Web Tech Mojo



When Google locks you out of your account, begging the internet for help is your first (and last) resort – Android Police

Google has a long-standing reputation for inadequate developer support — especially if you’re a smaller, independent studio or team. But the company’s general customer support is also lacking, and today’s horror story is the kind that’s likely to encourage a Google Takeout backup, just in case. Midnight last night, one customer’s Google account was fully disabled. They claim that with no warning and no explanation, the full contents of their Google account — email, photos, Google Pay balance, even the ability to pay their internet bill via Google Fiber and cellphone bill via Google Fi — were unceremoniously snatched away.

What happened?

Take this all with a grain of salt, since we can never be sure we’re getting the full story, but the details we do have are terrifying.

Last night, the email above was sent to a Google customer named Chris, explaining that his Google account has been disabled because “it looks like it was used in a way that seriously violated Google’s policies.” The email arrived while they were asleep, and no additional information regarding the reason for the account’s suspension was provided. Thinking it must have happened in error, Chris submitted an appeal, but it was denied, leaving him without any apparent options and no access to the decade-old Google account.

For some of us, that might just be a mild inconvenience, but Google’s services are both many and pervasive. If you’re locked out of your Google account and the only company service you use is Gmail, you might lose access to your emails, but Chris was much more deeply invested, using Google Fi for phone service, Google Fiber for internet access, Google Pay to settle debts, Google Drive for school and work, and Google Photos for photo backups. This left him with no way to pay phone or internet bills, unable to access his Google Pay balance, and with nearly a decade of photos and documents gone. And even that basic loss of email access is a massive problem right now — Chris, like many of us during the pandemic, is unemployed, and can’t answer any responses to job applications while locked out of the account.

On top of that, email is often used for two-factor authentication, including some financial services and healthcare. This loss of email account access can also mean third-party services entirely unrelated to Google may be affected, and Chris may temporarily lose access to both doctor and bank thanks to Google’s actions.

Forget identity theft or hacking, you have a new digital horror

Most of us probably think the biggest internet service nightmare we could suffer is identity theft or hacking (and we’ve heard some real digital horror stories there, too), but this simple, one-sided action by Google can be massively destructive to our lives, equating to terms-of-service-sanctioned destruction of all our digital property if we aren’t wise enough to make regular backups. And, sadly, it’s also becoming commonplace.

Just last month, Terraria developer Andrew Spinks was also locked out of his Google account for what was thought to be a bunk YouTube terms of service violation. The action led to the temporary cancelation of his massively popular game for Google’s game-streaming platform Stadia. While Spinks had enough influence to raise attention to the matter and seek both clarity regarding the problem and resolution from Google, others aren’t so lucky.

A couple years back in 2019, Google handed out account suspensions in bulk to hundreds of users for interacting in a choose-your-own-adventure livestream YouTube Original series. While viewers were warned that Google’s spambot detection was likely to be an issue if they were too enthusiastic in their participation, some did not take the warning close enough to heart, and the YouTuber behind the broadcast even had to step in to help his viewers seek a solution.

All this further ignores the many smaller account suspensions that happen silently all the time, leaving customers screaming into Google’s automated, uncaring void. In many cases, customers may not even know why their accounts were suspended — Google never tells them.

The same is true for Chris, who tells us the reason behind the suspension remains a mystery. In some cases, Google suspends an account to help the account holder themselves — if, for instance, it’s been hacked, that can protect their data. But the closest Chris has to an explanation is a late-night backup configured via Google’s Backup and Sync tool, set for that time of day to save bandwidth, and which made a record of video editing projects, potentially containing copyrighted music, though unshared.

It remains to be seen if Chris will ever hear more on the subject. He claims that he is unable to get ahold of a “real person” to explain what happened, and customer service reps they have spoken to simply point to Google’s support site. We’ve reached out to Google for more information regarding both this particular instance and the company’s account suspension practices in general, but a response wasn’t immediately forthcoming. Right now, Chris claims to have “resigned myself that the account is likely gone forever.”

