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2024-02-22 19:47:11| Engadget

Framework is all about modular, upgradable laptops and now the company is offering people a more-cost effective entry point. It has dropped the price of its B-stock Factory Seconds systems (which are built with excess parts and new components). As such, it's now offering a Framework Laptop 13 barebones configuration for under $500 for the very first time. The 13-inch machine comes with an 11th-gen Intel Core i7 processor with Iris Xe graphics. So the CPU should be sufficient for most basic tasks and some moderate gaming. Here's the catch: Frameworks' barebones laptops don't include RAM, storage, Wi-Fi connectivity, power adaptor or even an operating system. Tinkerers (i.e. folks who likely would be most interested in playing around with a Framework system) are likely to have some spare parts kicking around anyway. You can buy whatever other components you might need from the Framework Marketplace. To that end, Framework says it's selling refurbished DDR4 memory at half the price of new. One other thing worth noting is that Framework's B-stock systems have an original display with "slight cosmetic issues." The company notes that these can range from things like fine lines that can be seen from a certain angle or a lack of backlight uniformity that may be seen on a white screen. A-stock systems have a matte display, but they're a little more expensive. Factory Seconds laptops are available in the US, Canada and Australia for the time being.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/frameworks-new-sub-500-modular-laptop-has-no-ram-storage-or-os-184711789.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-02-22 19:31:26| Engadget

The little console that could, Playdate, is getting a developers showcase on February 28 at 12PM ET. Manufacturer Panic promises a 14-minute presentation chock full of new games that may or may not make use of the consoles weird little crank. We only know one game thatll be featured at the event, but its a doozy. Lucas Pope, the creator behind Papers, Please and Return of the Obra Dinn, has been busy prepping a Playdate title called Mars After Midnight. Well likely get a new trailer for the game, which was first revealed back in 2021. Panic also says the event will include a release update on the title. So, the long wait is nearly over. Mars After Midnight has been called a spiritual sequel to Papers, Please, though one set on an alien world and not in a fictional cold-war era country. You play as a door guard of an alien colony tasked with letting people in. That certainly sounds a whole lot like Papers, Please to me. As you can see, the graphics look absolutely gorgeous and the game certainly makes use of that crank. Panic hasnt teased any other games that will take center stage during the showcase, so its anyones guess. This is a quirky console that practically requires unique gameplay elements, so we could be in for some nifty surprises. The company has said the event will not feature any updates on hardware, for those looking for a Playdate 2. To that end, the console is nearly two years old but only recently became readily available for purchase. Before last week, customers would have to wait months upon ordering the console before shipment. Now, youll get one within two to three days. For the uninitiated, Panic has whipped up a really distinctive and magical portable gaming console. The bright yellow Playdate boasts a traditional D-pad, two buttons and, most importantly, a crank-based control mechanism. The console costs $200 and each purchase gets you 24 free games, with two unlocking each week for 12 weeks. This is the first developers showcase for Playdate since November of last year.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/theres-a-playdate-games-showcase-on-february-28-183125090.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-02-22 18:00:14| Engadget

Google has added an experimental generative AI feature to its browser with the launch of Chrome M122. The new AI tool is called "Help me write," because it can literally help you write more descriptive sentences or even full paragraphs from a short prompt. Google says the tool uses its Gemini models to understand the context of the web page you're on so that it could generate appropriate suggestions. If you're on a review page, for instance, it can give you a suggestion that reads like a review instead of a sales copy. Google In one of Google's examples, the tool was able to spit out a decent description of what the person was selling with a prompt that simply read: "moving to a smaller place selling air fryer for 50 bucks." The tool suggested a full paragraph that was able to better communicate the user's message. "I'm moving to a smaller place and won't have room for my air fryer. It's in good condition and works great. I'm selling it for $50. Please contact me if you're interested," the suggestion read.  In another example, the user asked the tool to write them a request to return a defective bike helmet and to communicate that the product developed a crack, which isn't mentioned in the product warranty. As you can see in Google's examples, you can change the length and tone of the suggestion if the first thing the writing aid comes up with isn't good enough to serve your needs. Once you're done, you can click the Replace button to switch your prompt with the suggested writeup. Google To activate the experimental tool, you have to go into Settings in Chrome's three-dot drop-down menu. There, you can find the Experimental AI page where you can activate "Help me write." To use the feature, just highlight the text you want to rewrite and then right-click on it to summon the "Help me write" box. Take note that it's only available for Chrome browsers on Macs and Windows PCs in the US at the moment. It can also only understand prompts and write suggestions in the English language.  Google first announced the arrival of the writing tool back in January, when it revealed that it was going to start integrating AI features into its Chrome browser. In addition to "Help me write," Google said that it's also giving the browser an AI-powered tab organizer and the ability the generate customized themes. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/chromes-latest-experimental-ai-feature-can-help-you-write-170014645.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-02-22 17:53:35| Engadget

