Categories
video games

People Make Games on Valve’s Gambling Problem

Valve has a gambling problem with loot boxes and items for sale on Steam. People Make Games has done an excellent job covering here in part one of this two part series interviewing the people suffering from gambling addiction due to the situation, experts on the subject, and people who worked for Valve.

As PMG discusses in the video, Valve partnered with a gambling site for their DOTA 2 competition The International which strikes me as something that is easier for them to be comfortable with when professional sports like Baseball are including gambling, scam crypto sponsors, and odds during games.

It is disgusting to watch gambling pervade and ruin every facet of modern entertainment. Not everything needs to be for profit and make money. Not everything needs to exploit someone to raise up a rarified few who are profiting on being the middlemen in the gambling ecosystem of pain.

Categories
video games

Dark Souls Remastered PC Multiplayer Servers Back Online

FromSoftware shut down the multiplayer servers for all of the Dark Souls games on Windows way back in January due to an remote code execution security exploit that was also potentially present in Elden Ring which was released in February. (Watch my complete play through of Elden Ring here!)

Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin was brought back online late last month and I was surprised to catch a patch a few hours ago for Dark Souls: Remastered on Steam for Windows that brought back online support alongside an announcement from From Software.

The passive messages and ghosts and active multiplayer pvp features of these games really help make their worlds feel less lonely and more active, so I’m incredibly happy to see the online service return. 

Categories
technology

Technology Connections with a Beginner’s Guide to Electric Cars

Technology Connections is one of my favorite channels to watch, the host has a consistently well-researched and focused take on interesting topics with a great sense of humor and understanding of translating difficult topics to something the rest of us can understand. From interesting coffee makers to (in this case) electric cars.

In this video Technology Connections goes over different types of EV chargers, who needs what, and hits lots of points I didn’t fully understand as a person who drives an electric car. What’s DC Fast Charging compared to Level 1 or Level 2 chargers? It’s not just faster, the video explains the differences about that and many other EV connections like what effects the range you’ll get out of the juice in the pack.

Categories
apple

Notes from Apple’s iPhone 14 Infomercial September 2022

Apple held its biggest event for the year today, another pre-recorded infomercial unveiling the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro MaxApple Watch Series 8, SE 2022, Apple Watch Ultra, AirPods Pro. Once again Apple also removed any pretense of concern for the public, their workers, and the press, or any sense that they understand the ongoing pandemic by inviting people to attend in-person. During the WWDC infomercial at least one member of the press got COVID on the way to California when that was also held in-person and suffered long-lasting effects despite being vaccinated. Photos of today’s in-person attendees depict plenty of people indoors in a crowded theater who aren’t wearing masks and I hope that there is not a repeat of what happened at WWDC but this is definitely how you make that happen. The entire presentation is viewable remotely, but people attending in-person may get time hands-on with the products and get to keep their jobs since the entire western world has decided that thousands of weekly deaths and long-term infections and suffering are now acceptable while any countries deciding to stop work during a pandemic are not acceptable. Death and suffering cannot hinder capital and its product launches. Workers at Apple may have access to the best testing equipment but everyone else doesn’t. Free testing programs are wrapping up left and right. But hey, here are some shiny new products!

Apple Watch Series 8

Tim Cook opened the pre-recorded infomercial with a pre-recorded collection of people who have Apple Watches and had their lives saved by them being able to access services that aren’t available to anyone who is too poor to have an Apple Watch.

Jeff Williams continued by introducing the new Series 8 Apple Watch. Deidre Caldbeck continued the introduction. As rumored, a temperature sensor is in the Series 8 Apple Watch. Caldbeck and then Sumbul Desai said this was primarily for women’s health and would detect women’s cycles retroactively. Desai continued at length to say that is very important to track cycles and said that Apple would take privacy seriously and encrypt health data end-to-end.

Continuing the depressing discussions of accidents, health, and now accidents again, Caldbeck returned to talk about a new feature called Crash Detection that would use new and upgraded motion sensors the Apple Watch Series 8 to detect car accidents.

Low Power Mode is another new feature Caldbeck introduces to extend the battery life of Series 4 and up Apple Watches.

