Categories
AI

Customer and employee experience mistakes to avoid and how AI can help

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Enterprise leaders are constantly evaluating how technology can better serve the needs of their customers and employees.

As AI technology progresses, businesses recognize the massive potential to improve customer and employee experiences and positively impact their bottom line. That’s why more than half of leaders are investing accordingly, with plans to increase AI budgets in customer experience by at least 25% next year.

When used in the right places, AI significantly boosts efficiency and satisfaction across a business. For example, AI can automate many parts of a customer and employee journey, enabling faster response time without sacrificing personalized, human-centric experiences.

However, an important forethought for companies is determining where, exactly, to implement AI so that the technology can meet internal and external needs without causing extra work for employees or creating unnecessary frustration for customers who truly need to speak to a human. 

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As quickly-scaling enterprises face pressure to minimize costs while driving value, those that figure out where to best plug in AI as a solution are better poised for success. Here are some pitfalls to avoid.

Thinking employees will automatically stick around in a down market 

Many companies are currently operating with lean teams and can’t afford to lose top talent. Forward-thinking leaders have adapted quickly to leverage AI in a way that removes repetitive, basic work and allows employees to focus on more intellectually-engaging work. By making this intentional shift, businesses are able to increase employee satisfaction and improve output.

To get started on eliminating these tedious and mundane projects, companies should assess where AI and automation can increase efficiencies and optimize workflows.

One place to begin: Enabling employee experience admins with click-to-configure tools that easily and quickly create experiences with built-in automation without writing a single line of code. This automation can tackle basic requests like “how do I reset my password?” and free up time for more creative, strategic work. 

Another application is in HR departments. These departments often use AI to assess job postings for potential hiring bias as well as to analyze labor market data when calculating competitive pay rates. This not only speeds up the recruiting timeline, but allows HR teams to engage more in other parts of the process that should not be overlooked. AI allows employees more time to provide the best human-centric experiences like having quality conversations with internal hiring managers and spending more time with external candidates.

Maintaining an old-school 9-5 mindset

No longer can enterprises offer “good enough” customer service, leaving people waiting for hours or even days for responses. That just doesn’t cut it anymore as customers expect easy, accessible and personalized support from every brand they interact with. In fact, 61% of customers are willing to take their business elsewhere after just one bad experience; 76% after two. 

Businesses can leverage AI as the “always on” tool in the customer journey to keep pace with rising expectations for modern communication channels, 24/7 response expectations, desire to self-serve and tailored personalization.

There is an opportunity for enterprises to adopt messaging, amplify interactions with AI and extend AI to assist in most service needs. AI can also reduce resolution time, such as processing routing inquiries based on skill level, agent availability and request priority. Customers are then matched with the most qualified agents to resolve their issue. This is particularly important as companies at an enterprise size need to have scalable, agile processes to address massive volumes of conversations.

With 65% of customers expecting AI to save them time, companies are adapting their customer experience so that a majority of interactions will start with (and potentially be solved by) a bot. For example, gaming platform Roblox uses AI to respond to requests related to their specific game currency in a range of languages. By automatically resolving simple repetitive questions, bots increase agents’ productivity and let them focus on resolving more complex tickets.

It’s important, however, not to rely solely on AI.

While problems like a password reset can be solved with AI, there are still many issues that require a human. The biggest mistake a company can make is not properly training their bots to escalate issues quickly, efficiently and with the necessary context for a human to step in with a solution. 

Holding on to legacy technology systems 

While some companies can easily adapt and pivot to a digital-first world, traditional enterprises are often stuck using rigid, existing legacy systems that took many years and a big budget to build. These inflexible and fragmented system structures can hold enterprises back from improving the core of the customer journey with new tech stacks and tools. 

AI is an opportunity for enterprises to disrupt that status quo as it can help rejuvenate rigid infrastructure, bring in more scalability and enable teams to handle more complex use cases, improving both customer and employee experience. 

The major challenge of the update is applying the technology between fractured channels and stiff systems that can’t change and pivot as quickly as company growth requires. While the iteration of tech stacks won’t be completed in a single day, companies can start making incremental changes. They can replace one part of old legacy stacks with an easy-to-implement solution using AI to pull data in from other parts of the company.

