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Game

‘Dune: Spice Wars’ early access adds multiplayer modes

Ever since we got our first look at during the , it has looked like one of the most promising videogame adaptions of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi series in a long time. If you’ve been playing the game in Steam early access, you can now look forward to fighting over Arrakis with your friends.

On Monday, developer Shiro Games the release of Spice Wars’ multiplayer update, allowing you and up to three other players to participate in 2v2 or free-for-all matches. If you can’t find enough friends or strangers to play with, the game will fill your match with computer opponents. As with the Spice Wars’ single-player component, you can tweak the difficulty of your AI foes and factors like map size, sandworm activity, and more.

Multiplayer support is the headline feature, but today’s update includes several other enhancements. Shiro has introduced additional in-game events and Landsraad resolutions that can change the course of your games. It has also added new regions to increase map diversity, and reworked building graphics, among other changes.

If you haven’t checked out Spice Wars yet, it’s currently . I’ve sunk about 30 hours into the game since it came out in early access back in April. So far, I can say Shiro has done a great job of creating an experience that feels authentic to the novels. 

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Game

PS5 update adds a TikTok-like editor to its game clips editor

Sony unveiled a new quick editing mode for PS5’s Share Factory Studio today that will allow users to create shortform gameplay videos with pre-set, Tik-Tok-like formats. In a , Sony explained the new editing feature — which it has deemed “Bits”— lets gamers choose a curated Bit style for their gameplay clip, or customize their footage even further with the “Quick Edit” mode. Players can expect new Bits styles to roll out every week. Bits themes will be based on special events, holidays, seasons and trending content.

“Our goal with Bits is to make it super easy and fun for PlayStation gamers to create and share short-form gameplay videos for sharing cool achievements, jokes, stunts, and any other type of eye-catching content,” the company in the official PlayStation blog.

For those who aren’t familiar, is PlayStation’s free editing app that lets players capture and edit gameplay footage right on their consoles and share to social media. The app is packed with advanced video and audio editing features, including support for HDR video and the ability to add animation, stickers, filters and voice effects. But for those who are overwhelmed by Share Factory Studio’s many options, Bits seems to be an easy way to churn out social media-friendly gameplay clips.

For a preview of what Bits looks like, check out the short trailer below.

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Computing

Vivaldi adds an email client and calendar into your browser

Vivaldi has just released an update introducing a number of useful features that are built into the browser itself.

Starting with today’s patch, the browser features a full-blown email client, as well as a calendar and feed reader. Should Vivaldi’s competition begin to worry?

Vivaldi is a smaller browser that many users may have not even heard of just yet. Seeing as the market is still dominated by Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari, some stat counters don’t even register Vivaldi and simply lump it in with other similar browsers. However, today’s update just might become the push that Vivaldi needed in order to gain a bit more interest from the internet at large.

Instead of utilizing separate email clients such as Microsoft Outlook or resorting to using Gmail and Google Calendar, Vivaldi users can now access all of these functionalities from within the browser. The feature, called Vivaldi Mail 1.0, sets out to do more than just be a built-in email client — which makes sense. After all, both Gmail and Outlook can be used through the browser, and accessing them is as easy as clicking a bookmark. That’s why Vivaldi seems eager to stand out a bit by making your emails easier to manage.

Perhaps the nicest feature provided by Vivaldi Mail is the fact that you can combine all of your email services into one, be it a Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo account. Vivaldi indexes all your emails, meaning that you can go back to them when you’re offline, and this applies even to emails you haven’t had the chance to open just yet. Vivaldi teases that it will automatically detect your mailing lists and mail threads, as well as give you the option to search through everything with ease.

Vivaldi also tackles an issue that many of us have, which is having too many email folders, resulting in a general sense of disorganization. The browser automatically sorts your mail into different views and folders. Each email can be placed in multiple views at once, so if several categories apply to one message, you’ll find it in the right folders.

Vivaldi

Users can swap between different views and toggle them on or off, so if you want to hide all the junk mail, you can. All of the views are visible by default, so you’ll likely want to go into the settings and disable a couple when you first set it up. The browser also provides configurable shortcuts that make it easier to compose a new email, reply to existing emails, and more.