Thankfully, Chris has raised a big enough stink over on Reddit and Twitter to gather attention, so Google may yet address their individual case with greater transparency, but not everyone is so lucky. In the meantime, I know I’ll be backing up my own Google account data tonight, and I recommend you do the same.

Apex Legends Switch Frame Rate And Resolution Detailed – Nintendo Life

Apex Legends on Switch© EA

Apex Legends is officially out on the Switch today and as you might have heard it’ll offer cross-play – allowing you to take on players on other systems.

So, what will it be like for Nintendo players in battle? During a chat with Famitsu, Panic Button’s technical director, Andy Boggs, said the game would run 720p docked, 576p in handheld mode and has a frame rate of 30FPS across both modes.

Although a lot of effort has gone into the Switch version of the game, in battle – competitors on other platforms could potentially have double the frame rate, if not more. While there may be some performance limitations, Andy told Nintendo Life there were no sacrifices or compromises in terms of features or content:

“Not really as far as features or content, everything that’s there on other versions of the game should be there on Switch. I think the big challenge for us is always coming in and understanding what parts of the game that we can adapt and make changes to and optimize and what parts are so essential that we need to leave alone. I think ultimately the changes we had to make are not going to impact players’ experience with it. It’s still a great experience and it feels like playing Apex!”

Be sure to check out our full interview with Respawn and Panic Button here.

Apple Security Fixes Mean its Time to Update Your iPhones, iPads, Macs and Watches – Gizmodo

Illustration for article titled Apple Security Fixes Mean it's Time to Update Your iPhones, iPads, Macs and Watches

Photo: JOSH EDELSON / Stringer (Getty Images)

A newly released set of security fixes from Apple is “recommended for all users,” meaning that for anyone with an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch, it’s probably time for an update.

According to Apple, the patch will correct a security bug that left WebKit — the engine that powers Apple’s Safari browser — vulnerable to a memory corruption. Once users visited a web page containing the malicious code, the vulnerability could be exploited by attackers, who could then access the affected device and write malicious code onto it.

If the security fixes are applied, iPhones and iPads users will be updating to iOS and iPadOS 14.4.1, watchOS users would be updating to 7.3.2 and macOS Big Sur would be updating to version 11.2.3.

Despite being reported by Google and Microsoft, the bugs aren’t thought to have been actively exploited — unlike the three separate zero-day security flaws discovered in January. All three of the previous bugs had been “actively exploited,” Apple reported at the time, by hackers who found a way to chain the three vulnerabilities together in order to access the underlying iPhone software.

Apple users can secure their devices by heading to System Preferences, and then clicking on Software Update to check to see if there’s one available.

Jakks Pacific Reveals Super Mario Bowsers Airship Playset, Arriving This Fall – Nintendo Life

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If you’re a fan of Mario-themed merchandise and toys, you can’t go past Jakks Pacific’s Super Mario playsets. The toy brand has now revealed it will be expanding the existing line with this Bowser’s Airship Playset this Fall.

This set comes packaged with a 2.5 inch Mario figure and the airship features electronic music, spinning propellers, and rocking wheels. You’ll also be able to house all your Mario toys inside the ship.

Super Mario Bowser’s Airship Playset. Joining the #JAKKSToys and figures world this Fall! #MarioMonday #SuperMario

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Would you have any interest in adding a Bowser’s Airship set to your Mario toy collection? Leave a comment down below.

Report: Xbox will confirm Bethesda’s Game Pass future this week – Video Games Chronicle

Microsoft will reportedly publish a video presentation answering questions about its planned acquisition of Bethesda this week.

That’s according to sources cited by GamesBeat, which claims that the video will be published this Thursday, March 11, and explain what the ZeniMax deal means for Xbox Game Pass subscribers.