For instance, a company could leverage AI to revamp its knowledge framework to not only address common issues, but to prompt employees when there are holes in their content base.

Trustpilot, for instance, has done just that to grow, build, manage, and leverage knowledge to deflect tickets and improve agent capacity. The company implemented a knowledge base program to organically navigate customers to solutions and proactively serve up content when an issue is detected. This investment in self-service led to a 62% year-over-year growth in customers opting for self-service, a 98% self-service success rate, and a 1,272% annual ROI on the platform.

Customer and employee experience: A positive AI outlook

While customer and employee expectations have changed, enterprise leaders remain focused on driving bottom-line growth.

With AI, companies can deliver engaging experiences that retain employees and build strong customer relationships during a time of fleeting loyalty. AI has a huge potential to meet the needs of the customer without sacrificing the personal, human touch.

By pushing boundaries, thinking in new ways and letting go of legacy systems, companies can embrace AI — even in small ways — to make a huge impact. 

Jon Aniano is SVP, product at Zendesk.

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Categories
Computing

Why people are saying to avoid the $1,199 M2 MacBook Air

Apple’s latest MacBook Air with the new M2 chip has been controversial, to say the least. The new MacBook Air features a refreshed design and is the successor to the M1, Apple’s new M2 system-on-a-chip.

But since the new M2 MacBook Air dropped, tech reviewers, experts, and regular people are saying you should avoid the base configuration of this new machine due to some pretty substantial performance issues. For a more affordable laptop, this is a frustrating bind that potential MacBook Air buyers are being put in.

For starters, the $1,199 base configuration has an eight-core GPU, while the upgraded version has a full 10-core GPU. This isn’t what Apple told us at WWDC when it showed off the new Air. Apple promised an 18% increase in graphical performance over the M1. What the company didn’t say, however, was the model it showed off was the more expensive upgraded M2 MacBook Air, which retails for $1,499. The model with an eight-core GPU will have a much smaller performance advantage compared to the seven-core M1 MacBook Air.

Then there’s the issue of the slow SSD. The base model comes with a measly 256GB of SSD storage, which itself is an insult to consumers for nearly $1,200. But the problem is bigger than storage space.

The SSD features a single NAND chip instead of two, as is the norm. This is reportedly producing far slower read/write speeds than the 512GB model. In fact, the base model M2 MacBook Air’s storage is a whopping 50% slower than 2020’s M1 MacBook Air, which featured two flash chips.

Just look at these benchmarks posted by YouTuber Max Tech:

  • 2020 M1 chip read/write speed: 2900/2215
  • 2022 M2 chip read/write speed: 1446/1463

But wait, it gets worse. The combination of the slow SSD and the 8GB of shared memory actually bottleneck performance so hard that according to Max Tech, there can even be tasks such as file transfers in which it’s even slower than the M1 MacBook Air, which doesn’t have this same deficiency. Yikes. The issue was first discovered in the M2 MacBook Pro 13-inch, but they apply just the same to the MacBook Air.

This wasn’t something we were able to verify ourselves at DT, as our review unit came with the 512GB SSD, which was plenty zippy.

The screen of the MacBook Air on a table.

Finally, there’s no fast charger. Apple includes a basic 30-watt charging brick with this model, while the upgraded version comes with a 35-watt dual charger. It’s not much faster, but at least it’s an improvement. A $300 dollar improvement, though? You can easily buy a 67-watt fast charger for under $30 from the Apple Store. But you shouldn’t have to.

Don’t take this the wrong way. We love the new design language Apple went with for the M2 MacBook Air. The boxy, industrial minimalism look brings it in line with the rest of Apple’s devices. The M2 chip also holds so much potential for computing in general. Apple Silicon is changing the face of the computer world — there’s no question about it.

But Apple seems to be holding it back with this nerfed base model M2 MacBook Air, and almost everybody agrees. You’ll probably want to upgrade to the better configurations or opt for the M1 MacBook Air.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Computing

Update Your AMD Drivers Now to Avoid These 27 Security Risks

AMD revealed 27 security risks in its Radeon graphics drivers for Windows 10. These vulnerabilities, according to AMD, “could result in escalation of privilege, denial of service, information disclosure, KASLR bypass, or arbitrary write to kernel memory,” so we recommend updating your GPU drivers as soon as possible.

