Posts with «loans» label

This kid just became the first person to beat NES Tetris

Tetris is one of the most popular and enduring video games of all time, with versions on just about every console, computer and gadget. Many of these iterations have endings baked into story modes and the like, but the original endless mode was considered unbeatable by humans, until now. A 13-year-old boy has become the first person to ‘beat’ the NES version of Tetris, 34 years after it originally released back in 1989, as announced by YouTuber aGameScout.

The reason we put ‘beat’ in quotes is due to the nature of the achievement. Oklahoma teenager Willis Gibson, also known as Blue Scuti on YouTube, didn’t access an authorized ending, as there isn’t one. Instead, he played the game so perfectly for so long that it forced a kill screen that crashed the game. These kill screens are usually caused by an overflow error that occurs when you speed the game up so much that the software can’t keep up.

The teen achieved this feat after 38 minutes of gameplay and captured the moment on video. He’s the first person to do this, but not the first, uh, entity. An AI program called StackRabbit forced a kill screen with the NES Tetris back in 2021. Score one for the humans!

This was done by incorporating a gameplay style called the rolling technique, which has players glide their fingers along the bottom of an NES controller and use that momentum to roll the controller into the other hand. When done correctly, you can hit the D-pad up to 20 times per second. The method revolutionized competitive Tetris play a couple of years back. Prior to this achievement, the 13-year-old had already broken the game’s high score record, level achieved record and the total number of lines cleared by using the rolling technique.

Gibson, aka Blue Scudi, told another YouTuber that he’s dedicating the achievement to his late father, who recently passed away in December. He also said that the gameplay session was so frantic that he couldn’t feel his fingers afterwards.

Achieving the mythical kill screen is something of a rite of passage for old-school games. If you’ve seen the documentary King of Kong, involving the arcade cabinet Donkey Kong, you know just how competitive it can be to snag those bragging rights. Players have hit the kill screen on Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Duck Hunt, and many others.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Cooler Master’s Framework case gives your laptop a second life

We’ve covered Framework’s modular, easy-to-repair laptops plenty here at Engadget and with good reason. Its mission is to end the need for users to toss out an otherwise perfect machine when just one component goes dead. But, as the company matures, it also has to tackle the issue of what happens when people choose to upgrade for performance reasons. An early buyer might choose to swap their 11th-gen Intel mainboard for any of its successors, or leap across the aisle to get the newly-released AMD edition. That leaves them with an otherwise perfectly functional mainboard they either have to sell on, turn into a hobby project or, more likely, leave on a shelf gathering dust as a just-in-case option. That’s why the company hooked up with Cooler Master to give you a far better alternative.

The Framework x Cooler Master Mainboard Case is a $39 barebones chassis into which you can put your existing Framework mainboard. For that, you get a cool-looking plastic frame and a kickstand, with four VESA mount screws buried inside and, uh, not much else. That’s the point, since you can either cannibalize other components from your laptop, use any compatible spares that are lying around, or pick up fresh ones from Framework on the cheap. I’d say this is aimed not at Framework’s dedicated and talented hobbyist community, which has made a raft of great 3D-printed cases on their own. Instead, it’s pointed at people like me, who break into a sweat whenever a DIY Perks video mentions soldering. (If you’re reading this, doubtless you’ve seen that video about preserving broken laptops but I also bet you’ve never tried to actually do it.)

Photo by Daniel Cooper / Engadget

If you’re starting from a clean slate, you can probably pick up a better-specced mini PC for less cash. But if you’re already inside Framework’s ecosystem, and you have one of those boards to hand, as well as some other spare components, then this makes perfect sense. After all, that first generation model I tested was packing a Core i7-1165G7; more than enough power for everyday tasks like browsing, productivity work or for use as a media center. The case is flexible enough to let you pick and choose what accessories you need or use, including pre-drilled holes for you to add SMA antennas rather than reusing a laptop WiFi module. Oh, and you’ll need to buy a 100W charger since the mainboard was designed to be used with a battery.

