New Video Sheds Light on Last Year’s “Alt-Right” Neo-Nazi Unite the Right Garbage

Shaun, a Patreon-backed video producer, has made this video that re-examines last year’s absolutely horrible “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville Virgina, with some new perspective gained after the postmortem analysis by an independent law firm hired by the city and reports from journalists.

The video is almost hour long, and is difficult to watch, but it is well worth your time if you’re not familiar with the most extreme examples of racist bullshit in the US.

Ultra Expensive HTC Vive Pro Out Soon

It’s $1100 for a complete set with the lighthouses, controllers, and all, or $800 if you want to reuse an original Vive setup. You get higher resolution screens, a better headstrap, headphones. Kyle Orland and Sam Machkovech reviewed it for Ars:

Despite the improvements, though, the Vive Pro still includes some of the same basic design problems of the original. The eyepiece housing (which now allows for additional room for eyeglasses, toggled by an easy button press and slider) still ends up pressed up tightly against the front of your face, creating a thick seal that traps heat and puts significant pressure on the sinuses. Any decently long VR session threatens to turn your face into a sweaty, red mess that can lead to significant steam buildup on the lenses. Worse, the front-of-face foam padding feels decidedly non-Pro. HTC has been showing this off at press events with a custom leather face cushion, and for this price, we wish they’d offered the same option as a consumer default.

There’s nothing that sounds more appealing than turning into a sweaty red mess. The resolution bump is the best part of the Vive Pro, but is it really worth paying over twice the price of the base Vive if you’re starting from scratch? Read the rest of their review.

Steam Can Finally Move Games From One Drive to Another

Time was you had to move games from one drive to another by using hacky programs that abused features of Windows’ filesystem to make virtual links from a folder on one drive to another. For Steam games that isn’t a problem anymore. Now that Steam can use multiple game library folders, maybe one for each drive, Valve have added a feature to move games between library folders.

Here’s how it works if you don’t already have a separate library folder on another drive:

  1. Click the Steam menu, and then click on Settings:1 settings
  2. Click on the Downloads tab on the left, then click on the Steam Library Folders button:2a downloads
  3. Click on the Add Library Folder button and add a new folder if you don’t have one on the drive you’d like to move the games to.2b library folders
  4. Click Close and then OK. Right-click on the game you’d like to move to another library folder, click on Properties:3 properties
  5. Click on the Local Files tab, then click on the Move Install Folder button.4 local files
  6. Finally, select the new location for the game you’d like to move, click Move Folder, and then wait:5 move install folder

An iPad Cheap for 2018

Apple announced an updated iPad Cheap today.

IPad 9 7 inch Pencil Slider 32718

Apple announced a new iPad with a bunch of backslapping about how much they love education today at their event held at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. It’s an updated version of last year’s iPad Cheap with an A10 system-on-a-chip that also works with their stylus, the Pencil. The 2018 iPad Cheap is still missing a ton from the more expensive iPad Pro line, like more modern display technology with a variable framerate. The iPad Mini still hasn’t been updated in almost 3 years despite Apple charging $400 for the iPad Mini 4 versus $330 for this new iPad Cheap.

As usual, I round numbers up to the nearest whole dollar because I don’t care for deceptive pricing.

Here’s an updated rundown of their iPad lineup:

  • 2018 iPad Cheap at 9.7
    • non-laminated (thicker) display
    • A10 processor
    • 2GB RAM
    • Supports the ($100) Apple Pencil.
    • Old ass 1st generation Touch ID.
    • 32GB ($330) or 128 GB ($430) wifi only
    • 32GB ($460) and 128GB ($560) with cellular
  • iPad Mini 4 at 7.9
    • laminated (thinner) display
    • A8 processor
    • 2GB RAM
    • 128GB ($400) wifi only
    • 128GB ($530) with cellular
  • iPad Pro at 12.9
    • laminated (thinner) display
    • Wide color gamut (for professional color accuracy and better looking photos and videos)
    • True tone (makes the screen match the color temperature of the environment like a sheet of paper would)
    • ProMotion (variable frame rate)
    • A10X processor
    • 4GB RAM
    • Smart connector
    • 64GB ($800) 256GB ($950) wifi only 512GB ($1150)
    • 64GB ($930) 256GB ($1080) and 512GB ($1280) with cellular
  • iPad Pro at 10.5
    • laminated (thinner) display
    • Wide color gamut (for professional color accuracy and better looking photos and videos)
    • True tone (makes the screen match the color temperature of the environment like a sheet of paper would)
    • ProMotion (variable frame rate)
    • A10X processor
    • 4GB RAM
    • Smart connector
    • 64GB ($650) 256GB ($800) 512GB ($1000) wifi only
    • 64GB ($780) 256GB ($930) 512GB ($1130) with cellular

Since I last revisited the table of confusing iPad decisions, Apple bumped up the price of some storage tiers.

