mode doesn’t adopt a full 8-bit aesthetic — the graphics shown off in the trailer aren’t exactly pixelated. However, the interface certainly has an old-school vibe and the core weapon is clearly a take on Castlevania’s Whip Sword.

ASUS CES Showcase Is A Free Steam Game – Kotaku

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Screenshot: ASUS / Kotaku

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show is a completely online affair. Gaming hardware maker ASUS takes the show’s digital format to the extreme with ROG Citadel XV, a free download on Steam that’s one (small) part first-person shooter, one part fancy virtual hardware showroom.

ROG stands for Republic of Gamers, ASUS’ fancy gaming brand, as seen on laptops, desktops, video cards, monitors, graphics cards, motherboards, and more. ROG Citadel XV is a high-tech base of operations for this fictional organization, of which the player is an operative. The game begins with the player waking up in their quarters, where a cheeky robot named Omni greets them and offers to take them on a tour.

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Screenshot: ASUS / Kotaku

The tour leads the player to a virtual showroom, where ASUS’ 2021 hardware lineup is on display. Hardware like the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE, an intriguing new gaming laptop with a secondary display that can be lifted to open up a hidden air intake to promote cooling. I learned about the Zephyrus Duo 15 by walking up to it in the game’s showroom and clicking on it.

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Screenshot: ASUS / Kotaku

Each product in the showroom gets its own highly-detailed 3D model, with specs and details on the left and interactive items on the right. Click on the keyboard switch factoid on the left of the ROG Claymore II keyboard and the keycaps on the virtual board fly off, showing off the sweet optical switches beneath.

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Screenshot: ASUS / Kotaku

Other than exploring and clicking about for secrets, there’s not a lot of actual gaming in ROG Citadel XV. There is a shooting range, complete with online leaderboards, but there’s only one usable gun and it’s very rudimentary.

He highly recommend pick up.

He highly recommend pick up.
Screenshot: ASUS / Kotaku

Check out the video below for a quick commentary-free tour of the Citadel, including a quick look at the shooting gallery.

It is advertising, of course. ROG Citadel XV’s main reason for existence is to sell ASUS stuff. But damn, what an engaging way to interact with the company’s CES 2021 lineup. Give me this over a boring press release or web catalog any day.

How to Turn on Rings New End-to-End Encryption – Lifehacker

Ring just added end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to a select number of its smarthome cameras, protecting videos recorded by your Ring devices with an extra layer of security. This still doesn’t make us thrilled about Ring devices, exactly, given all the issues the platform has experienced, but it’s a feature worth knowing about if you’re already using a Ring doorbell or camera.

Ring videos are encrypted while they’re uploaded to Ring’s cloud servers, but this new feature secures them with an additional AES 128-bit encryption layer that can only be decrypted and watched on a mobile device enrolled in Ring’s E2EE program. (You can read more about Ring’s E2EE policy in a recently published white paper on the feature.)

E2EE can stop outsiders from intercepting and viewing videos while they’re being recorded or sent to your devices; not even Ring will be able to decrypt them. However, Ring’s E2EE also disables a handful of features on a user’s end, including motion verification and the ability to watch Ring camera live feeds on an Amazon Echo Show or Fire TV device. Your recorded videos will be more secure, but you’ll lose out on real-time viewing and cloud-based monitoring features that may be as important as the extra encryption layer E2EE adds.

If you’re cool with the tradeoffs, turning on Ring’s new E2EE is easy—as long as you have the right hardware. E2EE is only available on a handful of devices at launch:

  • Video Doorbell Pro
  • Video Doorbell Elite
  • Floodlight Cam
  • Indoor Cam
  • Spotlight Cam Wired
  • Spotlight Cam Mount
  • Stick Up Cam Plug In
  • Stick Up Cam Elite

Further support may be added in the future, but for now, you’ll need one of those devices to use E2EE. You’ll also need the latest version of the Ring app on any Android or iOS device you want to enroll. If you meet those requirements, you can turn on E2EE in the Ring app:

  1. Open the Ring app.
  2. Go to Control Center > Video Encryption > Advanced Settings.
  3. Select “Video End-to-End Encryption.”
  4. Tap the slider to toggle the feature on, then tap “Get Started.”
  5. Follow the in-app instructions to enroll your account, mobile devices, and Ring cameras in End-To-End Encryption.
  6. You can disable E2EE at any time by toggling off the “Video End-to-End Encyrption” slider.