It's been a big few months for fighting games between the likes of Mortal Kombat 1, Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8 all popping up. There's another would-be major player sitting in the wings though, as Riot is preparing to enter the fray. The publisher has provided an update on Project L, the long-awaited League of Legends spin-off it announced in 2019. The fighting game now has an official name: 2XKO. Let's be honest, that's a real stinker of a name, It's isn't exactly going to roll off the tongue. Some of those commenting on a YouTube video in which Riot made the announcement suggested that "Double KO" would have been better. It's hard to disagree. The name stems from the format of 2XKO. It's a 2 vs. 2 tag-based fighting game, borrowing an idea popularized by the Marvel vs. Capcom series. You can play solo or, in a nice touch, recruit a friend as your tag partner and battle another duo. Riot also says 2XKO will have streamlined controls and mechanics to help players jump in, but notes that there will be a "high level of depth and mastery." In the gameplay teaser, 2XKO looks pretty solid. It appears to have Riot's trademark level of polish with smooth animations and distinct, eye-catching looks for each of the LoL characters. It's just a pity about that name. Riot plans to release 2XKO on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S in 2025. As with its other tentpole titles, 2XKO will be a free-to-play game. The publisher will set up demos at fighting game events throughout this year, starting at Evo Japan in April. Riot is also hoping to run at-home playtests and you can sign up at the game's website.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/riots-project-l-fighting-game-is-officially-titled-2xko-165335886.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-02-22 17:25:10| Engadget

A widespread AT&T outage has impacted over 70,000 customers as of 8AM ET, according to tracking site Downdetector. Most of these issues were centered in Houston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Atlanta. This impacted cellular service and data connections, with many customers noting that they couldnt even contact 911. Its still unclear as to what caused the service interruption, as its ongoing. AT&T has issued a statement to CNBC, writing that it is working urgently to restore service. The company encourages customers to make use of Wi-Fi calling until the problem is handled. Thousands of Verizon and T-Mobile customers have also reported outages, but both companies said that those impacted had been trying to contact AT&T numbers. The market has declared this a serious problem, as AT&T shares are down nearly three percent since trading opened this morning. Cellular interruptions are a regular part of life, but the fact that many impacted customers cannot contact 911 and other emergency services is particularly worrisome. The San Francisco Fire Department has urged city residents to try calling 911 from a landline or to get ahold of a friend or family member who has signed up for a different carrier. We are aware of an issue impacting AT&T wireless customers from making and receiving any phone calls (including to 911). We are actively engaged and monitoring this.The San Francisco 911 center is still operational.If you are an AT&T customer and cannot get through to 911, pic.twitter.com/TUIEBkqmkI SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) February 22, 2024 Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens noted that the city employees could make and receive 911 calls, but that many AT&T customers could not. Dickens has suggested that city residents contact AT&T for service inquiries, and not Atlantas emergency services system. The Massachusetts State Police echoed this sentiment, noting that customers had been flooding its 911 center with inquiries about cellular service. Please do not do this, the law enforcement agency wrote on X. This is an ongoing issue and well update this story when the service is restored or when AT&T issues an update on the cause.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/us-cellphone-outage-hits-thousands-of-att-users-nationwide-162000029.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-02-22 17:09:14| Engadget

8Bitdo makes some of the best third-party game controllers around, and one of them is now on sale for close to a record low price. The Ultimate C controller has dropped from $30 to $25.49 today only as it's an Amazon lightning deal. Its only a few cents more than the lowest price weve seen for the peripheral to date. The Ultimate C is compatible with a wide range of devices and platforms, including Windows PC, Steam Deck, Android and Raspberry Pi. It's a cheaper version of some of 8BitDo's other peripherals.  It doesn't rely on Bluetooth or a 2.5GHz connection. Instead, the Ultimate C connects to your gaming system via a 2.4GHz USB dongle. 8BitDo was also able to reduce costs by opting for a charging cable instead of a dock and removing the profile toggle seen in pricier models. There's no support for 8BitDo's Ultimate customization software either, but the firmware is upgradable. The tradeoffs may just be worthwhile for an inexpensive gamepad from a well-known peripheral maker. The controller will run for up to 25 hours on a single charge, according to 8Bitdo, and there's support for asymmetrical rumble when playing games on Windows (where you can plug-and-play via a wired connection as well). The field green and lilac purple colorways are quite fetching too. Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-8bitdo-ultimate-c-controller-is-on-sale-for-25-today-only-160914390.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-02-22 17:00:17| Engadget

