Our Final Fantasy 7 oral history book is out now

Late last year, Polygon teamed up with publisher Read-Only Memory to launch a Kickstarter campaign. We’d gotten a number of requests to turn our Final Fantasy 7 oral history feature into a book, and we thought it seemed like a fun experiment. So we gave it a shot. And thanks to 1,871 backers, the idea became a book.

Since then, we’ve been churning through the details, putting together what we’re calling 500 Years Later: An Oral History of Final Fantasy VII. And as of today, we’re happy to announce that the book is done, starting to arrive into backers’ hands and available for purchase.

If you’re counting, that makes it nine months since the Kickstarter campaign closed, 20 months since the original article ran on this site, almost four years since I started thinking of this story, and about 21 years since Final Fantasy 7 went on sale in the first place. These things take time.

When I started working on this story, people still cared about Flappy Bird. Square Enix hadn’t even announced its Final Fantasy 7 remake. And now, through some combination of laziness, perfectionism and whatever else, I’ve had a hand in this story for about three times as long as the development team spent making the game itself.

In that time, we’ve put together essentially a director’s cut of the story that originally ran online, with a foreword from series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, new interview material, outtakes that didn’t fit in the original story, art from illustrator sparrows, design from Rachel Dalton and production from Darren Wall. It even comes with three bookmarks, one of which unlocks a particularly elaborate Easter egg.

All of which is to say, check out the book at Read-Only Memory’s site. Buy a copy if you like. Or just read the online version of the story again. Chances are you’ll have plenty of time before Square Enix’s remake hits.

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Best Buy is offering Apple’s $99 iPhone XS leather folio for $49.99

Best Buy if offering Apple’s official leather folio for the iPhone XS at $49.99 — half the cost you’d find it for at an Apple Store. Either a pricing mistake or just a well-hidden goodie, 9To5Toys sniffed out this deal that you should hop on sooner than later.

In case you were more interested in the other color options, this deal only appears to cover the black model. And if you purchased the iPhone XS Max, well, Best Buy isn’t currently offering prices that are any lower than Apple’s own. You’ll have to fork over $129.99 to cover your large iPhone in leather instead of $99.99.

Of course, you’ll find no shortage of far cheaper alternatives on Amazon and around the net. But if you’re someone who prefers first-party accessories, Best Buy’s deal shouldn’t be slept on.

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iPhone XS Max first impressions: It's big, but not too big

Apple’s iPhone XS and XS Max have arrived. Customers have lined up across the world in anticipation of the launch day Apple Store experience, all the while delivery trucks with countless identical boxes are delivering new phones globally.

Also: Want a new iPhone or Android smartphone? Here’s how to sell or trade

My FedEx box arrived about an hour ago. Inside was a review sample of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. I plan on more thoroughly testing both devices in the coming days and weeks, but until then, I thought I’d offer some of my first impressions of the iPhone XS Max — the biggest iPhone Apple has ever made.

It’s not that big

iphone-xs-max.jpg

(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

Apple iPhone XS event

Skimming through my Twitter timeline after the iPhone XS review embargo lifted earlier this week (I refuse to read reviews of a product until after I’ve reviewed it), I got the impression that the iPhone XS Max was too big for most reviewers.

And while, yes, it’s a big phone, it’s not earth-shattering big. It’s marginally smaller than the Samsung Note 9, despite having an ever-so-slightly larger display. If the iPhone XS Max is too big, then the Note 9 is also too big, and by extension, the iPhone 8 Plus is too (it’s taller and wider than the XS Max, but barely).

Also: Apple tries to wipe AirPower from the history books

I actually feel as if the iPhone XS Max is more comfortable to hold than the Note 9. There’s something about the way the two curved edges meet on each side of the Note 9 that, by itself isn’t noticeable, but when holding the iPhone XS Max at the same time, just feels weird.

