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Go read how the US government built a top-secret iPod right under Steve Jobs’ nose

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For a period of time starting in 2005, Apple allowed two US government contractors to work in its offices to develop a custom version of the iPod — but exactly what that iPod would do was a mystery, and remains so today, as shared in this fascinating story by former iPod engineer David Shayer that you should go read.

The story starts off like a novel:

It was a gray day in late 2005. I was sitting at my desk, writing code for the next year’s iPod. Without knocking, the director of iPod Software—my boss’s boss—abruptly entered and closed the door behind him. He cut to the chase. “I have a special assignment for you. Your boss doesn’t know about it. You’ll help two engineers from the US Department of Energy build a special iPod. Report only to me.”

That first paragraph sets the tone for the whole story, which has an abundance of cool details that only add to Apple’s legendary mythos of secrecy. For example:

Only four people at Apple knew about this secret project. Me, the director of iPod Software, the vice president of the iPod Division, and the senior vice president of Hardware. None of us still work at Apple. There was no paper trail. All communication was in person.

As for what the engineers were actually working on, here’s how Shayer describes it:

They wanted to add some custom hardware to an iPod and record data from this custom hardware to the iPod’s disk in a way that couldn’t be easily detected. But it still had to look and work like a normal iPod.

Shayer says he didn’t know what that custom iPod would be used for. But he guessed that they were “building something like a stealth Geiger counter,” which could have theoretically allowed people to record radioactivity levels while appearing to use a normal-looking iPod.

It all sounded like something out of a spy movie, but former iPod chief Tony Fadell says it’s all real. He should know: Fadell was vice president of iPod at the time.

You should take a few minutes to read Shayer’s whole story on TidBITS.

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Recommendations for improvement in Rocket League as a rookie

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buying Rocket League credits

Rocket League is a popular videogame that has been easily recognized by its curious gameplay, which combines the fast rocket-propelled vehicles with the bases of Soccer, where two rival teams must try to score goals against their opponent with a kind of ball. Although the gameplay of this videogame may seem a bit odd at first glance, it actually has some very well executed mechanics that can be quite addictive, requiring continuous training in order to improve over time.

Although Rocket League is a videogame with quite simple gameplay and mechanics to learn, it is extremely complex to be able to master them completely, since performing actions such as dominating the ball, moving strategically on the court, or even scoring goals, requires a lot of training and skill.

That said, here are some indispensable tips for newcomers to this videogame who want to significantly improve their gameplay and look for useful tricks to get the most out of Rocket League mechanics. These recommendations were provided by several very experienced Rocket League players, so they will be able to help any novice player, and will probably also provide some important data to many more advanced players. It should be noted that these tips can be applied to any version of the Rocket League, whether console or PC.

Mastering the use of cameras

One of the most important and complex game mechanics for mastering the Rocket League is undoubtedly the control of the cameras. Handling the camera in this videogame is complicated even for the most experienced players since it is necessary to know how to move the camera in each specific situation, so a lot of practice will be needed. However, knowing how to handle the camera is essential to know how to position yourself on the court, be able to see your teammates, have better control of the situations that arise, know the best way to attack your opponents, know how to position yourself to hit the ball better, among other important benefits in the games.

As all players know, Rocket League has two types of cameras: the fixed camera and the ball camera, which should be taken in turns during the games, since each one offers a better view in specific situations.

When you are very close to the ball it is better to leave the ball cam, as it will offer a less confusing view and help improve visual agility when hitting the ball. While the fixed camera is the most comfortable, as it does not require constant manipulation of the player, and is the most useful to see the ball from a distance and have some perspective, even when the ball moves very fast. But when it comes to backing up or getting a boost, it’s always better to use the ball cam to be able to see properly. It is also important to have good reflexes to change the camera at the right time because if we are using the ball cam and suddenly the ball comes to us, the situation will be difficult.

 

Knowing the characteristics of each vehicle in order to take advantage of them

One of the most important tips to improve in Rocket League is to know the different vehicles in the game, because all of them are different, both in their external form and in their parameters. The vehicles in this videogame can be differentiated by the amount of boost they need to accelerate, the weight they have, the speed they can reach, and their acceleration. These parameters can be very subtly different in each vehicle, but they can make a big difference when driving them.

