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Game

‘Sayonara Wild Hearts’ studio Simogo’s next game is an atmospheric murder mystery

 developer has revealed its next game and the eclectic studio is again moving in a different direction. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a non-linear adventure title that will land on Nintendo Switch and Steam in 2023.

Simogo and publisher announced the game during today’s . The first trailer depicts a dark, atmospheric world in which you’ll need to solve puzzles to get to the bottom of a murder mystery. While the clip is light on story, there are a few peeks at the titular laser eyes.

The trailer description notes that you’ll play as a woman who’s looking for answers in a central European manor (or possibly a hotel or museum). Players will need to pay attention to what’s going on, and think about numbers, patterns and puzzles that they find. Annapurna these could be part of a “macabre game” or just a “simple treasure hunt.”

Simogo shook up the gameplay of Sayonara Wild Hearts from level to level and it looks like it’s adopting a similar approach here. The trailer suggests there will be a first-person shooter element, for instance. The visuals will vary too, from lo-fi PS1-era environments and character models to wireframe figures. It looks delightfully strange.

Sayonara Wild Hearts is nearly perfect and of all time. So, I’m really looking forward to checking out Lorelei and the Laser Eyes next year. Here’s hoping for more details during the Annapurna Interactive Showcase, which takes place .

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Security

Chrome password manager update will let you manually add credentials

Google is updating its built-in password manager for Chrome and Android as it attempts to position it as an alternative to standalone services offered by 1Password and Bitwarden, the company announced today. Most significant is the ability to manually add passwords to the service, rather than simply relying on Chrome’s offer to save credentials when you use them. There had previously been signs of this feature on Chrome on desktop, but now Google says it’s making it available across “all platforms.”

The search giant also says it’s working to unify the design of the password manager between Chrome and Android with “a simplified and unified management experience” and says this includes a feature that will automatically group multiple passwords used on the same site. On Android, Google says a new “Touch-to-Login” feature lets users enter their credentials via an overlay at the bottom of the screen “to make logging in even quicker.”

Google says Touch-to-Login speeds up the process.
Image: Google

Google’s password manager already includes the ability to check for weak and reused passwords (and automatically change them on Android) and autofill saved passwords across apps outside of Chrome on iOS. Google says it’s continuing to invest in its password manager to support emerging technologies like passwordless passkeys (which Apple also intends to bring to Safari).

Despite offering a feature set that’s increasingly comparable to standalone third-party password managers, Google seems reluctant to spin its password manager out into a standalone app. But, as of this month, 9to5Google reports that it’s possible to put a shortcut to Google’s password manager directly on your Android homescreen — a big improvement over having to dig through your Android settings to find it.

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Computing

Apple’s new M2 MacBook Pro struggles under pressure

Apple’s M2 chip found in the 13-inch MacBook Pro might struggle under pressure, found Vadim Yuryev of Max Tech on YouTube. The YouTuber tested the new MacBook Pro in order to see how it deals with extremely resource-heavy tasks.

This resulted in severe throttling upon hitting high temperatures, highlighting that Apple’s design choices for the laptop might not be ideal in terms of cooling. But is this really a big deal for the intended userbase of the new MacBook Pro?

We discovered SEVERE thermal throttling with Apple's new M2 MacBook Pro, proving that it needs a BETTER cooling system with two fans instead of one.
We exported 8K Canon RAW and saw temps hit 108°C, more than we've ever seen on a Mac, even an Intel Mac.
But it gets worse…
1/7 pic.twitter.com/JFCN7qJQbf

— Vadim Yuryev (@VadimYuryev) June 29, 2022

It seems that Max Tech managed to find where the limits lie for Apple’s new M2-based 13-inch MacBook Pro. During a stress test, the notebook consistently hit temperatures as high as 108 degrees Celsius, resulting in severe processor throttling and, as a result, a drastic drop in performance. According to Yuryev, that’s a higher temperature than the YouTube channel had ever seen on a Mac, including Intel Macs.

Thermal throttling can be a problem in laptops and PCs alike when (among other reasons) the cooling is just not adequate for the task at hand. That’s precisely why the M2 MacBook Pro might be in a bit of trouble — it only has one fan as opposed to the two found in the M1 MacBook Pro, as showcased in a different Max Tech video. In this test, the single fan proves to be inadequate for the workload the M2 MacBook Pro was faced with — and that’s despite running at the maximum speed of 7200RPM the whole time.