Arturia just announced the KeyLab Essential 88 mk3, a larger sibling to the previously-released Essential 49 and 61 MIDI keyboards. As the name implies, this is a full-size 88-key controller that allows you to play the entire note range of a piano at the same time. Theres no need for changing octaves here. Just like the other entries in the KeyLab Essential line, the 88 mk3 is intended to be a budget-friendly alternative to the flagship KeyLab controllers. The build is solid, with semi-weighted keys, though slightly less premium than the standard KeyLab 88. Theres also a reduced number of hands-on controls when compared to the flagship, though theres still plenty to tinker around with. To that point, the KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 includes the same screen as the smaller keyboards, for navigating presets. There are also nine knobs and nine faders for controlling parameters across Arturias line of softsynths. Additionally, you get built-in control scripts that work with a number of popular DAWs, like Ableton Live. This allows you to do things like mix tracks using the built-in faders or stop and start recordings from the controller itself.  There's also a contextual button below the screen that offers even more control over your plugins and virtual instruments. You may notice theres only eight drum pads, but the KeyLab Essential line lets you switch to a second bank for the full 16. The keyboard features a hold function, new scale and chord modes and an arpeggiator. Finally, this keyboard comes with plenty of software to get started with. The included bundle features Native Instruments iconic The Gentleman piano, the UVI Model D recreation, a two-month subscription to Loopcloud and a subscription to the Melodics tutoring software. Like always, you also get Ableton Live Lite and Arturias Analog Lab V. We dont know how much this will cost yet, but we reached out to Arturia for pricing information. As a comparison, the 61-key KeyLab Essential mk3 costs $249 and the 49-key version comes out to $199. Also, last generation's KeyLab Essential 88 costs $379, so expect it to fall somewhere in that range. The KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 will be available in both black and white. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/arturia-adds-an-88-key-option-to-its-keylab-essential-mk3-line-of-midi-controllers-160017251.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-02-22 16:06:32| Engadget

Sony is looking to make its latest PlayStation virtual reality headset more useful by allowing folks to run PC games on it. The company said that it's "currently testing the ability for PS VR2 players to access additional games on PC to offer even more game variety in addition to the PS VR2 titles available through PS5." Sony hopes to roll out PC support for PS VR2 later this year and said to stay tuned for more updates. Official PC support is something many enthusiasts have been hoping for, since the PS VR2 is, for the most part, a great virtual reality headset. Modders have been working on ways to make the device work with the likes of SteamVR, but official support will make things much easier.  Despite Sony announcing PC support plans in a blog post detailing some of the titles that are on the way to PS VR2 on PS5, it's hard to argue that the headset has an especially strong library of games as things stand. Sony itself has only released three VR experiences for the platform since it debuted a year ago. In fact, the company has not announced any future first-party games for PS VR2. The lack of backward compatibility with PS VR titles limits the current headset's library too.  Some notable developers also have cold feet about making PS VR2 versions of their projects. The eponymous studio behind popular VR social space Rec Room says porting the game to PS VR2 would be too expensive. So, enabling folks to more easily use PS VR2 for virtual reality experiences on PC is a smart idea. They'll be able to tap into a wider selection of games, including big hitters like Half Life: Alyx, on a headset that has excellent dual OLED displays. That could help Sony shift more PS VR2 units. It also gives Sony more of a reason to release Horizon: Call of the Mountain on PC so that the entire Horizon series is available on that platform. Meanwhile, if Sony enables virtual desktop support, there's the possibility that PS VR2 users will be able to access Xbox Cloud Gaming through a web browser. Wouldn't that be something?This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sony-is-working-on-official-pc-support-for-the-ps-vr2-150632224.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-02-22 16:00:27| Engadget