Vivaldi’s calendar tool looks much the same as other calendars, but it lets you choose whether you want to use a local calendar or an online calendar. It can also be sorted into different views, allowing you to choose how much information you want to see per event. The built-in RSS feed also offers a range of customization options that should help you filter out the spam and keep the interesting news.

Today’s update certainly provides some interesting features, but will it be enough to truly put Vivaldi on the board? It might be, but Google and Microsoft can rest easy — their numbers are way too high for a smaller player like Vivaldi to quickly catch up. Be that as it may, this could be an interesting option for users who long for a more streamlined experience across many services.

Editors’ Choice




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Security

Google Chat adds warning banners to protect against phishing attacks

Google Chat has replaced Hangouts and will now display banners warning you against potential phishing and malware attacks coming from personal accounts, Google announced on Thursday. This tweak for Google Chat is the latest expansion of Google’s attempts to prevent phishing.

During its 2022 I/O developer conference, Google discussed several security measures it has implemented to enhance user safety, including warnings against potential security issues and recommendations to fix them. Google also laid out other plans for security measures, like expanded two-step verification, ad customization, and more data security.

Warning labels about suspicious links in Google Chat

Warning labels about suspicious links in Google Chat.
Image: Google

Google’s new warning banners first appeared in Gmail on Workspace accounts to point out attempts to lure someone with a link that could be used for malware, phishing, or ransomware. At the end of April, Google expanded the banners to Google Docs, warning users against suspected malicious files in several Google Workspace apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawing) no matter where they opened the link from.

This new feature is rolling out over the next couple of weeks, and it will be available for both personal Google accounts and for all Google Workspace customers.

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Game

‘Deathloop’ update adds much-needed accessibility options and a photo mode

Arcane Studios has released the third major update for Deathloop, which adds a slew of accessibility features. There’s now an accessibility category in the options menu that includes the previously introduced settings (some of which have been upgraded) in addition to the new ones.

Players will be able to adjust various gameplay elements, though some settings will be limited to the single-player mode — i.e., when you play as Colt and Julianna is controlled by AI rather than an invading human. These include slowing down the game speed, adjusting the number of reprises (or lives) you have and making the combat easier or harder. There are more user interface options as well, such as the ability to change the color, size and opacity of some text and graphical elements.

In addition, players will, at long last, be able to navigate menus using the directional buttons instead of having to use a cursor. What a concept! If you prefer to use a cursor through, you can now adjust its movement speed.

When Deathloop landed on PS5 and PC last September, it was widely acclaimed, with critics praising its well-constructed gameplay, art style, level design and story. However, accessibility advocates pointed out issues that made the game difficult for disabled players to enjoy, such as the text size, lack of a controller remapping option and low contrast. Hopefully, this update will address most, if not all, of their concerns.

“We are truly grateful to the players and the ally community who gave us so much feedback when Deathloop was released,” lead UI/UX designer Yoann Bazoge told the PlayStation Blog. “We took the time to read all of the accessibility reviews and watch the videos of players explaining why they couldn’t play Deathloop. We then worked on a document listing all of the feedback and drew up a roadmap of what the additions would be for Game Update 3.”

Meanwhile, Arcane has added another much-requested feature: photo mode. This will only be available in single-player mode and you’ll be able to use poses, filters and stickers. Players can switch between Colt and Julianna, and choose a different outfit or weapon to capture the exact shot they want.

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Security

FCC adds Kaspersky to its list of national security threats

The US Federal Communications Commission has added Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab to its list of entities that pose an “unacceptable risk to US national security,” according to a report from Bloomberg. This is the first time a Russian company has been added to the list, which is otherwise made up of Chinese companies, like Huawei and ZTE.

Businesses in the US are barred from using federal subsidies provided through the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to purchase any products or services from the companies on the list. In addition to Kaspersky, the FCC also added China Telecom and China Mobile International USA to its list on Friday.

“I am pleased that our national security agencies agreed with my assessment that China Mobile and China Telecom appeared to meet the threshold necessary to add these entities to our list,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a press release (PDF). “Their addition, as well as Kaspersky Labs, will help secure our networks from threats posed by Chinese and Russian state backed entities seeking to engage in espionage and otherwise harm America’s interests.”

Kaspersky responded to the FCC’s move in a press release on its site, saying the agency’s decision was “made on political grounds” in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that the company “remains ready to cooperate with US government agencies to address the FCC’s and any other regulatory agency’s concerns.”