AMD listed the vulnerabilities in a security bulletin, saying that 18 of the 27 issues are of “high” severity. One of the issues (CVE-2020-12960) causes amdfendr.sys to handle input validation incorrectly, which could lead to denial of service. Another (CVE-2020-12892) has an untrusted search path in the Radeon installer, which could lead to privilege escalation or unauthorized code execution.

You don’t need to be a cybersecurity expert to know that these vulnerabilities put your PC at risk. AMD has addressed all of the issues through driver updates, but the company didn’t get to all of them at once. The first batch of issues was resolved with Radeon Software version 20.7.1, but the final issues didn’t receive fixes until version 21.4.1.

This underscores how important it is to keep your drivers up to date. Almost every release will come with some number of vulnerabilities, but it’s often weeks or months until those vulnerabilities are disclosed — long after a fix has been released.

That’s not to mention the performance benefits GPU drivers often bring. In addition to optimizations for new games, new drivers can generally squeeze extra performance out of your hardware. A study of GPU benchmarks showed a 9% improvement with AMD’s RX 6800 XT since launch, which largely came on the back of driver optimizations.

Drivers can fix nongaming issues, too. In August, AMD released an updated driver to improve 4K playback on YouTube, and updates to AMD’s Ryzen drivers fixed an issue that could expose user passwords. New drivers constantly fix problems like these, so you should check for updates as often as possible.

How to protect yourself

Although we recommend just updating to the latest driver available, AMD fixed the 27 issues listed in the bulletin with Radeon driver 21.4.1 (21.Q2 for enterprise cards). Both of those last two drivers were released months ago. The most recent driver is 21.11.2, which was released on Thursday.

To check what driver version you have, open up AMD Radeon Settings on your PC and look under the Driver & Software tab. You’ll be able to see which driver version you have, as well as check for updates. Click the Check for Updates button underneath to see if you have any drivers available.

Home screen in AMD Radeon Software.

If you don’t already have Radeon software installed, head to AMD’s driver download page. If you want to install the driver manually, select the graphics card you have, and the site will point you toward the most recent version available. We recommend using AMD’s auto-detect utility, though. This tool will not only install Radeon software so driver updates are easier in the future, it will also scan your PC for updates to any AMD product.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
AI

Report: 80% of consumers prefer to speak with AI to avoid long hold times

A new survey conducted by Replicant found that nearly 80% of consumers indicated they would prefer to speak with a virtual agent or machine to avoid long hold times. Moreover, 57% of consumers would speak with conversational AI even if the hold time was only five minutes.

Beyond consumers’ willingness to speak with AI, the survey found pervasive customer service problems, with 91% of consumers reporting they have experienced poor customer service in the past six months.

Consumers say auto and home insurance companies have had the best customer service since the pandemic began, while cell phone and internet providers ranked the worst. Airlines, in the news for long hold times, came in second place for worst customer service overall since the pandemic began.

However, airlines didn’t present the most issues for summer travelers. For the 77% of summer travelers who reported they encountered customer service issues, rental car companies topped the list, as nearly a third of travelers using rental cars had issues.

Overall, brands that don’t address gaps in customer service are at risk, with 76% of consumers saying a poor customer service experience negatively impacts their perception of a brand and one in three saying it affects loyalty. The pandemic and its continued impacts have exacerbated extant staffing issues, but companies haven’t made changes to have more resilient staffing in the face of uncertainty. For many of these companies, AI could provide needed support. With the pandemic still in play, staffing and uncertainty will continue to impact recovery if not addressed.

Replicant commissioned the survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers who have interacted with customer service in the past six months late this summer, amid reports of issues with airline customer service and product shortages, to examine public attitudes toward customer service.

Read the full report by Replicant.

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Categories
Security

Update Your AMD Ryzen Drivers Now to Avoid Leaking Passwords

AMD released a new chipset driver in August that patched “critical security flaws,” but it didn’t mention which vulnerabilities the patch worked for. In a report published last week, cybersecurity researchers disclosed a vulnerability in the driver that would allow attackers to steal sensitive information like passwords, and it impacts all Ryzen processors, as well as several previous AMD generations.