Yuryev reported that in a split second, the clock speeds on the M2 would drop from 3200MHz to 1894MHz on the performance cores and from 2228MHz to 1444MHz on the efficiency cores. The GPU cores saw a staggering drop, too, declining from 1393MHz to 289MHz. This brought the package power down from 29.46 watts to just 7.31 watts. As Yuryev notes, this happened in waves: The performance would drop along with the temperature, and when the MacBook Pro was able to stabilize at 84 degrees Celsius, it started ramping up the clock speeds all over again.

It’s certainly worrying to see the M2 MacBook Pro struggle to keep things cool, and such significant drops in clock speeds are not to be ignored. However, Max Tech’s workload of choice also can’t be overlooked — the YouTuber used the 13-inch MacBook Pro for exporting 8K RAW footage. Yuryev himself admits that this is the most resource-heavy test Max Tech uses to test the true limits of a computer. The question is, just how often are users going to try to do the same on a $1,299 notebook? Probably not very often.

Paolo Conversano/Unsplash

Even though most users won’t require that kind of power from their new 13-inch MacBook Pro, it’s still bothersome that it can heat up to 108 degrees Celsius and that this results in severe throttling. Whether you should buy it largely depends on the kind of workloads you’re planning to engage in. It can probably handle all manner of computing, but as shown by the test, the extremes appear to be reserved for high-end Macs.

Apple’s recently released 13-inch MacBook Pro is the only device that’s currently out and sporting the M2 chip. The company also has a MacBook Air in the works, but the pre-orders have yet to be opened. That device is rumored to not have a fan at all, so the throttling issues might carry over to the upcoming M2 MacBook Air.

As for the M2 MacBook Pro, it seems to be having a bit of a rough start. Some reports pointed toward poor performance in various multitasking apps that are on the resource-heavy side, such as Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and Lightroom. Other sources, including Max Tech, reported that the read and write speeds on the SSD in the 256GB version of the M2 MacBook Pro are much worse than those of its M1 predecessor. However, this problem only seems to apply to the entry-level version, and users who choose the option with more storage don’t suffer from this issue. It’s most likely linked to the fact that when all of the 8GB of Apple Unified memory has been used up, the M2 MacBook Pro dips into the 256GB reserve on the SSD and uses it as virtual memory.

Given the relatively warm reception of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, it’s a shame to see that the more budget-friendly version doesn’t fare quite as well. However, as Apple unveils more versions of the M2 chip (and that will likely happen soon enough), we might be more impressed by the devices that follow rather than the MacBook Pro that debuted the M2.

Editors’ Choice




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Security

Hackers are hijacking Wi-Fi routers with zuoRAT malware

As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about, a new report finds hackers are targeting home Wi-Fi routers to gain access to all your connected devices.

The report comes from Black Lotus Lab, a security division of Lumen Technologies. The report details several observed real-world attacks on small home/home office (SOHO) routers since 2020 when millions of people began working from home at the start of the COVID 19 pandemic.

According to Black Lotus Lab, the attackers use Remote Access Trojans (RATs) to hijack a home’s router. The trojans use a new malware strain called zuoRAT to gain access and then deploy inside the router. Once deployed, the RATs allow attackers to upload and download files to all the connected devices on the home or office network.

“The rapid shift to remote work in spring of 2020 presented a fresh opportunity for threat actors to subvert traditional defense-in-depth protections by targeting the weakest points of the new network perimeter — small office/home office (SOHO) routers.” Lumen Technologies said in a blog post. “Actors can leverage SOHO router access to maintain a low-detection presence on the target network.”

ZuoRAT is resistant to attempts to sandbox it for further study. It attempts to contact several public servers when it first deploys. If it doesn’t receive any response, it assumes it has been sandboxed and deletes itself.

The malware is incredibly sophisticated, and Lumen Technologies believes it may originate from a nation-state actor, not rogue hackers. This means a government with a lot of resources could be targeting SOHO routers in North America and Europe.

ZuoRAT gains remote access to SOHO routers. It is constantly scanning networks for vulnerable routers and attacks if one is located.

Once the trojans are in, there’s no limit to the damage they can do. So far, they’ve been content with stealing data — personal identifiable information (PII), financial information, and normally secure business or corporate information. However, the ability is there for threat actors to deploy other malware once they’ve gained access.

Blue Lotus Lab was able to trace one of the zuoRAT viruses to servers in China. Other than that, little is known about the origins of the malware.