New colors are available for the Series 8 Apple Watch, and new cheaper and more expensive bands.

Series 8 is $400 or $500 for cellular models. Orders today. September 16th delivery or general availability.

Apple Watch SE 2022

Apple Watch SE gets updated with a new design and what sounds like a plastic back case. Apple Watch SE also has almost all of the same sensors, but not quite.

Up until today Apple was still selling the Apple Watch Series 3 that won’t receive the update to WatchOS 9, coming soon. No upgrades were mentioned to the processing power of the Series 8, so most likely this is still using a variation of the same SoC that has been in place for years now. Modern Apple Watches aren’t slow, so that isn’t a huge issue, but it is worth mentioning.

$250, orders today, September 16th delivery or availability.

Apple Watch Ultra

Heavily rumored for the past month or so is this new more expensive Apple Watch Ultra that a presenter returned to say is primarily for people who do real extreme stuff like long-distance hikers. The new design is chunkier, has a more protected display, the rumored new side button in bright orange but customizable in software, a bigger crown with bigger grooves that might be easier to access, cellular by default, a bigger battery that Apple promises delivers 36 hours of battery life or 60 hours using a “coming later this fall” extended battery mode. Bigger and more speakers, better microphones. Of course it also has special bands (designed to be extra flexible for fitting over special equipment) and even a different method of attaching them so compatibility is likely out of the window. 49mm size only.

Another presenter promised that the Apple Watch Ultra would have more accurate GPS support, a special siren, and more water resistance than the other models of Apple Watch.

An obviously rich CEO of an outdoors company I’ve never heard of called Huish was introduced to talk about their special app for the Apple Watch Ultra that is designed for divers to provide them with information while diving and afterwards.

There are plenty of these kinds of special outdooring watches by Garmin and other brands.

$800. Orders available today. Delivers September 23rd.

AirPods Pro 2022

More rumors were accurate. There’s also new AirPods Pros today. New H2 chip with an “incredible upgrade to performance” and longer battery life (6 hours claimed 30% more and 6 more hours with the new case) and upgrades to the built-in speakers. iOS 16 adds personalized spatial audio features, a claim of 2x active noise cancellation performance. There’s also a new extra-small ear tip size. Transparency modes are supposed to be improved as well. The stem is still on these AirPods Pro and improved with more control features. There’s finally a speaker on the case to find the whole case using the Find My app, and a lanyard strap hole.

$250, orders on September 9th. September 23rd delivery.

iPhone 14 & iPhone 14 Plus

As rumored, a larger display option is now available but that’s the only big change this year, 6.7 inches and your good old 6.1 inch size. The Plus name returns for the larger model. As rumored, the SoC is a modified A15 chip from last year. Your performance cores, your efficiency cores, yadda yadda. Performance has been terrific for years. Still just two camera sensors on the back, but they are slightly improved. Low-light performance is said to be improved. Video stabilization, improved with Action Mode. No ProMotion on the display, that still seems to be only available for the Pro models.

As always, Apple shows off professional photography using these devices that’s out of reach for most people.

The SIM tray is gone, as rumored. E-SIM only. You won’t be able to physically move the SIM card from another device to this one or physically take it away when you want to move on. Apple claims that this will be a good security feature for if the iPhone is lost or stolen, but it will make it difficult if the iPhone is broken.

I’m glad that you don’t have to buy a “Pro” model to get a larger size.

Both 14 models also have the car crash detection feature.

Emergency SOS via Satellite is a long-rumored new service that Apple has put in place to put iPhone 14 users in touch with emergency services. Launches some time in November for US & Canada. Service is “free” for two years after buying an iPhone 14 device.

$800 for the 6.1” and $900 for the 6.7” Pre-orders on September 9th. Shipping dates are September 16th for the smaller model. October 7th for the larger model. As rumored the smaller iPhone Mini is gone.

iPhone 14 Pro & iPhone 14 Pro Max

The sensors on the front are now behind the screen in the rumored capsule shape at the top of the screen that Apple is calling the Dynamic Island instead of the notch. Apple says that animations in the operating system will expand out of the capsule area and it can also display background activities like sports scores, music, timers. The display sizes match the base iPhone 14 at 6.1” and 6.7”. The screen is supposed to be smarter about lowering the refresh rate and has the rumored always-on display to dim the screen and just show certain smaller pieces of information alongside parts of the background wallpaper when locked and not in-use.