You’ll be asked to generate a password during setup—don’t lose this! It cannot be recovered and any encrypted videos you have will be lost. You’ll have to start over with another mobile device to use E2EE again.

Grand opening of Japans Super Nintendo World delayed with less than a month to go – Fox News

It’s time to hit the reset button.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, theme parks across the world have had to close, alter plans, and in some cases, close all over again. And now, a new theme park in Japan, which was set to open next month, has just had its February opening delayed due to a surge in local cases.

Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan

Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan
(iStock)

The opening of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, originally scheduled for Feb. 4, will now be delayed indefinitely, Bloomberg reports. The news comes after Japan recently expanded its state of emergency to include the Osaka prefecture where the park is located.

The state of emergency will be in effect until at least February 7th.

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A new opening date has not been set yet and organizers are reportedly waiting for the state of emergency to be lifted before deciding on one.

Osaka's Super Nintendo World was originally scheduled to open in summer 2020 before being pushed to Feb. 2021.

Osaka’s Super Nintendo World was originally scheduled to open in summer 2020 before being pushed to Feb. 2021.
(Universal Studios Japan)

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Just days ago, Universal Studios Japan had launched a virtual tour of the new theme park in anticipation of its now-delayed opening. The tour begins by showing users an area of the park based on Bowser’s castle from the popular Super Mario Bros. franchise.

The attractions in the theme park are based on some of Nintendo’s most popular properties, with an apparent emphasis on the company’s mascot, Super Mario. Rides will allow guests to recreate experiences from games like “Mario Kart” and “Yoshi’s Adventure.”

The park will also reportedly feature interactive areas where guests can purchase special bands that allow them to collect virtual coins, stamps and other video game-inspired power-ups.

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Universal Studios is also planning on opening a Super Nintendo World at its Florida location in Orlando.

Fox News’ Ann W. Schmidt contributed to this report.

Netflix Allegedly Testing Spatial Audio Support for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max – Mac Rumors

Netflix is working on adding support for the spatial audio feature built into the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max, according to a report from French site iPhoneSoft.

spatial audio netflix

Image via iPhoneSoft


The site says that it spoke to an unnamed Netflix employee in the United States who said that support for spatial audio is in the works.

The rumor has not yet been confirmed by another source as of yet, but iPhoneSoft says that the feature is set to launch in the spring with a “small catalog” of titles to begin with.

Spatial audio is an ‌AirPods Pro‌ and ‌AirPods Max‌ feature that brings movie theater-like sound to Apple’s earbuds and headphones, making audio sound three dimensional. Spatial audio uses the gyroscope and accelerometer in the ‌‌AirPods Pro‌‌ and iPhone to track the motion of your head and your ‌‌iPhone‌‌’s position, comparing the motion data and then remapping the sound field so that it stays anchored to your device even as your head moves around.

It is a feature that works with the ‌iPhone‌ and the iPad, so if Netflix is indeed working on support, it would be limited to Netflix titles viewed on one of Apple’s compatible iPhones or tablets.

CES 2021: It’s time to get excited about ASUS Chromebooks again [VIDEO] – Chrome Unboxed

If we look back over the past few years, ASUS has had a notable presence in the Chromebook world. From standout devices like the original ASUS Chromebook Flip C100 to the fan-favorite Flip C302, the company has continued making Chromebooks that users love and enjoy using. The follow up to the C302 – the Flip C434 – was particularly interesting as it took nearly two years to unveil and really pushed things forward with a larger screen, tiny bezels, and a thin/solid frame that was a part of the overall maturation of the Chromebook platform. Notable devices that came out around that time were the Dell Inspiron 14 Chromebook, the Lenovo Yoga C630, and the HP x360 14.