Most common household routers seem to be vulnerable, including Cisco, Netgear, and ASUS.  The best way to protect against a zuoRAT infection is to regularly reboot your home router. The virus cannot survive a reboot, which wipes the router and restores it to its factory settings.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Niantic is making an augmented reality basketball game with the NBA

Pokémon Go developer Niantic is creating a new augmented reality mobile game with more big-name partners: the NBA and its players’ association. NBA All-World will task you with exploring your neighborhood to find some of the league’s stars such as Chris Paul, Steph Curry and James Harden. You can challenge and compete against virtual players in mini-games like three-point contests before recruiting them to your team.

NBA All-World players will be able to deck out their NBA stars in custom apparel. Polygon notes that you can also improve your squad with items you find out in the wild at places such as sporting goods stores and convenience stores. You’ll have the chance to battle others in one-on-one matches with swipe-based commands too. These encounters will be available at various locations, including real-life basketball courts.

Following Pokémon Go and Pikmin Bloom, Niantic has a few other games in the works. Transformers: Heavy Metal is in beta, but it’s only available in a few countries for now. The same goes for Peridot, a modern AR take on Tamagotchi.

It’s not yet clear exactly when Niantic will release NBA All-World, but the game will soon enter a soft launch period. You can sign up for updates if you’re interested.

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Computing

This 3-in-1 webcam claims to fix the eye contact problem

Eye contact is one of the main reasons video calls don’t feel as natural as real-life conversations. We’ve seen attempts to resolve the issue, such as Dell’s magnetic Concept Pari camera, but a new Kickstarter project has a new approach: A retractable camera that dangles down in front of your screen.

Created by a Hong Kong-based brand called MetaAxon, the “3-in-1” Meca webcam is featured on Kickstarter and has already raised $335,454 with 361 backers of the project.

The design and functionality of the Meca webcam are simple; the 3-in-1 peripheral features an adjustable camera, a microphone, and a ring light with scales for brightness and color temperature. These aspects are intended to help you keep a consistent presence during a video conference.

The primary feature of the Meca webcam, however, is its retractable camera. It can be pulled down from a 1.5mm cable at the base of the system to be level with your face. This configuration allows you to look directly into the camera and avoid the issues that come with having to look up or down at a misplaced webcam. The cable is also not supposed to be disruptive to any on-screen work. MetaAxon promises lifetime functionality of the retractable cable, claiming it has been tested to work accurately over 30,000 times.

The brand provides an adhesive, which allows you to stick the camera to your screen while in a conference, and easily remove it once the meeting is over. The camera itself is 1080p, 30fps, and 70-degree FOV, which MetaAxon says is ideal for video conferencing.

The light, camera, and microphone on the Meca 3-in-1 webcam

In addition to the camera are the microphone and ring light. The omnidirectional microphone features a privacy shutter. Meanwhile, the ring light, which takes up a considerable amount of the system, can also be turned on and off manually. There is also an adjustable software setting for brightness and color temperature.

The Meca webcam supports a USB 2.0 port; however, the brand said it hopes to provide backers with an OTG-C adapter. System-wise, the webcam works with Windows and MacOS.

Prices for the Meca webcam include super early bird prices of $89 per webcam and $168 for two webcams. Early bird prices are $99 per webcam, $188 for two webcams, and $445 for five webcams.

As always, Kickstarter projects are never guaranteed, and you’re always encouraged to follow our recommended crowdfunding guidelines before shelling out any cash.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Return to Monkey Island’s first gameplay trailer is a swashbuckling trip of nostalgia

When Return to Monkey Island arrives later this year, players will finally discover the secret of Monkey Island. That’s the pitch series creator Ron Gilbert made in the game’s newest trailer, which premiered today during Nintendo’s latest Direct showcase. “My name is Guybrush Threepwood, and this is a story about the time I finally found the secret of Monkey Island,” voice actor Dominic Armato declares at the start of the clip.

As you might imagine, the trailer is full of allusions to past Monkey Island games, including some of the series’ best gags. At one point, Guybrush drifts to the floor of the Caribbean, a sign pointing to Monkey Island and noting it’s only a six-minute walk away. Good thing our hero can hold his breath for 10 minutes. 

Many fan-favorite characters also make an appearance in the clip. Among others, I spotted used ship salesman and garish dresser Stan S. Stanman locked in the brig of LeChuck’s ship. Coincidently, you can chat to Stan on Return to Monkey Island’s updated website where he explains he’s in jail for “marketing-related crimes” that may have involved selling non-fungible items.