Apple also updated their free iWork office utilities today with new features like smart annotation. Additionally, they announced other software for educators, students, and developers who want to work with the new ClassKit API.

New hardware was announced from Logitech, including a cut-down $50 version of Apple’s Pencil, called the Crayon that lacks pressure sensitivity but has a better external design for normal human beings. It appears that this device will only be sold through educational sales channels.

One good thing that Apple announced is that students and teachers get 200GB of iCloud storage as long as the Apple ID they use is managed through their organization. Regular iCloud accounts have a tiny 5GB of storage for all their photos and other data. Apple typically charges $3 per month for 200GB of iCloud storage.

Apple’s extended warranty program with accidental damage insurance was dropped in price to $70 for this iPad Cheap as well as the Mini.

Overall, I don’t think that this new iPad Cheap is at all an approachable device for many educators who are still scrounging for basic materials like paper and pencils, while their students are dealing with hunger and homelessness. The $30 discount offered for schools who want to buy this new iPad Cheap is probably meaningful with large purchases, but it won’t mean anything for the poorest schools and students.

The education theme of the event is an extension of the ongoing co-option of public resources by private businesses. Just like NASA ceding their public work and research to private industries, using expensive closed platforms for public schools is not a good look. One Apple presenter even referenced JFK’s “We Choose to go to The Moon” speech.

Apple spend a large part of the presentation advocating for the iPad as a device for creation, but also for coding software. To treat the iPad as a replacement for the modern computer in creative endeavors, or a device for coding, is especially ridiculous when you realize that you can’t ship a game or app for Apple’s app store without using a Mac. iPads don’t have Xcode.

For anyone else who wants an iPad with support for Apple’s Pencil stylus, almost as much processing power as the current Pro models, but is OK giving up enhanced display technologies and half the RAM, the 2018 iPad Cheap is a fine choice and a decent upgrade to last year’s model. It’s available today and I would expect more updates to the iPad line later this year.

Far Cry 5 is Disappointing and Available

I’ve loved Far Cry games in the past, 3 was a particular high point, but that was 6 years ago and Far Cry 4 lost me somewhere along the way. I never finished it. 5 looks to be more of the same kind of an outdoor adventure through a beautiful land that is beset upon with chaos, light RPG mechanics without the role-playing, and this time they’ve set it in Montana.

The most important difference with this game is that it once had some promise in making a statement about the current political situation. There’s a lot of things that it’d be incredible to see a game even try to talk about, but Far Cry 5 isn’t that game despite having all of the opportunity in the world to try.

Austin Walker:

Thematically, Far Cry 5 is such an inconsistent mess of ideas that there is hardly a recognizable through line at all. Instead, the game gestures towards ambiguity as if looking for a shield to save itself with.

This is a game that undeniably knows that Donald Trump is president, but cannot decide if that fact should be punchline or key plot device. When, in two different scenes, cult leaders make oblique references to “America’s leadership” or the failures of the person “who’s in charge” as proof of the American empire’s final days, the game reaches for sincere relevance. But an hour later, you’ll be recovering the notorious piss tape from a Russian spy in a pun-filled quest.

Jeff Gerstmann:

There’s probably a great story you could tell around a Christian Doomsday Prepper Cult that has you fighting them off as they prepare for the End Times by murdering everyone around them and stealing all the resources they can. That’s meat that few games even attempt to chew. But the ambitious setting doesn’t pay off in this story that seems to want to hedge every chance it gets. The end result is a story that goes nowhere, says nothing, and fails to live up to the previous settings and villains in the franchise. If you can get past that… the rest is pretty much fine if you’re up for another Far Cry game.

Far Cry 5 is up now on Steam for Windows, as well as your Xbox One or PlayStation 4. It’s also got the traditional slap in the face of $60 not being enough, and offering both Deluxe ($70) and Gold ($90) editions.

I have a stack of open-world Ubisoft games that I haven’t finished, Far Cry 5 isn’t joining them.

Lumines Remastered This May

The year is 2018 AD, new games are illegal, only old games can be endlessly remastered until nobody is interested in games anymore. Except for one game designer who would dare defy the law, Tetsuya Mizuguchi is… Tetsuya Mizuguchi!

He’s probably working on something new, as well, but I don’t really mind playing more Rez, or maybe the same Lumines in HD but without the stuff I didn’t like in the sequels.

The original Lumines is re-releasing in HD this May on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam for Windows. The version on Steam today is apparently not so hot, so look out for this remaster.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Out on iOS and Android

I've never been more excited to get pants on.