Maybe youve seen the ads on social media: Crush depression with Animal Crossing; Meet with a therapist while playing Stardew Valley. Advertisements for Hero Journey Clubs gamer-focused mental health support groups have flooded the internet in recent months, drawing a mix of skepticism and enthusiastic intrigue from those who have been targeted by them. Struggling with loneliness? Come join us, the ads beckon. For some people who already turn to video games as an antidote to the difficulties of everyday life, Hero Journey Clubs promises of community and a safe space to do inner work really hit home. But while Hero Journey Club may be a lot like therapy, the service it provides is not therapy, technically. Its not licensed healthcare, a point that anyone who signs up is told from the outset and must consent to before proceeding. The Journey Guides, however as the session leaders are called are qualified mental health professionals. To be hired, one must have at least a masters degree from an accredited graduate program in clinical psychology, mental health counseling, marriage/family therapy or licensed social work, says CEO and Hero Journey Club co-founder Brian Chhor. They must be either licensed or in the license-eligible phase of obtaining their credentials. And, of course, they should be passionate about gaming. Hero Journey Club, which launched in 2022, offers support for people dealing with loneliness, depression, anxiety, addiction and other issues. Journey Guides do not dispense diagnoses or treatment, but lead group discussions under the framework of some of the most common psychotherapy approaches. That includes acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A subscription costs $30 per week, which gives participants (Journeyers) access to weekly sessions held over Discord voice chats, each lasting about 80 minutes. New users are matched with a group of up to five people based on information they provide during the onboarding process, but Journeyers identities are kept completely anonymous beyond their Discord handles and the names theyve chosen to have others call them by. Each group has its own private server, where users can stream gameplay. Hero Journey Club The gaming element is meant to serve as both a means to help people relate to one another and to give them something to do with their hands, Chhor told Engadget. Some groups play cozycore games like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing: New Horizons, while others may play Valheim, Red Dead Redemption 2 or something else. The game doesnt have to be multiplayer; in some groups, everyone might be playing different games. Journey Guides sometimes plan in-game activities for their groups to work on like decorating a space in Animal Crossing based on ones inner-child or just let everyone play their own way. Chhor, who started working with digital health startups after studying regenerative medicine and biodesign at Stanford University, told Engadget the mission behind Hero Journey Club is one he has a personal connection to. He grew up in a family that often used video games as a way to cope through stress and to escape, and gaming over Discord is how they came together during the pandemic to support a cousin who was struggling with loneliness and suicidal ideation but didnt have immediate access to therapy. Mental illness, Ive seen, primarily impacts people who are the most vulnerable in our society, Chhor told Engadget. That got him thinking about creating a community-first model, one that can take therapy out of the clinic, and into the spaces where people already spend time and feel connected. The cost of one-on-one therapy can be a huge barrier for those seeking help, on average falling somewhere between $100-200 per session in the US without insurance, which many therapists do not accept. For people who dont live in a major city, the availability of practitioners can be extremely limited, while therapists in dense metropolitan areas are overloaded with bookings amid soaring demand for mental health services. And people of color, LGBTQIA+ people and others from marginalized communities remain underserved, often facing biases and discrimination that lead to inadequate care or prevent them from getting any care at all. Even group therapy in its more traditional forms, while significantly more affordable at an estimated one-third to one-half the price of individualized treatment, can seem daunting for people with social anxiety. Hero Journey Club aims not only to foster a sense of belonging through community, Chhor said, but also, using evidence-based techniques, to help people get the tools they need. For one, the sessions give Journeyers a place to work on interpersonal skills and, ideally, learn how to structure healthy relationships and set boundaries that serve their needs, HJCs Chief Clinical Officer Derrick Hull told Engadget. Hull holds a PhD in clinical psychology from Columbia University and has been in the psych tech space for over a decade, most recently working for Talkspace and, previously, Noom. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Hero Journey Club (@herojourney_club) Journeyers also work toward greater psychological flexibility, or a persons ability to adapt and cope with stressors like negative or disturbing feelings, instead of being consumed by them, Hull said. A lot of people are afraid to feel their feelings, he said. They don't know what to do with their feelings, especially in a social setting where the stakes are a little bit higher: What if I overreact, what if I fall apart? Journeyers can develop that emotional regulation while being part of a community where everybody feels seen and supported. Research in recent years has added support to the idea that gaming especially with others can have positive therapeutic effects. A 2021 systematic review of more than two dozen studies concluded that playing commercial video games can in some cases help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. The potential benefits arent tied to one genre or format alone, either; the different studies observed improvements in players of casual puzzle games, AR games, action-adventure and survival horror titles, among others. And unlike games that are created specifically for therapy settings, commercial games are widely known and readily available. Writing for The Conversation earlier this year, Tyler Prochnow, an Assistant Professor of Health Behavior at Texas A&M University, noted that young men in particular are less likely to seek out mental