When 2020 arrived and we rolled out to Las Vegas for CES, we were excited to see what ASUS’ upgrade to the well-received Flip C434 was going to be, and while it was nice on the showroom floor, our review time with this Chromebook was far from exemplary. In fact, I was almost depressed by how aggravated I was with the Flip C436 after using it for just a short time. With a high starting price, a mediocre screen, a hard-to-see keyboard, and a flimsy feel, this Chromebook was flat-out upstaged by what Samsung brought to the same show that year in the original Galaxy Chromebook.

Turning of the tide

But this year, that all looks to have changed. While there were a few hiccups in the PR cycle that had us believing there would be no new ASUS Chromebooks at CES 2021, ASUS was actually readying an announcement of not just a single new Chromebook, but a small new family of them. We laid out the specs, photos and details of the new ASUS Chromebook CX9, Flip C536 and Flip CM5 in a previous post, but there’s just more to the story than spec sheets and photos.

Simply put, it feels like ASUS is back. Back to making sharp, attractive devices, back to hitting the right strides on the spec sheet, and back to building Chromebooks that I think a ton of people are going to love. Between the three, there should be options to fit multiple budgets, screens that look great with their smaller bezels, and build materials that not only are attractive, but are made to feel great too. The fact that they call attention to the keyboard deck on both the Flip C536 and Flip CM5 tells me that they are paying attention to the feel of these Chromebooks. The fact that they included the substantial ergonomic lift in the Chromebook CX9 that you see in only high-end ASUS laptops tells me they are taking Chrome OS and Chromebooks that much more seriously.

While the Flip CM5 and Flip C536 will likely come in as mid-range Chromebooks (with higher spec options), the Chromebook CX9 will be an absolute beast for power users and creative professionals. Apart from not flipping into a tablet orientation, this device looks to nail everything from looks to features to portability. At only 2.2 pounds, it will be the lightest 14-inch Chromebook ever made and will come packing all you need for massive productivity. 11th-gen Intel processors with tons of RAM and storage (up to 2TB in some models) will marry with the 400-nit display, backlit keyboard and Thunderbold 4 for the ultimate in flexibility and power. It will likely be expensive, but it will be a beast, too.

Instead of only putting that device onto the market, though, ASUS has really presented a rounded offering this year. With AMD processors on board, the Flip CM5 will likely be the most affordable of the group, and I could see models of this Chromebook showing up for under $500 as the starting price. Sure, the higher-end configs with more RAM and storage will go up and I could see the CX9 being one of the most expensive Chromebooks ever at the top trim, but that’s the beauty of it. With all these devices and all their varying options, there’s bound to be a device and config to meet most users’ needs.

Frankly, I’m shocked at all that ASUS is doing in the Chromebook space this year, and I’m excited to see these devices and get them in hand. We have a bit to wait for the CX9 as it is slated for a Q2 release, but we’ll be seeing the Flip C536 before too long with its Q1 release schedule. As a start to the Tiger Lake Chromebook era, I don’t think I could have asked for much more from one company. Now, about that Acer device that Intel teased in their keynote…


Blizzard launches Battle.net 2.0 – VentureBeat

Blizzard Entertainment has released the biggest update to its online platform, Battle.net, “in years.”

Battle.net has been Blizzard’s internet portal for its games since the 1996 launch of Diablo. Since then, it has also become a launcher for every modern Blizzard game. It’s also home to a select few other Activision Blizzard games, including the recent Call of Duty titles and Destiny 2 back when Activision Blizzard was its publisher.

Blizzard has been testing this new layout for Battle.net for several months for those that have opted into the platform’s beta. Now it the default version of the launcher.

This new Battle.net adds a new layout with a larger news section and expanded social tab. It also adds new accessibility options, including navigating most of the launcher with just a keyboard. It also adds a new notifications hub that should make it easier to see messages from friends and to find out when a game or update has finished downloading.

For now, the update is rolling out in parts of North America. It will come to other regions in the coming weeks.


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