As far as the shapes and dimensions of the vehicles in the Rocket League are concerned, the difference becomes more noticeable and it can be said that each vehicle has its advantages and disadvantages. For example: Aerodynamic vehicles like Paladin are the best to move in the air, while small vehicles like Gizmo are very fast on the ground, and thanks to their small size they can avoid rival vehicles much better, but both types of vehicles hit the ball less strongly than the others. Large vehicles such as Merc are the most effective in reaching aerial balls or those that are directed at walls, and due to their size, they have a larger impact zone, which will allow them to perform frontal strikes with greater power.

Learning to move strategically around the court

It’s pretty obvious that Rocket League gameplay is almost entirely based on soccer, and as everyone knows, soccer isn’t just about running and chasing a ball, it’s something much more complicated than that.

A key element to mastering Rocket League is know how to move around the court and analyzing exactly when to attack and defend, which is achieved through constant practice. 

It is necessary that the players read the game before positioning themselves on the field, for example: If we are playing in 3vs3 and our whole team is focused only on the attack, it is very likely that when the ball bounces to the opposite direction it will end up providing the opponent with a goal against us, since there will be no one in a correct position to save the ball, so it is advisable to always place a player in the center of the field or in the opposite zone so that he can save the ball when a harmful bounce occurs. Although that formation is quite simple, at the base to be able to get a position that covers both attack and defense.

When moving within the court, it is also important to know how to leave space for our teammates, as it is quite common for rookies to get very close to their teammates until they end up getting in the way, so it is important to keep your own spaces when it is time.

Learning to work as a team

Rocket League is a videogame that focuses more on multiplayer, both competitive and cooperative, so teamwork will be paramount in order to defeat rivals. Teamwork within Rocket League is largely based on complementing our teammates in whatever way necessary, trusting them, and avoiding getting in their way. It is also necessary to analyze our teammates until we can deduce a little bit about their way of playing, their state during the game, their amount of boost, their position on the court, their attacking or defensive skills, among other aspects. It should be noted that it is much better to play with friends, as that way there will be fewer communication problems, the roles of each member of our team will be better defined, and it will also be more fun.

Learning to take advantage of the scenarios

It should be clear that Rocket League scenarios are designed in a strategic way, so each of its corners has a purpose. That said, it is quite necessary to learn how to shorten the path and avoid opponents through stage walls, and to take advantage of the walls, it is necessary to carefully visualize the court and act at the right time. It is also important not to lose sight of the ball when looking at the stage, as that way you can better determine its trajectory in case it bounces. For both attacking and defending, taking advantage of the stage is of paramount importance in order to achieve victory.

Another effective method to improve in Rocket League is to make the most of the various foreign markets focused on this game. Among the several marketplaces that can be obtained nowadays, one of the most recommended is undoubtedly Eldorado.gg, since this platform has been recognized for guaranteeing security in the sales of its users, for its easy to handle interface, and for offering a huge amount of items related to the popular Psyonix game, where the possibility of buying Rocket League credits in large quantities stands out, as well as the possibility of getting accounts, avatar borders, rare wheels for vehicles, or even trails at the best price.

Having said all that, it is hoped that these tips can be of help to those who wish to improve much more in Rocket League and can achieve their own style of play more easily. Although the tips were quite basic, they turn out to be the key to understand a little more about the mechanics that can be used in Rocket League, and they also highlight the most important thing to improve in this videogame, which is a constant practice.

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Republican leader shares faked video of disabled activist on Twitter

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A Sunday tweet from Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) showing a video of activist Ady Barkan got a “manipulated media” label from Twitter. Barkan has ALS and speaks through voice assistance.

In the video, a conversation between Barkan and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Barkan asks “But do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?” The version Scalise tweeted edits in the words “for police,” to the end of the question, words which Barkan says in a different context earlier in the video.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed in an email to The Verge that the tweet was labeled “based on our Synthetic and Manipulated Media policy.” As of 10:45PM ET Sunday, the tweet with the manipulated video appears to have been deleted from Scalise’s account.

The video was first noticed by Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel.

In the original video, Barkan asks Biden about what he thinks could be done about police violence. “We can reduce the responsibilities assigned to the police and redirect some of the funding for police into mental health counseling, and affordable housing,” he says. Later in the clip, he asks “do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?” to which Biden responds, “yes.”