I don’t have big hands and have resisted the trend of bigger phones as much as I possibly could over the past few years. The Note 9 was the first overly big phone I felt comfortable using, and I hope after some more time with the iPhone XS Max, I feel the same way.

Reachability makes a comeback

One of the complaints I saw this week was that reaching for the notification shade when using the XS Max with one hand was difficult and uncomfortable. I agree.

Also: Best smartphones for 2018 CNET

For me, it’s just not possible to reach the top of the phone and swipe down to reveal notifications or Control Center with one hand. As frustrating as that is, iOS does offer a workaround. It’s called Reachability.

reachabilityoniphonexsmax.jpgreachabilityoniphonexsmax.jpg

(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

Reachability lowers the top-half of the display, putting it within reach. The feature has been around since the iPhone 6, when Apple increased the size of its devices and screens. Users activated the feature with a double-tap on the home button. But with the iPhone X, and now the iPhone XS and iPhone XR ditching the home button, there’s also a new method to access the feature.

Also: Best smartphones of 2018 for tech experts TechRepublic

To use Reachability on modern iPhones, you need to place a finger at the bottom of the display and quickly swipe down. When done right, the screen will move down, putting whatever is at the top of the screen within thumb’s reach.

In my brief time with the iPhone XS Max this morning, it’s clear to me I once again need to get used to triggering Reachability and start using it more often.

More to come

Outside of the phone simply being bigger, it’s the same ol’ iPhone X form factor and design I’ve used for the past 11 months. The buttons, cameras, ports, and finish are all the same.

I haven’t had time to get a good feel for battery life or the camera, but I will say that the adjustable Portrait Mode photos is seamless to use, and I can’t wait to test it outside of my office, where it’s possible to take more than a couple photos of a HomePod or my dog.

Also: iPhone XS and XS Max reveals some battery surprises

I will have a full review of the iPhone XS Max in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. Much more to come.

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Researcher Discloses New Zero-Day Affecting All Versions of Windows

windows zero day vulnerability

A security researcher has publicly disclosed an unpatched zero-day vulnerability in all supported versions of Microsoft Windows operating system (including server editions) after the company failed to patch a responsibly disclosed bug within the 120-days deadline.

Discovered by Lucas Leong of the Trend Micro Security Research team, the zero-day vulnerability resides in Microsoft Jet Database Engine that could allow an attacker to remotely execute malicious code on any vulnerable Windows computer.

The Microsoft JET Database Engine, or simply JET (Joint Engine Technology), is a database engine integrated within several Microsoft products, including Microsoft Access and Visual Basic.

According to the an advisory released by Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), the vulnerability is due to a problem with the management of indexes in the Jet database engine that, if exploited successfully, can cause an out-out-bounds memory write, leading to remote code execution.

An attacker must convince a targeted user into opening a specially crafted JET database file in order to exploit this vulnerability and remotely execute malicious code on a targeted vulnerable Windows computer.

“Crafted data in a database file can trigger a write past the end of an allocated buffer. An attacker can leverage this vulnerability to execute code under the context of the current process,” Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative wrote in its blog post.

“Various applications use this database format. An attacker using this would be able to execute code at the level of the current process.”

According to the ZDI researchers, the vulnerability exists in all supported Windows versions, including Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows Server Edition 2008 to 2016.

ZDI reported the vulnerability to Microsoft on May 8, and the tech giant confirmed the bug on 14 May, but failed to patch the vulnerability and release an update within a 120-day (4 months) deadline, making ZDI go public with the vulnerability details.

Proof-of-concept exploit code for the vulnerability has also been published by the Trend Micro its GitHub page.

Microsoft is working on a patch for the vulnerability, and since it was not included in September Patch Tuesday, you can expect the fix in Microsoft’s October patch release.

Trend Micro recommends all affected users to “restrict interaction with the application to trusted files,” as a mitigation until Microsoft comes up with a patch.

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The Science Behind 'The Meg'

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