Category Archives: Gaming PCs

iOS 11.2 offers faster wireless charging for new i-Phones

The update will increase wireless charging power from 5 watts to 7.5 watts.

The latest release of iOS 11, iOS 11.2, has brought faster charging to the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X using Qi-charging accessories.

Using iOS 11.1.1, which was rolled out to fix problems with typing an i, the iPhones only supported 5 watts of charging power. However, the most recent update, which is  currently being tested by select developers and other beta testers, will apparently support 7.5 watts, make charging faster if you want to use wireless charging accessories.

There has been no official announcement by Apple regarding this new capability, save an earlier promise to increase charging capabilities “at a later date”. According to MacRumours, however, it received the tip-off from RAVPower, a company that makes accessories supporting the wireless charging standard for the new iPhone range. The website confirmed that after testing the update with 7.5 watt accessories indeed, it was faster when using an accessory that supports 7.5 watts charging speeds, topping up a device from 46% to 66% in 30 minutes, compared to 60% in 30 minutes when using a 5 watt accessory.

The website explained that it had tested the devices using “real world” conditions with a case on the device and Airplane Mode not activated.

However, it’s important to note the iPhones’ charging speed is still slower than many of the other Qi-charging-enabled devices, which often support speeds of up to 15 watts.

Apple’s Tim Cook congratulates Australia on marriage equality vote… but uses New Zealand flag

 

Australia has made an historic vote in favour of same-sex marriage, with Tim Cook amongst those voicing congratulations

Yesterday Australia took a major step towards legalising marriage equality, after what Malcolm Turnbull described as an “unequivocal, overwhelming” vote in favour of same-sex marriage.

Messages of support have been pouring in across social media, including from the tech sector. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was amongst those sending out his congratulations:

“Congratulations Australia! Another important step toward equality for all,” he said.

When Cook originally posted the tweet, however, he used the New Zealand flag instead of the Australian one. He quickly deleted the tweet and replaced it with the correct flag, but not before screenshots started to do the rounds.

(Tweet with NZ flag. Credit: CNET)

To someone unfamiliar with the flags, they do look very similar. The most prominent difference is the additional star in the Australian flag.

This article originally appeared at alphr.com

Democracy hacked: How 30 governments sought to bend elections through social media

“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” said the famous New Yorker cartoon back in 1993. In the intervening 24 years, the lines have gotten even more blurred. Not only do you not know whether I’m a dog or not, but you also don’t know whether I’m a bot or a paid stooge looking to influence your political outlook.

This, it turns out, is a widespread problem, and not the preserve of cranks bitter that their team lost an election. Russian influence in the US election is widely accepted by American intelligence services, even if the president has other ideas, but it turns out the roots go much deeper than that.

A new report from the independent watchdog Freedom House reveals that 30 governments were engaged in using social media to spread discord, among their own electorate and towards others. The report states that 18 elections in the past year were tampered with, with bots retweeting fake news and propaganda, and paid actors pretending to be people they’re not.

“Not only is this manipulation difficult to detect, it is more difficult to combat than other types of censorship, such as website blocking, because it’s dispersed and because of the sheer number of people and bots deployed to do it,” said Sanja Kelly, who was in charge of the Freedom on the Net project.

While tampering in the discourse of foreign countries was generally less common, it’s a tactic that’s picking up steam, according to the report. Russia and China were the pioneers of the tactic, but apparently, it has been picked up by the likes of Turkey, Syria, Ethiopia and the Philippines.

The tactics generally followed one of four methods: bots that echo a single message and amplify stories (fake or otherwise) that share the worldview; paid commenters dropping by news sites to parrot the views of their paymasters; fake news sites set up to sow political discord or suppress voter turnout; and troll accounts that engage specific targets with arguments to waste their time.

This is a problem that’s divorced from, but linked to, Twitter’s refusal to automatically block white supremacists, despite having the power to do so. Taking the example of neo-Nazism, while there are real white supremacists on Twitter, there are also bots designed to amplify their views, and real people paid to repeat the core messaging. In the case of Russian interference in the US election, the method seems to be to sow disharmony by promoting disparate groups across the political spectrum but concentrated on the fringes.

Sometimes the mask slips, and obvious mistakes slip through:

Likewise, sleuths can spot sloppy overseas accounts by the grammatical clues they drop:

But otherwise? You’re stuck. Twitter and Facebook have ideas of how widespread the problem is, but as private companies, there’s only so much they’re required to divulge – especially with the balance between government and tech companies being so hugely unbalanced.

When a bunch of fake political messages were shared in Washington earlier this year, it emerged that one of them had also been writing about the Westminster terror attack in London: @SouthLoneStar, whose tweet accusing a Muslim woman of callously ignoring a dying man was retweeted over 1,000 times and featured by papers around the UK. @SouthLoneStar, it turned out, was a paid Russian operative, despite describing themselves as a “proud Texan” in the bio.