The vulnerability (CVE-2021-26333) exists in AMD’s Platform Security Processor (PSP) chipset driver. The PSP works with the operating system to store sensitive information in secured parts of memory, and it’s usually only accessible by administrators.

Kyriakos Economou, co-founder of security research firm ZeroPeril, published a report last week that said non-privileged users could exploit the driver to access the sensitive information stored in memory, according to The Record. Originally, AMD listed the vulnerability as only affecting Ryzen 1000 processors. The report says that all desktop and mobile Ryzen processors are affected, and AMD has updated its security disclosure since.

The attack focuses in the motherboard chipset, so it doesn’t apply if you have an AMD graphics card without an AMD processor (though another security flaw is posing a risk to AMD cards at the moment).

According to the report, Economou was able to leak “several gigabytes” of data. The exploit also allows attackers to get around mitigations like kernel address space layout randomization (KASLR), which protect against attacks that exploit a known address for the kernel. With these exploits, attackers can steal sensitive information like passwords and gain deeper permissions in a network.

Although scary, AMD has already patched the vulnerability with a new PSP chipset driver, which rolled out last week through Microsoft’s September Patch Tuesday. Read on learn how to update your drivers to make sure you have the latest version.

How to protect yourself

The latest version of the AMD PSP driver is 5.17.0.0, which is part of AMD Chipset Driver 3.08.17.735. You can install the driver manually, but it’s available now through Windows Update. To patch, press Windows Key + S, type “update,” and select Check for Updates. That will bring you to the Windows Update page.

Windows Update restarted required.

Then select Check for Updates and install any that are available. After that’s done, make sure to restart your computer to apply the new patches. Alternatively, you can download AMD’s auto-detect tool to install the latest Ryzen chipset drivers to your system. If you go this route, make sure to know your motherboard’s chipset and be certain that AMD PSP Driver is checked during the chipset driver installation.

If you arrive at Windows Update and don’t see anything, you can check to see if you have the latest chipset driver installed. Press Windows Key + X and select Device Manager. Expand the Security Devices list, right-click on AMD PSP, and select Properties. In the window that opens, select the Driver tab to view your driver version.

The secure version is 5.17.0.0, so you’ll need to update if your driver version is different. Although the vulnerability is mainly focused on recent Ryzen processors, it actually affects many generations of AMD CPUs. Here’s the full list:

  • 2nd Gen AMD Ryzen Mobile Processor with Radeon Graphics
  • 2nd Gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor
  • 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper Processors
  • 6th Generation AMD A series CPU with Radeon Graphics
  • 6th Generation AMD A-Series Mobile Processor
  • 6th Generation AMD FX APU with Radeon R7 Graphics
  • 7th Generation AMD A-Series APUs
  • 7th Generation AMD A-Series Mobile Processor
  • 7th Generation AMD E-Series Mobile Processor
  • AMD A4-Series APU with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD A6 APU with Radeon R5 Graphics
  • AMD A8 APU with Radeon R6 Graphics
  • AMD A10 APU with Radeon R6 Graphics
  • AMD 3000 Series Mobile Processors with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD Athlon 3000 Series Mobile Processors with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD Athlon Mobile Processors with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD Athlon X4 Processor
  • AMD Athlon 3000 Series Mobile Processors with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD Athlon X4 Processor
  • AMD E1-Series APU with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD Ryzen 1000 series Processor
  • AMD Ryzen 2000 series Desktop Processor
  • AMD Ryzen 2000 series Mobile Processor
  • AMD Ryzen 3000 Series Desktop Processor
  • AMD Ryzen 3000 series Mobile Processor with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD Ryzen 3000 series Mobile Processor
  • AMD Ryzen 4000 Series Desktop Processor with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Desktop Processor
  • AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Desktop Processor with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Mobile Processors with Radeon Graphics
  • AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO Processor
  • AMD Ryzen Threadripper Processor

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Players Avoid Activision Blizzard Games Amid Company Walkout

Players across platforms aren’t logging in to Call of Duty: WarzoneOverwatchWorld of Warcraft, or the rest of Activision Blizzard’s games in solidarity with the developers walking out of the company today.