The byword is flexibility both in letting you choose how you want to craft your system, but also a comment on the build quality. $39 doesn’t buy you a lot, and the two halves of the plastic case are a lot flimsier than I would like. It doesn’t help that you don’t so much mount the components onto the backboard as place them in, and then they’re held in place when you screw the lid in. It’s easy enough to drop all of the parts in – although a lack of cable routing for the WiFi was an issue when it came to seal this all up. Not to mention, the first time I screwed it all in, the USB-C ports for the expansion cards didn’t sit properly over the holes for them to pass through.

Photo by Daniel Cooper / Engadget

The only other roadblock to my initial setup was that I couldn’t get the unit to push video to the TV. You need to set the mainboard into Standalone mode, but the iFixit-style guides don’t make it massively clear about how you go about doing that. Especially if you spend half an hour in the BIOS looking for the setting to no avail before and after installing a batch of updates. In the end I just dumped the board back in the case to see if anything had changed and, to my surprise, it booted straight to the screen. It’s worth hoping Framework remembers its user base might have a broader range of abilities than it expects and that no instruction should be made off-hand.

Once I’d dealt with those teething woes and poked the WiFi cables back into place by shoving a screwdriver through the VESA mount hole, I was ready to go. Since this is a Framework laptop just outside its usual chassis, you get the same pick of USB-C expansion cards as usual. With a HDMI-out and a couple of USB-A ports for peripherals, I was streaming 4K video without issue just as soon as I’d signed into Plex. Fundamentally, for those of us too timid to even think about rolling their own hobby project, it’s tools like this that make these projects accessible.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

A big Analogue Pocket restock is coming, but cart adapters are delayed again

The acclaimed Analogue Pocket multi-system portable handheld console is a bona fide hit. It’s so popular, in fact, that it's been sold out for weeks. Have no fear, would-be purchasers. Analogue just announced a major restock. The consoles will be available to buy on December 4 at 11AM ET. The company promises that these orders will arrive in time for the holidays.

This restock only applies to the original black and white designs, and not those nifty limited edition colors, most of which remain sold out. If you miss the window on December 4, the company is doing another restock on December 8 at 11AM ET, but those won’t ship until February.

Analogue also announced a new operating system for the console, set to arrive in the next few days. Analogue Pocket OS v.1.2 fixes a bunch of bugs, adds support for new controllers, updates the music-making app Nanoloop and allows for new openFGPA developer tools. That’s just the first update. Analogue Pocket OS v2.0 arrives before the end of the month and gives third-party developers access to the original display modes, like the iconic Game Boy aesthetic, among other features. These updates follow last year’s OS v1.1.

It’s not just the Pocket getting some love. The Analogue Duo is finally shipping on December 11, three years after the original announcement and over six months after pre-orders went live. The Duo is an all-in-one system that promises to play every TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine title, even Bonk’s Adventure, a game that gave me no end of stress in childhood for obvious name-related reasons. The Duo plays both cartridges and compact discs. It’ll even run games that originally required the Arcade RAM add-on included as part of the Japan-only SuperGrafx console. Again, Analogue promises deliveries by the holidays.

The company’s also selling a limited-edition white dock for the Pocket, which also goes on sale December 4. However, this freshly-hued dock is more expensive than the original black model, at $130 instead of $100.

It’s not all good news for fans of retro gaming. Analogue announced a delay for the Pocket Adapter Set until February. This set adds new consoles to the lineup, so the system will be able to play TurboGrafx-16 cartridges, Neo Geo Pocket Color cartridges and Atari Lynx carts.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

IKEA's new smart home sensors focus on safety and avoiding water damage

IKEA isn't going to be making a play for top tech company anytime soon, but it has kept up an offering of solid smart home devices. Its latest releases are a trio of affordable smart home sensors for everything from open doors to water leakage.

First in the lineup is the Parasoll door and window sensor. You can mount it on your door or window (basically any access point) and receive a notification if they open or close unexpectedly. It also pairs directly with an IKEA smart bulb. Speaking of light, there's the Vallhorn wireless motion sensor, which activates lights when movement is detected. You can choose what color and amount of light you want, with the sensor controlling up to 10 IKEA smart bulbs. Rounding out the new offerings is the Barding water leakage sensor, which works to alert you about any rogue water before your floor finds out. The device can send you a mobile notification, or trigger an alarm.