It’s entirely possible that the impact on actual elections is negligible, but UK prime minister Theresa May recently used a speech to warn Russia that the world is on to its tricksy election practices. “It is seeking to weaponise information, deploying its state-run media organisations to plant fake stories and Photoshopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions,” she said. “So I have a very simple message for Russia: we know what you’re doing, and you will not succeed because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us.”

It’s a reassuring sentiment, but one that’s quite hard to square against the fact that Russia has got its desired outcome on at least two votes: Donald Trump is president. Brexit means Brexit. And on the internet, everyone is a dog.

Review: L.A. Noire on Switch

Rockstar’s noir thriller feels like a totally different tale on Nintendo’s fabulous portable.

On release, L.A. Noire was something different. Back in 2011 it bucked a lot of trends and placed a lot of emphasis on its characters and on humanising its cast. Unfortunately, due to poor marketing messages and last-minute design decisions, it didn’t appear as slick as it initially could have.

Many thought it was going to be an action-packed open-world detective romp, mostly because that’s what its publisher Rockstar was renowned for. Others were perturbed by the bad signposting used for interrogations, where “doubt”, “truth” and “lie” didn’t encapsulate what they actually intended to happen. If those didn’t prove to be issues, there was also the unsettling realism of the 3D-scanned actors’ faces on every character model.

Fast forward to 2017 and the PS4, Xbox One and Switch remasters have alleviated many of these problems. As a whole, they’re essentially the same game as the one released six years ago but now Rockstar’s touch-ups have brought 4K textures and HDR to the PS4 and Xbox One releases while the Nintendo Switch title has become its own nugget of L.A. Noiredeliciousness.

 

L.A. Noire review: A noir tale as old as time

Before I get down to brass tacks, however, those who haven’t played it already need the skinny on what L.A. Noire is all about. Set in post-war Los Angeles, you play as Cole Phelps, a decorated USMC veteran setting out on his career in the LAPD. His strong moral compass, no-nonsense attitude and a nose for finding facts means Phelps rises through the ranks swiftly and is exposed to the dark underbelly of LA’s bright lights and the shady side of the police force sworn to protect it.

Basically, the game riffs off the noir thrillers that popularised the 1940s and 1950s. If you’ve seen L.A. Confidential or The Untouchables or read anything by James Ellroy and Dashiell Hammett you’ll get the picture.

L.A. Noire is as close as you’ll get to playing your way through one of these movies in video game form. Sure, both Grim Fandango and Hotel Dusk make a good stab at it, but L.A. Noireactually feels like a film to play through. Heck, the original game developer, Team Bondi, even offered a black and white filter for you to play with to make it feel just that little bit more authentic.

You’d think, then, that shrinking down such a filmic experience into a portable form would sully the creation, but it does anything but that. But L.A. Noire works just great on Nintendo’s portable console: on Switch is an absolute delight. In fact, it’s exactly how I’ve wanted to play games like this for years.

L.A. Noire review: A game to kill for

To make the experience work on Switch, Rockstar has clearly had to make some concessions compared to the PS4 and Xbox One remasterings. But that doesn’t mean it’s any worse for it. In fact, the Switch version is a vast improvement over the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.

The hyperrealistic 3D scanned faces of the original remain but this time they’ve been softened. They still look incredible but, thanks to a bump in environment and character detail, along with improved lighting, they don’t look as out of place as before. They also no longer seem to float over the surface of a character’s model; instead, they look part of the character in question.

Environments also seem to be more detailed and, while equally as sparse in terms of activities, the streets of L.A. seem more alive, particularly during driving sections. Details in crime scenes are just as equally grisly, earning the game a well-deserved 18 rating from the BBFC. The improvement in visuals and fidelity over the PS3 and Xbox 360 do come at a cost, however. This is a gargantuan release for Switch.

Some of its enormous size is down to L.A. Noire’s included DLC and smattering of new collectables and outfits but the texture improvements don’t help. The game box handily states you may need a microSD card to play it, but good luck even trying to run it if you don’t. Even with a copy of the game on a Switch game cartridge, you’ll still need to download an incredibly meaty 14GB file. Those opting for a completely digital download will need to stomach 29GB.

But it’s worth it, as L.A. Noire on Switch is more than just a lazy port with some improved visuals. Rockstar has taken the time to really play to the Switch’s strengths. Some modifications are small touches, such as the Joy-Con HD Rumble function reacting when you turn on a car engine, rumbling alternately with each footstep on the rung of a ladder or when you inadvertently kick a bottle that’s lying on the floor.

Bigger improvements come in the form of the implementation of both touchscreen and motion controls. You can now touch the Switch screen to move Phelps and drag your finger to adjust the camera. Touch controls also work during interrogations so you can hit the huge, screen-filling, updated conversation prompts for “Good Cop”, “Bad Cop” and “Accuse”.