health support due to social stigmas, and cooperative gaming in that case can be a critical intervention. Video games can help them find empathy and build crucial social connections, he wrote, adding that the social features of online games may literally provide young men a lifeline when they have nowhere else to turn. As skeptics on social media have frequently pointed out in response to the Hero Journey Club ads, anyone can create a Discord server to bring fans of a particular game together for free. Plenty such gathering places already exist. But that argument neglects to account for the people who struggle to make friends on their own. And, online spaces made up of large groups of strangers have a tendency to breed toxic behavior. Hero Journey Club strives to offer a gaming community where toxicity is absent. You have to be able to create that kind of safety in order for a community to actually solve the loneliness problem, Hull said. Both Chhor and Hull say Journey Guides are thoroughly vetted in a multi-stage interview process, not just to ensure their on-paper qualifications are up to snuff but also to be certain theyre adequately able to address the needs of a diverse userbase. Most Journeyers are between ages 18 and 45, with the bulk of them in their late 20s and early 30s. Many are neurodivergent, queer and/or people of color. According to Chhor, 70 percent come from marginalized communities. Hero Journey Club In its infancy, though, Hero Journey Club still has some of its own issues to sort out. The company is working to tighten up its admittedly broad privacy policy to assuage any concerns about how Journeyers personal information might be used. Other high-profile telecounseling platforms before it havent set the best example; last year the FTC came after BetterHelp for allegedly sharing customers data including health information with Facebook, Snapchat and other third parties for targeted advertising without explicit user consent. Hero Journey Club does not share users information or personal stories for advertising purposes unless theyve signed a waiver giving the company permission to do so, a spokesperson told Engadget. Any data used for other reasons, like research, is anonymized. Additionally, some people who tried out the service have said it all felt a bit disorganized, that the reality didnt didnt quite line up with the expectations they had based on how its marketed. John, a 37-year-old lifelong gamer and new father, told Engadget he signed up for Hero Journey Club a few months ago while dealing with loneliness after moving with his family from Oklahoma to Seattle. I thought, maybe this is a nice place where Ill be able to find people to be friends with, he said. Im an older person, so its harder for me to go out and meet people. But he says the first session left a bad taste in his mouth, so he didnt go back. It felt like the Journey Guide was being kind of irreverent, he said, and when he chimed into the group discussions he said he was shut down by the guide, who said he was giving unsolicited advice. It left him feeling concerned that the social interactions are going to be moderated too much to allow for any real connections to be made. And, We didn't talk about video games, he said. Nobody was streaming their video games. Nothing. It feels like an unfinished product, he told Engadget. It feels like they're trying to do something but they're inexperienced with it. Amanda McGuire who says she applied to work as a Journey Guide while in school for her masters told Engadget that the way its advertised felt a little misleading after she had the opportunity for a closer look, both in terms of the mental health services and the actual involvement of gaming. As part of the interview process, McGuire had to lead a Hero Journey Club session. She ultimately was not offered the position but has since gon on to work for Therapists of Color New England as a clinical therapist. Interactive therapy, McGuire said, can be a great thing, and shes worked with children and teenagers using approaches like VR. Sometimes, we'll play Minecraft and talk, and I think it can be a great tool. But Im not sure if it works the way they have everything structured with Hero Journey Club. Hero Journey Club The anonymous Discord setup was disorienting, with no video to put a face to who may be talking at a given moment, and the fact that it doesnt offer participants true clinical care didnt sit right with her. I'm concerned that people will try to replace actual therapy with Hero Journey Club, she said. Guides can help Journeyers connect with licensed healthcare professionals outside of Hero Journey Club so they can receive diagnoses and individualized treatments, both Chhor and Hull said. Theyre encouraged to take such steps, and Journey Guides are equipped to provide Journeyers with crisis resources if needed. Of the people who have found community in Hero Journey Club, some say its been invaluable a place where they can come out of their shell and finally feel heard. The Journey Guides are really good at what they do, an anonymous Journeyer who deals with agoraphobia, social anxiety and other issues told the Daily Dot last year. The HJC community, they said, has genuinely helped [them] quite a lot. Others have been quick to come to the services defense against the naysayers online, many saying theyve found it to be a safe and welcoming space where they can work through difficult issues. They're doing good work, though it's also clear that they're still learning, one person commented in response to a Reddit post last January that questioned Hero Journey Clubs authenticity. In the time since, Hero Journey Club has grown sixteenfold, according to Chhor. The retention rate is high, he said, and people stay with it for about seven months on average. Our first three groups are still with us today, Chhor said. This month marks two years, and they're still with us.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/hero-journey-club-wants-to-meet-gamers-mental-health-needs-just-dont-call-it-therapy-150027098.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-02-22 16:00:00| Marketing Profs - Concepts, Strategies, Articles and Commentaries

This infographic looks at steps businesses should take--such as creating a workflow where a human reviews every piece of AI-generated content--as well as things to avoid, such as putting sensitive information into AI tools. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

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