The Activision Blizzard walkout was organized by developers at the company in response to the serious allegations made against the company in a recent lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The lawsuit, filed following a two-year investigation by the department, alleges that Activision Blizzard cultivated a “frat house” culture in which sexual harassment and discrimination were commonplace. The lawsuit goes on to say that women were routinely denied promotions, which went to less-experienced men, and were paid less for the same work.

Across Twitter, players are using the hashtag ActiBlizzWalkout to show their support for Activision Blizzard employees. Many players are encouraging others not to cross the “picket line” formed by developers at the company by avoiding any games with Activision’s or Blizzard’s name. Besides the games mentioned before, players will be avoiding some major franchises, including Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Spyro, and Guitar Hero.

I stand in solidarity with the #ActiBlizzWalkout today and will not be playing or streaming any of their games. I am inspired by the bravery of those who came forward and have told their stories at very real risk to themselves and their careers, and I hope they find justice. pic.twitter.com/8Ml1fc1noP

— Brian Kibler (@bmkibler) July 28, 2021

Today’s walkout isn’t the first response developers at the massive gaming company have had to the lawsuit. Earlier this week, a senior system designer for World of Warcraft stated that “almost no work is being done on World of Warcraft right now while this obscenity plays out.”

Activision Blizzard has already issued multiple public and internal statements regarding the lawsuit, but they have been received as “tone deaf” by employees and even the company’s CEO, Bobby Kotick. Kotick yesterday issued his own statement, in which he called for a “swift action to be the compassionate, caring company you came to work for and to ensure a safe environment.”

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Amazon responds to RTX 3090 New World nightmare: How to avoid a bricked GPU [Update]

It’s been a rough day for some unfortunate PC gamers. Amazon’s upcoming MMO, New World, entered closed beta yesterday, and it didn’t take long before some participants reported that the game bricked their GPUs. These weren’t aging GPUs trying to run a game beyond their capability, but rather top-of-the-line RTX 3090 GPUs.

Most of the reports seem to suggest that the EVGA RTX 3090 FTW3 Ultra is having the most problems, though there have been user reports that suggest other GPUs are vulnerable as well. After some speculation from the player base about what could be causing the issue – players think it’s uncapped framerate in menus exacerbating a power delivery design flaw in these GPUs – Amazon has now responded to the claims and given users some tips on how to avoid damaging their hardware.

In a post to the New World forums, an Amazon customer service rep explains that the studio believes the issue “is related with driver settings and frame rate limiters.” First, it’s recommended that users disable the overrides in their driver settings, hit “Apply,” and then restart the game client.

Beyond that, Amazon also suggests capping FPS to stop issues with the GPU’s utilization. To do that, go into the game’s settings, then the “Visuals” menu, set the Max FPS option to “60.” Finally, Amazon suggests double-checking in the NVIDIA Control Panel that the Max Frame Rate setting for New World shows either “Use Global Settings (Off)” or “Off.”

The hope is that these fixes solve the problem entirely because this is a costly issue to encounter – not to mention one that’s made more complicated by the fact that these top-end GPUs are incredibly difficult to find at the moment. We’ll see if users report ongoing GPU issues with New World now that Amazon has detailed some fixes, so stay tuned.

Update: Amazon has now issued a statement regarding reports of bricked GPUs. “Hundreds of thousands of people played in the New World Closed Beta yesterday, with millions of total hours played,” Amazon said in a statement to SlashGear. “We’ve received a few reports of players using high-performance graphics cards experiencing hardware failure when playing New World.”

“New World makes standard DirectX calls as provided by the Windows API. We have seen no indication of widespread issues with 3090s, either in the beta or during our many months of alpha testing. The New World Closed Beta is safe to play. In order to further reassure players, we will implement a patch today that caps frames per second on our menu screen. We’re grateful for the support New World is receiving from players around the world, and will keep listening to their feedback throughout Beta and beyond.”

So, not only do we have the tips listed above, but now this statement also confirms that Amazon will implement a patch that puts a hard cap on framerate while in menus. Hopefully that’s the end of any GPU issues players have while running New World.