The motion controls are slightly less intuitive but still work very well. Movement is still mapped to thumbsticks but you can also use the Joy-Cons to handle aiming and camera movement. It also lets you reload by tapping the IR camera on the right Joy-Con, switch targets by flicking your wrist when locked-on and rotate clues by moving them in your hands. Rockstar has done a great job in making the game feel more interactive.

L.A Noire review: Verdict

The only real sticking point with the Switch version, aside from its huge storage requirements, is its price. It’s not as expensive as Doom or Skyrim, but it’s still £36, which is more than its PS4 and Xbox One release. Granted, the new gameplay features, tweaks and portable play do make up for that somewhat, especially if you’ve never played L.A. Noire before. But that may still be a touch too high for some.

Regardless of cost, though, L.A. Noire is yet another ringing endorsement for why the Nintendo Switch is the freshest console around. Even a six-year-old title can feel like something entirely thanks to its unique approach and, despite the shiny visuals of its big-console counterparts, I wouldn’t play it on anything other than the Switch.


L.A. Noire on Switch


8
10


“Regardless of cost, though, L.A. Noire is yet another ringing endorsement for why the Nintendo Switch is the freshest console around.”








• Developer: Team Bondi

• Publisher: Rockstar



Coinhive cryptocurrency miner on Check Point’s Most Wanted Malware list

 

Cryptocurrency miners are becoming one of the most prolific threats facing everyone, with Check Point Software Technologies naming this type of malicious software in its Ten Most Wanted Malware list for October.

The advent of using Coinhive and its variants to illegally mine bitcoin, monero and other digital currencies helped debut this cryptocurrency miner at number six on Check Point’s list, right between the well-known Zeus, at number five, and Ramnit at number seven.

“Cryptomining is emerging as a silent, yet significant, actor in the threat landscape, allowing threat actors to extract substantial profits while victims’ endpoints and networks suffer from latency and decreased performance,” Check Point wrote.

CoinHive is implanted via JavaScript, and proceeds to use a huge portion of the victimised computer’s CPU power, severely impacting the machine’s performance.

Another newcomer to the list was Seamless. This is a traffic distribution system malware, which operates by silently redirecting the victim to a malicious web page, leading to infection by an exploit kit. Successful infection will allow the attacker to download additional malware from the target.

Here is how the rest of the list stood for October:

1.       RoughTed

2.       Locky

3.       Seamless

4.       Conficker

5.       Zeus

6.       CoinHive

7.       Ramnit

8.       Fireball

9.       Pushdo

10.     Andromeda

This article originally appeared at scmagazineuk.com

Adobe Patch Tuesday: 62 vulnerabilities for Acrobat, 5 critical for Flash

 

Adobe’s November Patch Tuesday included 83 patches, including fixes for five critical-rated issues in Flash Player. Reader and Acrobat, by themselves, generated more than five dozen CVEs.

Adobe’s November Patch Tuesday made up for October when nothing was issued, with an offering that included 83 patches, including fixes for five critical-rated issues in Flash Player. Reader and Acrobat, by themselves, generated more than five dozen CVEs.

The critical Flash Player patches cover CVE-2017-3112, CVE-2017-3114, CVE-2017-11213, CVE-2017-11215 and CVE-2017-11225, all of which could allow for remote code execution if left unfixed.

The Acrobat and Reader updates cover 62 separate issues, with many rated as critical due to the possibility of remote code execution, if left unpatched.

“…It’s quite a big month for Adobe, who…issued advisories across nine separate products. Given the prevalence of PDF documents, administrators should take a close look at whether Adobe software in their environment is up to date,” Greg Wiseman, Rapid7’s senior security researcher, told SC Media.

While the other product categories did not require as many patches, each had at least one critical issue.

  • PhotoShop: two critical bugs, one a use-after-free flaw and the other a memory corruption. Both could lead to remote code execution.
  • Shockwave: one critical flaw.
  • Digital Editions: six problems, one considered critical.
  • InDesign: one critical flaw was noted.
  • Adobe DNG Converter: one critical vulnerability.
  • Connect: five security issues, one rated critical.

This article originally appeared at scmagazineuk.com

The latest Moto Mod turns your phone into an instant photo printer

 

Snap-happy.

Everything makes a comeback, and right now it’s all about instant photography. A few weeks ago Fujifilm launched the Instax Share SP-3, a mini printer that connects to your phone wirelessly and fires out old-school square snaps. Despite having a remarkably similar name, Motorola’s Insta-Share has gone one better.

With this mod attached your Moto Z phone essentially becomes the printer. Built in collaboration with Polaroid, the device prints 2×3” photos onto Polaroid’s smudge-free ZINK Zero-Ink Paper, seamlessly hooking up with your Facebook, Instagram and Google Photos accounts. Just snap it to the back of your phone, click the button to launch the camera, and you’re away.