The edited version of the clip in Scalise’s tweet, adding the words “for police,” at the end of that question, makes it appear that Barkan is asking Biden to defund police completely, a position Biden has said he does not support.

Scalise spokesperson Lauren Fine said in an email to The Verge on Sunday that it was clear in the video that Barkan was asking if Biden was open to redirecting funding away from police.

“Obviously, for a one-minute Twitter video featuring several short clips, we condensed that to the essence of what he was asking, as is common practice for clips run on TV and social media, no matter the speaker; we paired the police portion with Barkan’s final question for clarity because we couldn’t include an entire 3-mintue clip in a one minute montage,” Fine said. “We believe Biden’s position and answer is clear regardless: when asked twice, he says “yes” he is open to redirecting funding away from the police, and that is clear in our video.”

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Barkan asked Scalise to take the video down. “These are not my words. I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts,” Barkan tweeted. “You and your team have doctored my words for your own political gain. Please remove this video immediately. You owe the entire disability community an apology.”

Joe Biden echoed the sentiment in a tweet Sunday night. “This video is doctored — and a flagrant attempt to spread misinformation at the expense of a man who uses assistive technology,” Biden said. “It should be removed. Now.”

Late Sunday night, Scalise tweeted that he would “honor the request of Ady Barkan and remove the portion of his interview from our video.”

A Twitter spokesperson did not elaborate on what specifically in Scalise’s tweet warranted the “manipulated” tag. But if the video was doctored, it violates the social media platform’s policy, which states it’s “most likely to take action … on more significant forms of alteration, such as wholly synthetic audio or video or content that has been doctored (spliced and reordered, slowed down) to change its meaning.”

Social media platforms have tried, with varying degrees of success, to moderate falsified content including “deepfake” videos. Twitter’s policy, for instance, won’t apply to media that has been “edited in ways that do not fundamentally alter their meaning,” such as color-corrected video or retouched photos.

The House of Representatives Ethics Committee announced earlier this year that members who share “deep fakes or other audio-visual distortions intended to mislead the public” could be in violation of the House’s Code of Official Conduct. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tweeted Sunday that Scalise “must take down the doctored video and apologize immediately.”

Scalise’s tweet appeared to have limited engagement as of Sunday afternoon, with no retweets showing in the counter at the bottom of the tweet. In response to an inquiry from The Verge, a Twitter spokesperson pointed to its manipulated media policy, which states that among other actions, Twitter may reduce a tweet’s visibility, which prevents it from being recommended.

Twitter has previously labeled several of President Trump’s tweets with the “manipulated media” tag, including a June tweet that edited video of two children playing to appear that one was chasing the other, and to mimic CNN’s chryon format to make it look like the clip ran on the cable network (it did not).

UPDATE August 30th 2:45PM ET Added comment from Scalise spokesperson.

UPDATE August 30th 7:37PM ET: Added statement from Ady Barkan.

UPDATE August 30th 8:28PM ET: Added statement from Joe Biden.

UPDATE August 30th 11:05PM ET: Added new comment from Scalise and information that the original tweet appears to be deleted, and comment from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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Why Should Anyone Use Virtual Machine: Practical Reasons

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Virtual machines, or VMs, are becoming a trend in today’s world. They have millions of uses starting from professional bug testing, virus testing, etc. to privacy-related uses that normal everyday users have a vast interest in. Essentially a virtual machine is a software that lets you virtualize a specific operating system. This means that on your Windows machine you may easily install a virtualization software where you can install Linux, for example, and continue utilizing the system as needed to try and write scripts in bash, bug test your application, etc. Any operating system can be virtualized. This may be Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, etc.

There are a number of good free virtualization options out there starting from the most popular VirtualBox, to free versions of VMware. All you need to have is a virtualization application and an International Organization for Standardization (.ISO) media images for operating systems one wants to use.

What is a Virtual Machine?

A virtual machine app creates a virtualized environment, which we simply call a virtual machine, that behaves exactly like a separate computer system. The specifications can be anything since the hardware is actually nonexistent it is what you set it up with. However, the performance is obviously dependent on the machine you are running the VM on. It runs exactly like any other application meaning that it’s just a process on your operating system.