Specifically, it’s claimed that Microsoft will announce several Bethesda games will be coming to Game Pass soon.

In addition, it’s claimed that the Xbox firm will reiterate that any future and “contractually eligible” game from under the Zenimax umbrella will hit Game Pass at launch, like Microsoft’s other first-party titles.

According to GamesBeat’s sources, the video presentation is unlikely to detail future Bethesda titles. Instead, it’s claimed that Xbox and Bethesda are planning to hold separate showcases around E3’s planned dates in June to show off the likes of Starfield.

The events will be held separately, it’s claimed, but Microsoft could try to present them back-to-back as part of a double bill.

The report states that it’s unclear whether Microsoft and Bethesda will address the question of platform exclusivity.

Report: Xbox will confirm Bethesda’s Game Pass future this weekReport: Xbox will confirm Bethesda’s Game Pass future this week
Xbox will reportedly announce Bethesda Game Pass news this week.

Bethesda currently has two PS5 timed exclusives planned in Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, which Xbox has said it will honour, while PS5 owners will also be eager to know if Indiana Jones, Starfield and Elder Scrolls V will come to PlayStation.

Earlier today The European Union’s antitrust regulator approved Microsoft’s proposed $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax, it announced.

It’s the latest sign that the deal is moving closer to completion after private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners, which owned 25 percent of ZeniMax, removed the company from its website portfolio.

Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media will see Xbox Game Studios grow from 15 to 23 development teams.

Employing some 2,300 staff worldwide, Bethesda Softworks studios include Bethesda Game Studios (Fallout, Elder Scrolls), id Software (Doom), ZeniMax Online Studios (Elder Scrolls Online), Arkane (Dishonored, Prey), MachineGames (Wolfenstein), Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within), Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer recently said he believes that Bethesda’s development teams will be “very, very critical” to the future of the Xbox platform.


Dell’s new G15 is a speckled gaming laptop coming to China first – The Verge

Dell has launched its new G15 gaming laptop, which will be available first in China before coming to other regions around the world. The laptop’s industrial design is all-new, though the most notable feature might be the paint job.

Yep, those are paint flecks you see in the photos. Dell says the new G15 uses “low-VOC waterborne paint for a durable and environmentally conscious design;” it’s available in colorways including Spector Green with Speckles, Phantom Grey with Speckles, Dark Shadow Grey, and Obsidian Black. Our advice: go with the speckles.

We don’t have full specs for the new G15 just yet, but it can be outfitted with Nvidia RTX 3000-series graphics and has “three performance options ranging up to 115W of TDP.” The display is a 15.6-inch panel with a refresh rate of up to 360Hz. Dell says the G15’s thermals have been improved thanks to a design based on Alienware technology, and there’s an optional 4-zone RGB keyboard that makes use of AlienFX software for customization.

The new G15 will go on sale in China today, and global availability is set to follow at some point in April. We’ve asked Dell for further details.

The Privacy Problem With Androids Choice Screen – Gizmodo

Illustration for article titled The Privacy Problem With Android's 'Choice' Screen

Photo: Leon Neal (Getty Images)

About a year and a half ago, Google began auctioning off the chance to be one of the search engines that European users could choose as their default on Android devices. And for the past year and a half, we’ve seen some familiar ad-targeting giants continue to take those expensive slots.

This auction was the result of a massive antitrust case spearheaded by European authorities back in 2018. Aside from slamming the company with a $5 billion penalty, regulators also demanded that Google begin offering users a choice upon booting up their Android phones regarding the browser or search app they’d prefer to use, rather than requiring them to use Google’s own. Google obliged, but in the most Google way possible: by requiring that competitors financially duke it out for the chance to be featured in one of four search slots on the coveted Android choice screen.

The results for the latest auction are less than promising. When it comes to the choices, the truth is that tens of millions of Android users are largely going to be choosing between one of four non-Google options when it comes to search: Microsoft-owned Bing, GMX—which is owned by the German digital behemoth United Internet AG, or the ironically named PrivacyWall, which is owned by a major adtech outfit named Social Game Media.