You can call it PUBG, you can call it plunkbat, but the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is out on iOS and Android. Now we know what you’re paying for when you buy the $30 Windows version on Steam, pants, and a shirt and shoes. This free-to-play-as-heck mobile PUBG doesn’t include any of those to start, you’re going to have to find them in the game or in the exploitative loot boxes you get for playing it. At least if you don’t want to be an exhibitionist non-conformer, which if you do, go right ahead.

I’ve played one match and it was perfectly cromulent PUBGeeing, players are still getting used to the controls so I managed to get four small victories before losing in 16th place.

It’s out for free now on Android and iOS, it doesn’t cross-play with the Windows version at all.

YouTube Suggested Conspiracy Videos to Children

Let me check one thing, I’ve forgotten since the last time, should we let algorithms written by an advertising publisher decide what is OK or not for kids to watch? James Cook:

Search for “UFO” on YouTube Kids and you’ll mostly find videos of toys that are clearly fine for children to watch. But one of the top videos claimed to show a UFO shooting at a chemtrail, and we found several videos by prominent conspiracy theorist David Icke in the suggested videos. YouTube removed the videos from YouTube Kids after we contacted it about the issue.

One suggested video was an hours-long lecture by Icke in which he claims that aliens built the pyramids, that the planet is run by reptile-human hybrids, that Freemasons engage in human sacrifice, that the assassination of President Kennedy was planned by the US government, and that humans would evolve in 2012.

Ah, that would be a “no” on the algorithms by an advertising publisher then. I’ve never had more love for the PBS Kids apps and video programming.

60,000 People Probably Losing Their Jobs as Toys ‘R’ Us Shuts Down

Paul Ziobro and Lillian Rizzo:

Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. told employees Wednesday the struggling big-box retailer will sell or close all its U.S. stores, a collapse that threatens up to 33,000 American jobs in the coming months.

[…]

Outside the U.S., the chain has another roughly 800 stores. Altogether, court papers show Toys “R” Us has roughly 1,600 stores globally, with approximately 60,000 employees. That number reaches more than 100,000 during peak holiday season.

This place that I think almost everyone has good memories of was driven to waste by vultures who burdened it with debt. They bought Toys ‘r’ Us with loaned cash and put that debt onto the company after the purchase. I didn’t even know you could do that until I read about it last year, but this story from Marielle Segarra explains it best:

And to really get what happened with Toys R Us, you need to understand how these private equity purchases work. They rely on something called a leveraged buyout.

“Leverage just means you’re using lots of debt,” said Eileen Appelbaum, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

If a private equity firm wants to buy a company, it’ll put up a small portion of the money. Then it’ll go to the bank and borrow the rest.

The key? “They put the debt on the company they buy,” Appelbaum said.

That’s what they did to Toys “R” Us in 2004. Three businesses bought the company, loaded it up with debt, the workers there have been paying it off ever since. Jeff Spross:

Whatever magic Bain, KKR, and Vornado were supposed to work never materialized. From the purchase in 2004 through 2016, the company’s sales never rose much above $11 billion. They actually fell from $13.5 billion in 2013 back to $11.5 billion in 2017.

On its own, that shouldn’t have been catastrophic. The problem was the massive financial albatross the leveraged buyout left around Toys ‘R’ Us’ neck. Just before the buyout, the company had $2.2 billion in cash and cash-equivalents. By 2017, its stockpile had shriveled to $301 million, even as its debt burden ballooned from $2.3 billion to $5.2 billion. Meanwhile, Toys ‘R’ Us was paying $425 million to $517 million in interest every year.

The employees will probably lose their jobs, the toy makers might not have a good place to get toys in front of people anymore and could go out of business and that could end up being a lot more people losing their jobs for no good reason, just because the vultures swooped in to get a turnaround that wasn’t achievable while paying off the debt.

The CEO, David Brandon, makes bank anyway. JC Reindl:

Brandon enjoyed a total $11.25 million CEO compensation package in 2017, a year in which Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid more than $5 billion in debt. That pay package included Brandon’s $2.8 million retention bonus, paid five days before the retailer’s Sept. 19 bankruptcy filing, to help with continuity through the process.

I’ve got a toy suggestion, it’s not my idea, but I think that Brandon and the executive teams at Bain and the others might want to try it out. Could save any future company they want to work with.

There’s a Slightly Better Raspberry Pi 3 Available

The Raspberry Pi single-board computer has a slight update in the form of the Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+. It has the same processor, but this new + model is clocked 200 Mhz faster at 1.4 Ghz, unless it gets too warm in which case it’ll throttle back down to regular Model 3 speeds of 1.2 Ghz. The wireless networking is improved, as well as the wired ethernet which is supposed to be 2-3 times as fast as the old 3. This model also has a new add-on board in the pipeline for power-over-ethernet. It’s still $35, just like the old Model 3, which is being sold at the same price, so if you’re buying one, make sure to get the B+.

The official Raspberry Pi blog has some charts and graphs with more details on the 3 B+.