The sensors are small and white, lending themselves to blending in better throughout the house (unless you really love color). All the sensors are compatible with IKEA's Dirigera Hub, but only Vallhorn works with the older Tradfri gateway.

IKEA points to people's desire to feel comfortable and secure in their homes as motivation for these new products. "Everyone wants to feel safe at home and we feel excited about entering a new smart product area that creates not only a better, but safer life at home," Stjepan Begic, Product Design Developer at IKEA of Sweden, said in a statement. "We believe these products can provide our customers with peace of mind and a greater sense of control and comfort." The three new devices follow the release of previous sensors by IKEA, like Vindstyrka, which measures air quality.

The US pricing isn't available yet, but the Parasoll will be €9.99 in Europe, with the Vallhorn and Barding sensors priced at €7.99 and €9.99, respectively. These numbers could transfer over directly into USD or be slightly higher. The sensors should be available in the US in January (Vallhorn), April (Parasoll) and July (Barding) in 2024.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Study shows AI program could verify Wikipedia citations, improving reliability

You can't trust everything on a Wikipedia page, which is why it's important that you refer to the original sources cited in the footnotes. But sometimes, even the primary sources can lead you astray. Researchers have developed an AI focused on improving the reliability of Wikipedia references by training the algorithms to identify citations on the website that are questionable.

The program, called SIDE, does two things: check if a primary source is accurate and suggest new ones. However, the AI operates under the assumption that a Wikipedia claim is true. This means that, while it can check for the validity of a source, it can't actually verify claims made in an entry.

In a study, people preferred the AI’s suggested citations to the original 70 percent of the time. The researchers found that in nearly 50 percent of the cases, SIDE presented a source that was already being used by Wikipedia as the top reference. And 21 percent of the time, SIDE was one step ahead when it churned out a recommendation that was already deemed appropriate by human annotators in the study.

While the AI appears to demonstrate it can effectively help an editor verify Wikipedia claims, the researchers admit that alternative programs could outperform their current design in both quality and speed. SIDE is limited in its capabilities — namely, the program only considers references corresponding to web pages. In reality, Wikipedia cites books, scientific articles and info presented through other media beyond text like images and video. But beyond its technical limits, the whole premise of Wikipedia is that any writer anywhere could assign a reference to a topic. The researchers suggest that the use of Wikipedia itself could be limiting to the study. They allude that individuals who plug citations into the website could permeate bias depending on the nature of the topics in question.

Meanwhile, we all know that any program, especially an AI that is dependent on training, could be prone to the exposure of the biases of its programmer. The data used to train and evaluate SIDE’s models could be limited in that regard. But still, the benefits of using AI to streamline fact-checking, or at least use it as a supportive tool, could have reverberating applications elsewhere. Wikipedia and social media companies alike need to contend with bad actors and bots that flood digital town squares with false information. This is especially true and important now more than ever, in the wake of misinformation spreading around the Israel-Hamas war and the upcoming presidential elections in the US. The need to mitigate misinformation online could be catalyzed with AI tools, like SIDE, designed for this exact purpose. But there are still some advances that need to be made before it can.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Goldman Sachs might be trying to offload Apple's credit card and savings accounts

Goldman Sachs, Apple's banking partner for its credit card and high-yield savings account, is seemingly having doubts about those products. According to The Wall Street Journal, Goldman is looking to get out of the consumer lending business, which could have implications for Apple Card and the associated savings account.

The report suggests that several senior Goldman executives want the company to ditch its remaining consumer lending products — those it offers with Apple as well as the General Motors credit card. No final decision is said to have been made, though the future of Goldman's consumer products may become a little clearer when the finance company reports its quarterly earnings on Tuesday.

Consumer lending efforts such as Apple Card may have been a mistake for Goldman. The business unit that oversees those and GreenSky (a "buy now, pay later" company Goldman bought for around $2.2 billion last year and is selling at a loss) has lost billions of dollars.

Meanwhile, Goldman has run afoul of regulators. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has investigated Goldman's handling of credit card billing errors and refunds. Unlike with other card programs, Apple Card bills go out at the beginning of each month. That's said to put more pressure on Goldman customer service workers who deal with complaints and billing issues. Issuing bills on a rolling basis may alleviate that strain. However, Goldman has reportedly been unsuccessful in convincing Apple to move to a more typical billing cycle.