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Categories
Computing

OLED Burn-In: What Is It and How To Avoid It?

OLED technology gives a gorgeous picture, but it isn’t perfect. With each pixel emitting its own light, it can wear out at different rates. For example, if a particular area is lit in bright white a lot more than the rest of the display for extended periods of time, that area’s peak brightness may not be the same a few years later. This effect also translates to the sub-pixels, where if one color is used excessively compared to the others, a color shift may occur on that particular spot years down the line.

u/send2s / reddit

This effect is called burn-in, and although it’s far from as severe as it used to be on plasma TVs and, before that, CRT displays, it’s still something to keep in mind. If you own an OLED panel or are contemplating purchasing one, you’ll want to protect your investment and make it last for years to come. Let’s dig into a few tricks you can use to manage the effect.

The good news is that there are already a lot of technologies in place to mitigate the problem, and for the most part, it’s not something you need to worry all that much about. But there are a few caveats to keep in mind, especially with the type of content you put on display.

Which OLED screens should you worry about?

LG C1 OLED 4k TV

In today’s world, OLED panels mostly show up in premium smartphones and high-end televisions, while PC monitors rarely get any OLED love at all. OLED burn-in is as much a phenomenon on mobile phones as it is on televisions. That’s less of a problem, as once it becomes noticeable, the handset is generally already in need of a replacement for other reasons.

But televisions have a much longer useful lifetime, with the average owner keeping theirs for seven to 10 years. This makes it worthwhile to manage the way you use it in order to maintain an optimal viewing experience well past the television’s warranty period.

What can you do to stop burn-in?

LG is currently the biggest manufacturer of OLED panels, and the company has developed a handful of technologies to manage burn-in. However, these are the two best things you can do to manage burn-in yourself: Don’t have the TV on the same channel all day long, every day, and reduce its brightness.

Channel-hopping makes the biggest difference. The way that many TV channels have the broadcaster’s logo in one of the corners can do a number on burn-in, and while short individual viewing sessions of up to a few hours on occasion won’t make any discernable difference, years of watching only the same channel for numerous hours a day does. The same goes for certain types of content: Sports often have a point count somewhere on-screen that stays in the same spot, and even watching the news channel all day can cause a human silhouette in color shift to show up at the center because of the news anchor.

Not watching the TV at its most vivid brightness can make a big difference, too, as that will help reduce wear on the pixels.

Enable built-in technologies

LG’s TVs do a few things to manage burn-in, and enabling those settings can go a long way to mitigate the effects of burn-in. There’s a Pixel Shift feature, which shifts the entire image around a bit to smear out the effects from static objects like logos, point counters, and headline banners.

The TVs are also able to tell when static objects remain at high brightness for extended periods of time, reducing the peak brightness of that specific spot to minimize the damage. They also have screensavers that can come on a minute after pausing the content when using the built-in WebOS interface.

Niels Broekhuijsen/Digital Trends

Moreover, LG’s TVs also have a Pixel Refresher feature that keeps track of the luminosity hours run by areas of its panel, and with that information, they occasionally run an invisible maintenance cycle to equalize the wear across the panel when not in use.

Keep in mind that LG’s Pixel Refresher doesn’t store the data in non-volatile memory, so every time you unplug the TV, the usage from the last few days is forgotten, and it won’t be able to do its job properly when plugged in again. So, do run the Pixel Refresher manually before unplugging the TV to move it — and know that forgetting it once a while won’t do much significant harm; just don’t make a habit of it. This also means that you should not unplug the TV at night when not in use to save power, as this prevents the Pixel Refresher from running at all.

The combination of all these features, along with keeping usage patterns in mind, can work together to make burn-in a non-issue. However, as the user, you should make sure all these features are enabled and running — some may not be enabled straight from the factory.

A quick note on use with a PC

We understand that using an OLED screen as a huge PC monitor or having a PC installed as a gaming PC in the living room is tempting, especially given the lack of OLED PC gaming monitors, but in such use cases, you should take extra precautions. Computers often have a lot of static objects on display, and although gaming generally isn’t too big a deal (unless you only ever play one game with a static HUD), desktop use can wear an OLED panel out prematurely.