In 2017, Russian intelligence allegedly used Kaspersky’s antivirus software to steal classified documents from the National Security Agency — a claim denied by the Moscow-based company. Later that year, Former President Donald Trump signed a bill banning the use of Kaspersky products by federal agencies after accusing the company of having ties to the Kremlin.

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AI

Instabase adds deep learning to make sense of unstructured data

Hear from CIOs, CTOs, and other C-level and senior execs on data and AI strategies at the Future of Work Summit this January 12, 2022. Learn more


Whether they realize it or not, most enterprises are sitting on a mountain of priceless, yet untapped, data. Buried deep within PDFs, customer emails, and scanned documents is a trove of business intelligence and insights that often have the potential to inform critical business decisions – if only it can be extracted and harnessed, that is.

Instabase hopes to help businesses benefit from unstructured data with the help of some good, old-fashioned AI. Today, the business automation platform provider is announcing a set of new deep learning-based tools designed to help enterprises more easily extract and make sense of this unstructured data and build applications that will help them put it all to use.

“Unlocking unstructured data, which is 80% of all enterprise data, is an extremely difficult problem due to the variability of the data,” says Instabase founder and CEO Anant Bhardwaj. “Deep learning algorithms provide greater accuracy as the algorithm learns from the entirety of each training document and identifies many different attributes to make its decision, much like a human does.”

Instabase’s new deep learning features offer low-code and no-code functionality that’s designed to let Instabase customers tap into sophisticated deep learning models and train, run, and make use of these models for their business’s needs. Using drag-and-drop visual development interfaces, Instabase customers can build customized workflows and business applications powered by best-in-class deep learning models.

“These deep learning models have already been trained on very large sets of data and as a result, fewer samples are needed to fine-tune the model for a specific use case,” Bhardwaj explains. “That means enterprises can tackle use cases never before possible, build solutions faster and at unprecedented accuracies for their unstructured data use cases.”

Founded in 2015, Instabase uses technology like optical character recognition and natural language processing to extract and decipher data that is far too often buried in formats that can be difficult for machines to understand. The platform provider, whose customers include companies in the financial services, medical, and insurance industries, hopes that by tapping into this unstructured data, it can help companies automate more of their business processes, inform key decisions, and further their own digital transformation.

With the addition of its new deep learning infrastructure, Instabase hopes to make this unstructured data analysis even faster and more impactful. Using the platform’s Machine Learning Studio, Instabase customers can annotate data points within documents and spin up and train a custom model, which can then be used by others within the organization. The new features also include a Model Catalog, which offers plug-and-play access to a library of deep learning models built by Instabase and other providers.

The platform’s new deep learning features will be publicly available in early 2022.

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Game

Xbox Game Pass December 2021 adds Halo Infinite, Stardew Valley, Among Us

Today we kick off the final month of 2021, and with the arrival of December comes news of more additions to Xbox Game Pass. December is shaping up to be a big month for Microsoft’s subscription service, thanks in no small part to the arrival of Halo Infinite. The latest game in Microsoft’s flagship franchise will be joined by some beloved indie classics as well.

Xbox Game Pass games, early December 2021

The new additions start with a bang tomorrow, December 2nd, with the arrival of a bunch of games: Anvil (console and PC), Archvale (cloud, console, and PC), Final Fantasy XIII-2 (console and PC), Lawn Mowing Simulator (cloud, console, and PC), Rubber Bandits (cloud, console, and PC), Stardew Valley (cloud, console, and PC), and Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector (cloud, console, and PC). (via Xbox Wire)

There’s one clear standout in this initial drop of games, and that’s Stardew Valley. We learned that Stardew Valley was destined for Xbox Game Pass earlier this year, and now the big day has finally come. If you’ve never played Stardew Valley before, it’s essentially a love letter to all things Harvest Moon, so if the simple life of small-town farming calls to you, you’ll soon have the chance to play it through Xbox Game Pass.

READ MORE: Halo Infinite multiplayer first impressions

The new additions continue on December 7th with Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator (cloud, console, and PC). That game will be followed on December 8th by the month’s heavy hitter: Halo Infinite, which will be available across the cloud, console, and PC versions of Xbox Game Pass. Keep in mind that this is the campaign for Halo Infinite, with the multiplayer already available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, the Microsoft Store, and PC.