If Goldman isn't able to reduce expenses for its credit cards, it may try to sell the Apple and GM partnerships, according to the report. That may prove a difficult prospect, given that customers have deposited billions of dollars into Apple savings accounts. If Goldman manages to get another bank to take over the Apple partnership (including those hefty savings accounts), the Journal noted that the finance company may have to raise expensive emergency funding to cover any shortfall.

Goldman is said to have had talks with American Express about taking over its consumer products. However, Amex reportedly has concerns regarding the Apple Card’s loss rates and other factors Goldman has been attempting to remedy. Amex leaders are also said to have bristled at the fact the Apple Card operates on the Mastercard network.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

‘My Netflix’ puts your downloads and in-progress shows first

Netflix's interface can sometimes make you wade through screens and tabs just to find the show you wanted to watch, but it's hopefully getting easier as of today. The streaming service is rolling out a My Netflix tab on iOS (Android in early August) that puts everything you're watching (or want to watch) in one place. That includes in-progress videos and downloads, of course, but you'll also see My List items, notifications, shows with viewed trailers and other earmarked content. In theory, you can quickly start a series without remembering how you learned about it.

The tab is available worldwide, and will replace the Downloads section when it reaches the app. Netflix notes the tab will grow the more you interact with the platform, so there's a strong incentive to leave likes or add to your viewing queue. The Home tab will remain if you're more interested in discovering new material.

To some extent, this is an admission that the Netflix front-end can sometimes be overwhelming when you're just trying to find that show you were eager to watch. However, it's also a way to keep viewers coming back. In theory, you're more likely to stay subscribed if you have an easier time finding the titles you want to watch next. This also helps Netflix boost interaction and identify popular shows using more than viewing counts.

The company isn't hurting for demand. Netflix's password crackdown appears to be paying off with a surge in subscriptions from customers that previously borrowed friends' accounts. The feature isn't likely to sustain that momentum by itself. With that said, this may give new customers an incentive to continue paying instead of switching to rivals like Amazon.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The Morning After: Virgin Galactic's first private passenger spaceflight will launch next month

Virgin Galactic, having flown its first commercial spaceflight in late June, is ready to take civilians to the edge of space, briefly. The company plans to launch its first private passenger flight, Galactic 02, as soon as August 10th. Virgin isn't yet revealing the names of everyone involved, but there will be three passengers aboard, alongside crew.

The company says it's establishing a "regular cadence" of flights – and it needs that. Virgin Galactic has operated at a loss for years and lost $500 million in 2022 alone. The business won't recoup all those losses anytime soon, even at $450,000 per ticket. But the focus is pretty clear: make the case for space tourism… at least for the one-percenters.

– Mat Smith

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Twitter finally begins paying some of its creators

Blue subscribers will need a significant following to get a cut.

Twitter’s ad-revenue sharing program for creators has officially launched — and it’s reportedly already begun paying eligible Blue subscribers. Elon Musk announced the initiative in February, but with scant details about how it would work, nobody knew quite what to expect. However, some high-profile users report they’ve received notifications about incoming deposits. The bar is high to receive a transfer from the Musk-owned social media company. The support post says the revenue-sharing system applies to Twitter Blue or Verified Organizations subscribers with at least five million post impressions in each of the past three months. One user claims they’re set to receive over $24,000. Going to need more to get into space, my friend.

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Sony's $90 PS5 accessibility controller arrives December 6th

The highly customizable Access controller comes with several buttons and stick caps.


Sony’s Access controller will be available worldwide on December 6th. It costs $90 and pre-orders open July 21st. The new accessibility-focused controller comes with four 3.5mm aux ports, enabling players to connect external buttons, switches and other accessories. The box includes 19 button caps and three stick caps to help you find a configuration that works best for you. You can even pair up to two Access controllers and one DualSense together to create a "single virtual controller." That means two or even three people could control the same character, granting friends and family members the option to lend a helping hand.