These precautions include removing desktop icons, setting the taskbar to auto-hide, setting a screensaver (because over HDMI inputs, most OLED TVs don’t auto-activate their own built-in screensaver like they do when using the built-in apps), and having a wallpaper slideshow with some variety and consistent brightness levels per wallpaper. Lastly, it’s best to avoid always keeping specific windows in the same spot every time.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Halo Infinite Developer Wants To Avoid Grind-y Battle Passes

Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer will introduce a lot of new concepts to the long-running franchise. Besides new gameplay mechanics, the game’s multiplayer will be entirely free-to-play, a first for any Halo title. Being a free-to-play title comes with its own specific features, including battle passes. However, according to a post on Halo WaypointInfinite‘s battle passes won’t be “a grind for players.”

Battle passes for Halo Infinite already have a rather open and generous design. Passes won’t expire at the end of each season, and players will be able to purchase previous battle passes to get their hands on content and cosmetics they may have missed out on. These features are practically unheard of in other free-to-play or live service titles, which treat battle passes and their contents as timed exclusives. Players won’t have any FOMO in Infinite, though.

Players will also be able to own multiple battle passes simultaneously and choose which they progress through.

With so much content being based around battle passes, and inevitably getting more experience points, Halo Infinite live team design director Ryan Paradis stressed that players wouldn’t have to grind. “First and foremost,” Paradis said in a post on Halo Waypoint, “we’re working hard to ensure that the battle pass isn’t a ‘grind’ for players. We want it to be a supplemental rewards stream for the time you were already putting into the game.”

The same post also revealed the theme of Halo Infinite‘s first season: Halo Reach. Titled “Heroes of Reach,” players will likely be able to deck their Spartans out in some of Noble Team’s iconic armor sets.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Computing

Google Chrome Update Needed to Avoid Nasty Security Flaw

Google released an update to its Chrome browser for Windows and Mac users, and the internet giant strongly recommends that users apply the update as soon as possible. The update contains 14 security fixes — including a zero-day security flaw — that if left unchecked would leave the system vulnerable to attacks. Google categorized these fixes as critical, high, and medium importance.

Windows and Mac users who also surf the internet with the Chrome browser will want to make sure that they’re on version 91.0.4472.101. To make sure that you’re on the latest build of Chrome, launch your browser and then click on the three dots stacked vertically at the top right. Navigate to Settings, and then click About Chrome. From there, you’ll be able to view the Chrome version number, and you can update the browser if it wasn’t automatically updated in the background.

If you don’t immediately update your browser, Google should be pushing out the update to users in the coming days or weeks, the company stated on its blog.

One of the security vulnerabilities that was listed — CVE-2021-30551 — is related to a flaw in Windows 10 that Microsoft had recently patched with its newest OS update.

“Chrome in-the-wild vulnerability CVE-2021-30551 patched today was also from the same actor and targeting,” Google Director of Software Engineering Shane Huntley wrote in a Twitter post, referencing that attackers who exploited that vulnerability also took advantage of the vulnerability from CVE-2021-33742. In its release note of the latest Chrome update, Google described the CVE-2021-30551 vulnerability as a “type confusion in V8,” which was reported by Clement Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group and Sergei Glazunov of Google Project Zero.

The vulnerability was initially discovered on June 4, Google stated, noting that the company “is aware that an exploit for CVE-2021-30551 exists in the wild.” Chrome relies on the JavaScript-based V8 rendering engine for its browser, and the rendering is also common for competing browsers based on the Chromium project, including Microsoft’s Edge.

Even if you’re not on Google Chrome, you’ll want to ensure that you’re running the latest release from the browser of your choice. Most browsers that use Chromium for rendering will also list the Chromium version number, and users should diligently check to see if a patch is available for their browser of choice. If you’re using Microsoft Edge, for example, you’ll want to launch your browser, and navigate to the About page. There, you’ll find the browser version number along with an option to update to the latest version if you’re not on the most current release. Similar procedures can be followed for Opera, Brave, and others that are based on Chromium.

According to Bleeping Computer, this is the sixth zero-day exploit for Chrome in 2021.

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