The iPhone 14 Pro models get an A16 SoC, as rumored. The performance, both in speed and efficiency for power saving are claimed to be very good. Speed hasn’t been a problem for years but it’s gonna be fast, there is no reason to doubt that.

The iPhone 14 Pro models also get the rumored 48 megapixel camera sensor that groups pixels together (Apple calls this a “quadpixel sensor”) but usually spits out 12 megapixels in effect, just with claimed performance improvements for the resulting photos using groups of the pixels in the sensor. Ultra-wide is still 12 megapixels but otherwise improved. Flash is improved. Low-light performance is of course improved. Amusingly most of this was leaked so long ago that I listened to a podcast last week that explained in detail not only how the iPhone 14 Pro models would have the 48 megapixel camera, but also how it would process the images from the camera and still produce a 12 megapixel image.

Battery life still gets claimed “all-day battery life.”

Of course all the satellite stuff and other features of the base iPhone 14 are there.

$1000 for the 6.1″ Pro, $1100 for the 6.7″ Pro Max. Pre-orders start on September 9th, available on the 16th.

Overall

I can’t overstate just how stupid it is for these events to be pre-recorded while still gathering people indoors, in-person, mask-optional! That’s even more audaciously dumb when almost every device shown off was advertised for its supposed safety features and coated in greenwashing about the recycled parts and programs for capturing devices to recycle them. Green things need to happen at a regulatory level to lower Apple’s impact on the world and prevent COVID from spreading. The products announced today were not so exciting as to make the resulting infections of in-person attendance acceptable. I’m fortunate that I can stay home and write about this.

Almost everything matched the rumors. It’s good that the Apple Watch Series 3 is no-longer for sale but dumb as hell that Apple was still selling it until today when it won’t receive WatchOS 9. The new Ultra watch is fine, I’m glad it exists for anyone who is rich enough or professional enough to need it. As always, the professional photography and videography are, I believe, a bad way to show off the features of the upgraded camera sensors. Give me a birthday party with a cake as the sole lighting source. A selfie in a bathroom. There are a dozen ways to show off the improvements by both regular people and the (no joke) stunt camera shots where the actor and videographer are on wires.

More than anything else, however, the overall theme of the day was about expanding “you need this or you will die” from just the Apple Watch to every device. Car crash detection, heart rate sensors, temperature sensors. The entire bit is played out and expanded to a point where it is ridiculous and I was glad to see others talking about how ridiculous it is. 

Categories
software

OBS Studio 28.0 Released with HDR, Native Apple Silicon Support & Lots More

If you stream video and audio online in 2022 you’re probably using OBS Studio. It’s free and open source software to stream to Twitch, YouTube and plenty of other services that have been created and gone out of business in the decade that OBS has been around. Today OBS Studio 28.0 came out with native Apple Silicon support on Macs since 2020 with M1 and M2 chips, the start of support for HDR (mainly on Windows, unfortunately), and lots more including a major update to the appearance of OBS.

I stream every day on Twitch and using an Intel version of OBS Studio on a Mac through Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation layer for running Intel binaries on Apple Silicon has been alright, but native support for the M1 hardware in my laptop I’m on will mean OBS runs more efficiently and is potentially less likely to kick on the fans. Unfortunately, one of the biggest features for Apple Silicon users, more support for hardware-based encoding, is still waiting for macOS Ventura which won’t be out until later in the year.

OBS Studio 28.0 is free directly from the developers for Windows, macOS, and Linux,  at OBSProject.com. A lot of things changed in this release so I recommend reading the full release notes here and note that some plug-ins may need to be manually updated to support Apple Silicon. The OBS project has a guide for OBS Studio 28.0 plugin compatibility here and you may want to check for and backup installed plugins in these locations. Note that for the first few hours after this release the download link for macOS on OBSProject.com still points to the Intel (x86-64) version of OBS Studio. You may need to download the Apple Silicon (arm64) download directly from the bottom of the release notes page on GitHub.