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Farewell ‘FIFA’: ‘EA Sports FC 24’ will hit consoles and PC September 29th

It’ll bring women's players to Ultimate Team for the first time.

EA's long-standing partnership with FIFA ended after FIFA 23, marking a new era for EA's flagship soccer series. EA Sports FC 24 will hit PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on September 29th. EA says more than 19,000 authentic players, 30-plus leagues and over 100 stadiums will be represented in the new game. The company has also secured exclusive deals with the English Premier League and UEFA to use their branding and retain access to competitions like the Champions League.

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AP and OpenAI enter two-year partnership to help train algorithmic models

It’s a major news-sharing agreement.

The Associated Press (AP) and ChatGPT parent company OpenAI have reached a news-sharing agreement, but it doesn’t involve AI chatbots quickly churning out content but enabling better training of OpenAI’s algorithmic models. It looks like AP will receive access to OpenAI’s proprietary technology as part of the exchange. AP doesn’t use generative AI to write articles, but it already uses similar technologies to automate corporate earnings reports and cover local sporting events.

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Sony's $90 PS5 accessibility controller arrives on December 6th

Sony has revealed when PlayStation 5 players will be able to snap up its new accessibility-focused controller and just how much the peripheral will cost. The Access controller will be available worldwide on December 6th. It costs $90 and preorders will open on July 21st. Folks in Canada will need to pay $120 CAD for the peripheral. It costs £80 in the UK, €90 in Europe and 12,980 yen in Japan.

The highly customizable controller comes with four 3.5mm aux ports, enabling players to connect external buttons, switches and other accessories. The box includes 19 button caps and three stick caps to help users find a configuration that works best for them. For instance, they might prefer a button cap that takes up two button sockets or a dome-shaped stick cap instead of the standard one. In addition, Sony is including 23 swappable button cap tags to help players identify which input they map to each button.

Players can set up as many as 30 profiles for the Access controller with different button mappings and stick settings for each. There's the option to disable certain buttons to prevent accidental pressing and users will be able to toggle commands on or off.

As Sony previously revealed, folks can pair up to two Access controllers and one DualSense together to create a "single virtual controller." That means two or even three people could control the same character, granting friends and family members the option to lend a helping hand when needed. 

Isabelle Tomatis, Sony Interactive Entertainment's Brand, Hardware and Peripherals vice-president, wrote in a blog post that the company has been working on the controller for five years with the help of accessibility organizations and experts. The aim was to develop a kit that "enables gamers with disabilities to play more comfortably and for longer periods, empowering more players to share in the joy of gaming."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Ford secures $9.2 billion loan from US Department of Energy to build EV battery factories

The United States government has reaffirmed its commitment to move EV production to its shores instead of relying on foreign entities. The US Department of Energy's Loan Program Office (LPO) has announced a conditional $9.2 billion loan for BlueOval SK (BOSK) — owned by Ford and South Korean battery producer SK On — to build three battery manufacturing plants, Bloomberg reports

The loan is the biggest the LPO has given out yet — almost four times the size of last year's $2.5 billion loan for Ultium Cell — a joint venture between General Motors and LG. The loan's scale is thanks, in part, to last year's passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which led to the LPO's lending budget increasing to $400 billion. For context, in the previous 14 years, the LPO has dispersed about $33 billion. The extra capital will certainly be necessary to achieve the Biden-Harris administration goal for EVs to make up half of US car sales by 2030. 

There will be two plants in Kentucky and one in Tennessee, with all three producing batteries for Ford and Lincoln's upcoming EV. The car manufacturer also announced plans for a Michigan-based LFP battery plant earlier this year. The production ramp-up comes as Ford aims to roll out two million EVs by 2026, with the All-Electric Explorer, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit already available and an EV lineup in the works for Lincoln. In comparison, Ford produced about 132,000 EVs in 2022. Ford also recently secured its EV drivers access to 12,000 Tesla's charging points across North America.

The LPO stresses that the loan will also bring career opportunities to the areas, creating 5,000 construction jobs and another 7,500 operation jobs once the plants start running. The investment also aligns with President Biden's Justice40 Initiative that 40 percent of specific federal investments (including LPO loans) go to disadvantaged communities. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at