The main operating system is called a host and virtual machine running any operating system – a guest. This is to keep things from becoming confusing for no good reason.

As we already mentioned the VM is virtualizing hardware. This means that the operating system is kept on a digital hard drive, which the guest operating system believes to be real. In reality, it’s just a huge file stored on your real hard drive.

A lot of end-users utilize these machines to keep their working environments separate. Here in the office, we have this data privacy expert who uses different virtual machines for all kinds of operations. He has one for online shopping, a different one for just recreational use, and one for working. It is a good way to separate what you do on the internet making it harder for sophisticated tracking systems to identify who you are. Not a lot of people may know but a lot of data violent companies (enter Google) utilize digital fingerprinting to identify specific users across devices. Some people utilize virtual machines to hide their online activities. In countries where certain online activities are forbidden VMs with added Virtual Private Network (VPN) services help citizens to participate in different online activities. For example, in India online gambling is illegal (except for Goa, Daman, and Sikkim) this is why a lot of people starting utilizing virtual machines to hide their identity not only online but locally as well. Playing online slots for real money is becoming popular and people are trying to keep their devices sanitized since they do not need to input any identifying credentials into the VM and just purge the machine from existence once they are done playing.

It is worth noting that virtualization adds some overhead to the system. This means that the virtualized operating system is not going to perform as well as a host one. Things depend a lot on the VM software we use. Some, like VirtualBox, aren’t as good at transferring the GPU heavy workload to the guest systems so it is not the best when it comes to playing online games. However, more sophisticated (and expensive) programs like VMware make it more or less possible to not only play browser games but graphically demanding ones at that.

What Applications Do VMs Have?

Aside from fun stuff that we have already discussed above VMs are used for serious work-related stuff as well. First of all, professionals use this to get a feel for new upgrades that came out for the system to see if their applications make or break before upgrading the host OS.

Other good known applications are running operating system-specific software on a different host system. Meaning that if one is using Linux, for example, as the main OS and needs something done on a Windows exclusive application. Other uses are if one wants to run older applications like the ones written for Windows XP, 2000, or anything else.

Virtual Machines are sandboxed. This means that the guest system is isolated from the host. Software inside of the VM (if set up correctly) cannot escape the chains of the VM and therefore is relatively safe to use. This means that VM is used to test applications or even websites you do not trust. Security experts run different types of malware on the Virtual Machines to see how they operate and test possible solutions to the issues. This may be anything from a Trojan to ransomware like WannaCry. There are loads of channels on YouTube that happily showcase the effects of such programs on the systems using VMs.

It is worth noting that older operating systems are deemed unsafe to use at this point due to the fact that the support for them is canceled. This means that there are no new security patches coming out. So it is very much recommended, if necessary, to run them in a virtual machine.

What to Use?

There are loads of different virtualization software. However, we have a list of some of the most trusted ones down below which will get you started easily.

VMware Player – is free software developed by the VMware themselves. It runs on both Windows and Linux and this particular iteration is free. Although, there are multiple advanced features that are locked behind a paywall. The upgraded version is called VMware Workstation.

VMware Fusion – is basically the same as VMware Workstation but for macOS. Unfortunately, they do not release a free version VMware Player for the mac users therefore one is forced to buy Fusion. However, due to the fact that it is paid the program offers advanced features straight from the get-go.

VirtualBox – is a kind of a fan favorite when it comes to online communities. First of all, it runs on every major operating system like Windows, Linux, and macOS. Secondly, there are no advanced features hidden behind a payment. It is free and easy to use, a great entry into virtualization as a whole. As an addition, some of the features that VMware locks behind payment VirtualBox offers for free. However, it does not have a good Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) virtualization capabilities. Thus, if one wants to make a gaming virtual machine VirtualBox is not the one you need.

Parallels Desktop – is another option available for macOS users. This software is marketed towards average users who want to run windows applications on their Apple devices. It is not a free software however offers a lot of polished capabilities.

There are loads of other virtualization software as well. Linux, for example, has its own Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) software while Microsoft has Hyper-V integrated into their Professional and Enterprise version Windows 10s. These can work extremely well, however, they are not made with the most user-friendly interfaces and thus are targeting more professional users.

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