As TechCrunch points out, the one thing that all of these players have in common is reaping immense profits from tracking and targeting users across search, in a way that’s strikingly similar to Google. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that in spite of these other options, the search giant is still, well, a search giant in the region. Aside from swallowing the majority of the search engine market internationally, Google pretty much takes upwards of 85% of the market share in European Union member countries.

When asked about the European Union’s failure to curb Google’s cutthroat behavior in the region, some of Google’s search competitors previously told the Washington Post that this was the natural result of letting Google fix its own problems. In other words, EU authorities literally let Google charge its rivals for the privilege of appearing on the Android selection menu—and challenge the company’s dominant position in the process. Who did they think would win?

Jen Shahs ex-designer traumatized after working for RHOSLC star – Page Six

Jen Shah’s former clothing designer, Koa Johnson, says he was left “traumatized” after a 10-month stint with the “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star.

On Friday, after alleged audio leaked of Shah berating the designer, Johnson told Page Six the incident occurred on Nov. 6, 2020, five days before the “RHOSLC” Season 1 premiere.

“It was a very, very stressful time,” Johnson — who was tasked with designing her outfit for the premiere — told us. “I wasn’t sleeping. I was not taking care of myself physically and mentally, but I was still operating on adrenaline.”

He added, “It was like the most traumatizing months of my life.”

While Johnson claims he doesn’t know who leaked the audio, he’s happy someone recorded it.

He also claimed that the incident was actually Shah’s fault because she caused the delays in getting the outfit — which she wore on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” that night — together.

Jen Shah wearing the suit Koa Johnson made for the "RHOSLC" premiere.
Jen Shah wearing the suit Koa Johnson made for the “RHOSLC” premiere.

“There was a delay on the fabric, which was on her part,” he claims. “I was waiting for her to get all the money transferred over to the credit card for it to be purchased. That process even delayed it more.”

Johnson says that he was finally able to make the purchase on Nov. 9, but had just 17-20 hours to turn around and make the two-piece suit for her.

During his short time with the 47-year-old reality star, Johnson designed around 12 looks for her, including her Biden-Harris dress, her cast photo dress and reunion dress.

“I really felt like she was a sister and I was her brother kind of situation,” he said, adding they’re both of Polynesian descent. “We came from the same blood, the same race.”

However, Johnson also alleges that Shah neglected to pay him for most of his work, claiming on Instagram he was last paid “in September even though I continued working through January.”

“A lot of the reason why I continued working with her [despite] those circumstances [was] because I truly cared for her,” he told us. “How we prove it to our siblings or to our sisters, our people that we look up to is that we do things because we show our love.”

Reps for Shah didn’t immediately get back to us.

Johnson — who also designed Heather Gay’s reunion frock — says he quit working for Shah on January 11, following the taping of the “RHOSLC” reunion. The final straw for him was when Shah didn’t give him a shoutout.

“I’m watching everybody go around saying who they’re wearing,” he recalled, “and Heather said me and then when it went to Jen, I was expecting her to say the same thing and say my name and she didn’t and that hurt me.”

He added, “That hurt me so much because it was the last dress that I was going to do for her for Season 1.”

Johnson hopes that speaking out about what he allegedly experienced will help others in similar situations.

“I have to speak my truth and hope that if there’s anybody else that is working in a hostile work environment, that they will come out and speak out about it,” he said, adding that he wants Shah to see it and “take responsibility for her actions and behaviors.”

“I know that’s been a problem during her Season 1 is not taking any responsibility or whatever because I was there for the witness. I really do wish her the best of luck for Season 2 — she’s going to need it.”

