News Roundup: Atari / Cities / Scanning

Atari’s Comeback, Cities: Skylines, and Facial Scanning

UPDATED October 10, 2017

Have I mentioned the Ataribox yet? It’s a surprising new console being developed by Atari themselves that’s gonna cost $250-$300 and run a Linux OS that’s designed for TV’s. According to interviews, the system is a jumble of retro nostalgia machine and medium-power home console that third party developers can release games on theoretically.

The new box will have an AMD custom processor with Radeon graphics. It will run the Linux operating system, with a user interface it’s customizing for TVs. Mac said that the machine will run PC games, but it will also be capable of doing streaming, running apps, browsing the web, and playing music. As far as games go, the machine will run the kind of games that a mid-range PC can do today, but it won’t run Triple-A games that require high-end PC performance.

Eurogamer speculates that it could be a SteamOS device that takes another swipe at bringing PC gaming to the living room. Rather than marketing it as a Steam Machine, they’ll use their big old catalog of Atari games to sweeten the deal and allow the Steam library to be a secondary feature. If this is the case, it’s rather interesting proposition. What kind of controller will it use? How will the online components work exactly? Will the platform’s features evolve and grow? Not much has been said, but considering that it’s relying on an IndieGoGo campaign to get off the ground the prospect is not looking bright for a major competitor.

Nevertheless, if it manages to launch successfully it will become the only console to accompany the Nintendo Switch in the current generation of consoles. Too bad about the name.


Cities: Skylines useful as real city planner?

Like most people I’ve lost interest in keeping up with TED talks long ago, but when I checked back to see what was on the menu I noticed this talk by Ms. Korppoo about the prospect of using the video game Cities: Skylines as a method for figuring out how to expand or develop real life cities. Her accent is not easy to understand, but there are some intriguing facts brought up.

Being quite a fan of the game myself, I can’t help recognize that there’s a depth to the game’s design that really educates players about what happens when you change the flow of a city. Creating walkable paths, adding or reducing intersections, and the problem of creating sprawling districts instead of discrete neighborhoods is all touched on.


Hey everybody, get your faces scanned!

Update: Here’s a new report that Google’s “smart” speaker system was covertly listening to users at home. Isn’t that shocking and unexpected!?

Google’s ominous Nest offshoot wants to offer you a doorbell system that captures, scans, and analyses the faces of people who approach your front door. The camera would use your home Wi-Fi to stream a live video feed to your smartphone, allowing you to see who’s waiting outside or notify you if somebody’s lurking without ringing the Nest device’s doorbell. Theoretically, this is a major security device that could allow you to catch bad guys and recognize friends, although it’s pretty obvious that bad guys could wear masks, burkas, scarves, or just sunglasses and a hand over their mouths to avoid being recorded properly. They could also just spray paint or tape over the device’s lens, nullifying the whole thing. So much for security functions. Other than that, the device lets you send short messages through the device to the folks outside, such as “You can leave that there,” or “We’ll be right there”. Oh, and although you can tag people and have the device recognize recurring characters, it supposedly doesn’t transmit the scanned data to any database. Just trust Google and forget all about hackers and data breaches.

Speaking of horrible ideas, the upcoming iPhone X is going to combine the biometric harvesting capabilities of Microsoft Kinect into your next smartphone, giving the NSA a recognizable 3D scan of your face and eyes with the added bonus of letting you skip the one-second hassle of manually unlocking your phone. Wow! Remember when the FBI insisted on having a universal back door into all iPhones to “stop terrorists”? Now you can pay for the privilege of giving them that information yourself. Will you be added to a secret list on and spied on for potentially being a terrorist? There’s only one way to find out! And that’s not even mentioning the less corrupt and more pathetic functionality of monitoring your facial expressions constantly to sell data to ad companies and software developers. That’s what the Kinect was supposed to do, remember?

If hackers can take over your butt plug, they can hack anything.

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