Xbox Game Pass wraps up the first half of December with One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 (cloud, console, and PC) on December 9th and then both Aliens: Fireteam Elite (cloud, console, and PC) and Among Us (console) on December 14th.

Xbox Game Pass perks and upcoming departures

As always, there are several perks for free-to-play games that Xbox Game Pass subscribers can claim this month. It should come as little surprise that one of the perks is for Halo Infinite, granting a “Pass Tense” coating for the MA40 Assault Rifle, four double XP boosts, and four challenge swaps.

Xbox Game Pass subscribers will also get a New Year’s Bundle for Dauntless that includes new cosmetics, a 14-day Slayer’s Club membership, and 25 Patrol Keys. In addition, Apex Legends players can snag the RIG Helmet Weapon charm, while World of Warships: Legends players will get the Hero’s Companion bundle featuring the Medea – a Tier II British warship – along with boosters and credits.

All of these perks will be available in the Perks gallery on Xbox consoles, the Xbox app on PC, and the Xbox Game Pass app on mobile beginning December 2nd, save for the Halo Infinite perks which will go live alongside the campaign on December 8th.

Finally, we’ve got another round of departures heading our way. On Wednesday, December 15th, six games will be leaving Xbox Game Pass: Beholder (cloud and console), The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan (console and PC), Guacamelee! 2 (cloud, console, and PC), Wilmot’s Warehouse (cloud, console, and PC), Unto The End (cloud, console, and PC), and Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (cloud, console, and PC). If you’re currently playing any of those, you’ve got exactly two weeks to finish them up, so be sure to earmark some game time in the coming days.

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Game

Microsoft adds 76 more games to the Xbox backward compatibility program

Microsoft is adding a total of 76 games to the Xbox backward compatibility program, the company announced today during the Xbox 20th anniversary event. Highlights include the entire Max Payne series and F.E.A.R franchise, in addition to Skate 2 and Star Wars: Jedi Knight II.

Every title Microsoft is adding today will support Auto HDR on Xbox Series X and Series S consoles. You’ll also see an increase in resolution when playing original Xbox games. The Xbox Series X and Xbox One X will render those titles at four times their native resolution, while the Xbox Series S will do so at three times and Xbox One S and Xbox One at double. Additionally, 11 titles will support FPS Boost. The feature increases the framerate of a game up to 60 frames per second. 26 titles that were already a part of the backward compatibility library will now support FPS Boost as well. Included in that list are Fallout: New Vegas, The Elder Scrolls IV, Dragon Age: Origins and Dead Space 2.  

Before today, the last time Microsoft added any new titles to the backward compatibility program was in 2019. At the time, that was supposed to be the end of the road for the initiative. Now, Microsoft says this is the final update. “While we continue to stay focused on preserving and enhancing the art form of games, we have reached the limit of our ability to bring new games to the catalog from the past due to licensing, legal and technical constraints,” Xbox Compatibility Program Lead Peggy Lo said. Hopefully the final list of approximately 700 games includes some of your favorite titles.

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Categories
Game

New Among Us Update Adds Roles, XP, And Lots Of Cosmetics

Starting today, Among Us players can kit out their crewmates and imposters with new cosmetics earned by leveling up or purchased from an in-game store. As part of the Cosmicubes update, the game has received a buffet of new content, including visor cosmetics, new items, two new currencies, a store, and new roles.

Everything from this update starts with the addition of experience points and levels. Players now receive XP for completing tasks, killing crewmates, or correctly guessing who the imposter is. With each level, players get two new currencies: Pods and beans. Beans — along with stars, a premium version of the currency — can be used to purchase items, bundles, and Cosmicubes. Pods, on the other hand, can be used to unlock cube contents, which contain cosmetics and such.

In terms of gameplay changes, players can now play games of Among Us with player roles, changing regular matches in a big way. Crewmates can spawn as Scientists, who can check player vitals at any time, or engineers, who can use vents. Imposters, on the other hand, can become Shapeshifters and take on the appearance of anyone else in the game. Players that are killed can also do more than their remaining tasks as Guardian Angels that can defend players from being killed once.

Along with all of this content, Among Us developer Innersloth included a small teaser in today’s trailer confirming that the studio is currently working on another game. However, no other details on the new title were announced.

Editors’ Choice




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