You can customise your snaps with various filters and effects (which does sort of defeat the point, but anyway), while adhesive backs mean you’re able to effortlessly spam your flat with your elite selfies. Sadly you won’t be using one on Christmas Day, but stock is scheduled to arrive in early January.

Razer’s new BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard can survive a splash

 

Clumsy gamers rejoice.

They say three things are certain in this life: death, taxes and – at some point – knocking a full can of Coke all over your keyboard.

The latter is a constantly looming threat for PC gamers, especially the type prone to wildly lashing out when a camping sniper takes them out for fourth straight round. If it works as advertised, the latest BlackWidow Ultimate in Razer’s mechanical keyboard range will be able to withstand an accidental spillage. With an IP54 water and dust resistance rating, you shouldn’t be taking this thing in the bath, but a splash or two shouldn’t cause it any trouble.

This is obviously the keyboard’s major selling point, but you’re also getting Razer’s backlit green keys, which are programmable and can be customised to produce animated effects such as waves and ripples.

App of the week: Cally’s Caves 4

My Little Pony? Pah. This pigtailed girl’s happier with a flamethrower, a disc gun, and endless baddies to shoot.

Think you had a tough childhood? It’s nothing compared to Cally’s. She could barely pause for breath at any point before her parents would carelessly get kidnapped, forcing her to partake in yet another perilous rescue mission full of leaping and shooting.

Presumably, her folks are now safely locked in a cupboard, because in Cally’s fourth adventure she’s on a different kind of mission. Now the aim is to cure her friend Rupert’s curse, which requires battling a secret society for a magical medallion.

What hasn’t changed is that this pigtailed, pint-sized hero remains armed to the teeth.

GIRL POWER

If you’ve not had the good fortune to play a Cally’s Caves game before, you’ll nonetheless already know the basics. This is run ’n’ gun territory, albeit with a small girl with a worryingly large arsenal replacing a stereotypical muscle-bound hulk.

She leaps about, shooting anyone – or anything – that gets in her way, and hacks open chests to grab bling. When a level’s suitably empty of loot and life, she seeks out an exit and moves on to the next sprawling level.

From the structure to the chunky pixelated graphics, the game comes across like a love letter to classic console fare. And although there’s the odd slippy screen moment with touchscreen buttons that pepper the display, this outing mostly feels properly tuned to smartphones.

CHECKPOINT CALLY

Mostly, this is because Cally’s Caves 4 is a game that rewards patience. Wade in all guns blazing and you can very easily become trapped between deranged footballers overhead kicking you in the chops, chefs lobbing meat cleavers about, and more traditionalist foes with massive guns. (Cally’s Caves 4 is a bit quirky in its take on the world – just go with it.)

If you die, you’re also hurled back to the most recently triggered checkpoint, which might be several hard-fought levels back. Ouch. Hit a particularly tough section you just can’t crack and this nudges the game worryingly close to a Groundhog Day grind; mostly, though, it makes you think a bit, rather than holding down fire and recklessly blazing ahead.

CAN YOU BERA IT?

Further smart design decisions are evident throughout. The way the weapons level up is particularly nice, based on how often they’re used to shoot enemies. And Cally get some new moves in the game, being able to auto-fire, and also ‘strafe’ – which means running away while still blasting enemies in the face.

A psychotic ninja bear cub, Bera, makes regular appearances, too. His levels play at a faster tempo than those featuring Cally, which occasionally get bogged down in the durability of her foes. The change of pace is refreshing – and it’s amusing seeing a flurry of paws take out enemies that elsewhere barely flinch on being shot a dozen times.

In all, then, four games in and Cally shows no signs of going stale; and in a gaming world full of gruff heroes, it’s refreshing to see a girl leaping about, blasting everything in sight.


Cally’s Caves 4 is available for iOS. The main game is free, but ad-supported. An Android port is planned for early 2018.

Nvidia’s latest GeForce drivers optimised for Star Wars: Battlefront II

 

It’ll fix up your graphical experience, but it won’t fix the loot boxes.

Nvidia’s latest GeForce 388.31 WHQL driver has just dropped, and it offers an optimised gaming experience for Star Wars: Battlefront II, as well as further tweaks for both Destiny 2 and Injustice 2.

The drivers also fix an issue with stuttering caused by GPU monitoring tools, as well as adding SLI profiles for EVE Valkyrie – Warzone and Battlefront II. The new Star Wars game also gets a 3D Vision profile, as does Injustice 2, and the following modules have been updated to new versions:

NView – 148.92
HD Audio Driver – 1.3.35.1
NVIDIA PhysX System Software – 9.17.0524
GeForce Experience – 3.10.0.95
CUDA – 9.0

You can get, and learn more about, the new drivers here.