Verizon 4G speeds beat its nationwide 5G in new PCMag tests – The Verge

Verizon 4G appears to be getting even better than its nationwide 5G network, according to new tests conducted by PCMag’s Sascha Segan. After last week’s tweet suggesting that users turn off their phone’s 5G to conserve battery life, there seems to be a multitude of reasons for Verizon customers to stick with 4G right now.

Additional spectrum is making the difference for Verizon 4G right now, and not the C-band spectrum that’s been in the news recently. This is CBRS, a set of frequencies that sits near C-band. Verizon bid $1.89 billion on CBRS licenses last year and has been putting the newly acquired spectrum to work for its 4G service in certain locations (there are likely technical reasons, which Segan explains in his post, why Verizon isn’t using this spectrum for 5G just yet).

Segan found a couple of these spots and tested CBRS-assisted 4G speeds versus 5G. With the exception of range-limited, super-fast Ultra Wideband 5G, 4G won by a landslide. In one location, 4G download speeds reached 815 Mbps, while 5G based on Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (that’s the widespread but slower variety known as DSS) only hit 358 Mbps. This was a test of just a couple of locations of course, but Segan points out that it bodes well for the kinds of improvements we can expect when C-band becomes available.

So is there any reason for someone on Verizon to keep 5G active rather than switching to 4G? Maybe, Segan tells us. “If you’re in a spot with Verizon’s ‘UWB’ millimeter-wave 5G, it’s absolutely terrific. UWB is the fastest form of 5G available today. But the DSS ‘nationwide’ 5G just isn’t providing any advantage right now. I’d say, turn it off if you can and check back in a few months to see if they’ve improved the situation.”

The silver lining, of course, is that Verizon 4G is actually good — and getting even better for some. In the long term, it’ll be the C-band spectrum that will likely make the difference for Verizon 5G. “If you’re buying a Verizon phone soon and you’re interested in future performance, make sure it has C-band,” Segan says. In the meantime, unless you live next door to an Ultra Wideband cell site, you can probably turn off 5G and rest assured that you’re getting the best network performance possible for now.

The Switch-style Aya Neo handheld gaming PC is now on Indiegogo, starting at $789 – The Verge

The Aya Neo — a Nintendo Switch-style handheld gaming PC that promises to offer a full-fledged PC gaming experience in the palm of your hands — is now available to back on Indiegogo, starting at $6,120 HKD (~$789 USD) for the 500GB model.

This version of the Neo is technically the second, following the limited, sold-out run of the “Founder’s Edition” that Aya offered back in January. The new, broader release promises several improvements over that initial version, including:

  • An improved operating system
  • Reduced weight
  • The option to toggle rumble
  • Better buttons
  • Better power consumption and performance presets
  • Improvements to issues that caused resolution scaling problems or blurry screens

The company also showed off a new optional $47 dock that adds two USB 3.2 Gen 1 type-A ports, one HDMI port, one SD card slot, one MicroSD card slot, and an ethernet jack — another similar concept to the Switch.

The rest of the specs for the Aya Neo are still the same: a 7-inch 1280×800 IPS display, a 10-25W AMD Ryzen 4500U CPU, 16GB of LPDDR4x RAM, three USB-C ports, and up to 6 hours of estimated battery life. Don’t expect to play triple-A games at high settings, but we were able to competently run Star Wars: Squadrons at 60fps with the Founder’s Edition, and it had nearly enough power to play the unfinished Valheim on the go.

All that said, the Aya Neo is still a crowdfunded product from a first time company. And while it’s certainly encouraging that Aya has managed to ship its initial Founder’s Edition run of Neos, there’s still the usual elements of risk when it comes to crowdfunded products — even ones that are technically second-generation models.

But if you are willing to roll the dice, you can back the Aya Neo on Indiegogo for $6,120 HKD (roughly $789 USD) for the 500GB model or $6,750 HKD (approximately $869 USD) for the 1TB model, which is about 10 percent off of what the products are planned to sell for after the crowdfunding campaign. Shipping is planned for May.

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