If you missed the news in April, Return to Monkey Island marks the, well, return of Ron Gilbert to the series he created back in the late ‘80s. Gilbert wrote and directed The Secret of Monkey Island, and went to work on the second game before leaving LucasArts in 1992. Fellow Monkey Island veteran Dave Grossman is also working on the new game, which will take place after the first two games. On consoles, Return to Monkey Island will arrive first on Nintendo Switch.   

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Security

Go read this: how FAFSA got caught sending personal info to Facebook

If you applied for financial aid through Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in the US in early 2022, there’s a very good chance some personal information was provided to a platform that’s completely irrelevant to the process: Facebook.

This report from The Markup exposed that, as early as January 2022, the US Department of Education sent data from website visitors to Facebook, potentially including information submitted on forms like first and last name, country, phone number, and email address, via the “Meta Pixel” tracking pixel — even if the person didn’t have a Facebook account. The Markup also notes that this data collection began “even before the user logged in to studentaid.gov.”

When asked about this tracking, a spokesperson for the Department of Education initially denied that it was taking place, despite The Markup finding code that clearly indicates otherwise. Federal Student Aid COO Richard Cordray then fessed up, telling the publication that the data gathering was “part of a March 22 advertising campaign,” which had “inadvertently” sent the personal data to Facebook. The data-sharing feature was then turned off. Cordray also said the data “was automatically anonymized and neither FSA nor Facebook used any of it for any purpose,” without explaining how they were able to verify that.

The Markup notes that it’s unknown how much data was pulled in from students. Yet, even though these students didn’t voluntarily agree to Facebook’s privacy policy (namely, because FAFSA didn’t tell them they were being tracked), the publication says this policy allows the company can retain such data for years.

Go read the full report for all of the details and to get a better sense of just how pervasive Facebook’s tracking capabilities across the web (dubbed the “Meta Pixel”) really are.

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Computing

M2 MacBook Air will hit stores on July 15, report says

Apple’s new-look MacBook Air featuring the company’s latest M2 chip is set to go on sale on July 15, according to information obtained by MacRumors.

The report goes on to say that Apple’s updated laptop is expected to be available for pre-order on July 8, a week before it lands in stores.

The tech giant unveiled the M2 MacBook Air at its Worldwide Developers Conference at the start of June, though at the time it only said that the machine would be available some time in July.

To be clear, the July 15 date hasn’t been publicly announced by Apple. However, the Mac news site appears confident regarding the reliability of its source within the company’s retail division.

Apple

With a new ultra-slim design that ditches the Air’s distinctive wedge, an updated chip, a slightly larger 13.6-inch display, and a striking new Midnight color, Apple is expecting strong demand for the new laptop.

However, some may have been put off by the cost.

It’s fair to say that most potential buyers were hoping Apple would retain the attractive $999 price tag of the previous (and still available) M1 Air that launched in 2020, but frustratingly the company has decided to increase the cost of the most basic version of the new M2 model by $200, setting the price at $1,199.

For some, that’s a dealbreaker. The disappointing price bump even prompted one of DT’s writers to go for a more-than-capable refurbished M1 MacBook Air, saving himself around $430 in the process.

While the M2 Air does indeed look like a fabulous bit of kit, the all-new design means that interested customers may be wise to wait for the hands-on reviews to drop before making a final decision.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

‘Harvestella’ is a Square Enix farming sim with a dark twist

is moving into the farming sim world with Harvestella, which is coming to Nintendo Switch and PC on November 4th. While this is a 3D game with a distinct art style, you’ll surely recognize some elements if you’re one of the of Stardew Valley players out there. You’ll till land, sow seeds, water crops, collect items for cooking and crafting, go fishing, take care of pets, explore dungeons, slay monsters and so on.

You’ll be able to visit other towns and get to know their residents. In Nemea Town, cherry blossoms bloom all year, while Seaside Town Shatolla has a vibrant bar scene. There are multiple jobs to choose from as well, including mage, fighter and shadow walker. Each of those will offer different abilities in battle. You’ll also be able to explore some of the ocean in a submarine.

The overworld will change based on the season, but there’s a catch. Four crystals called Seaslight usually ensure there’s a stable transition between seasons. However, the game starts amid some abnormalities. Between each season is a period called the Quietus, when crops die and people are unable to go outside due to deadly dust. Even worse, these Quietus spells are lasting longer every year. You might have to do something about that.

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