First Warhammer: Vermintide 2 DLC, Shadows over Bogenhafen, launches this month

Why it matters: For lovers of all things Warhammer, Vermintide 2 has been one of the best PC games of the year. But five months after its launch, many players are likely getting tired of replaying the same levels at increasingly higher difficulties. Thankfully, the first DLC is arriving this month.

Vermintide developer Fatshark has announced that the Shadows over Bogenhafen DLC will arrive for the PC and Xbox One on August 28. An announcement teaser trailer has been released, though all it shows is the market town enveloped in fog as fireworks are set off in the background.

We do know that the main bad guy in the Bogenhafen DLC will be Grandfather Nurgle, who’s also known as Plague Lord Nurgle, Plague God, the Lord of Decay, or just Nurgle to his friends.

“We are kicking off the fall with more content to Vermintide 2”, said Martin Wahlund, Fatshark’s CEO. “[In the] last week of August, the players will be invited to Bogenhafen, a city where the Heroes will be tested like never before by Grandfather Nurgle’s unpleasant attentions”

No word yet on a price, but we’re likely to find out more at Gamescom.

Long-time fans of Warhammer might recognize the Shadows over Bogenhafen name from The Enemy Within series of FRPG books published in the late 80s.

Vermintide and its sequel, for those who don’t know, are Left 4 Dead-style co-op titles that let you join up with three friends or bots and fight your way through hoards of enemies. The second game improves on the original in every way and is one of our Best PC Games (you should be playing) picks.

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San Francisco judge orders bail payment in Bitcoin

A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered a cyber-criminal to pay their bail charges in Bitcoin, inadvertently stimulating cryptocurrency mainstream adoption.

The Daily Post – a local Palo Alto newspaper – reports Martin Marisch has been charged with hacking the well-known video games company Electronic Arts, responsible for popular titles like FIFA, The Sims, and Battlefield.

Marisch, the Daily Post reports, managed to gain access to EA’s central computer systems, and obtain 25,000 customer records. Had the attack not been caught, Marisch could’ve used this information for substantial financial gain.

Federal Judge Jacqueline Corley ordered the defendant to pay the equivalent of $750,000 in Bitcoin BTC or other cryptocurrencies, to be released on bail. Given the volatility of cryptocurrency, the amount required to pay this sum will be changing on a daily basis.

While some enthusiasts have celebrated the Bitcoin bail order as another case of cryptocurrency mass adoption, there is a much more rational legal explanation for why cryptocurrencies can be accepted as bail payment.

US assistant district attorney, Abraham Simmons, said that judges are afforded a broad spectrum of discretion when it comes to enforcing bail payments. They can in many ways be tailored to the assets that the defendant has access to, such things as real estate or cars could also be enforced as collateral against bail payments.

With that in mind then, it would appear that Marisch does indeed have access to quite the sum of cryptocurrency.

Simmons also stated that he doesn’t believe it is the first time a judge may have ordered cryptocurrency as bail payment.

Cyber-criminals should take note, just because you have your wealth stored in cryptocurrency, away from the direct prying eyes of banks, governments and the taxmen – it doesn’t mean it is safe.

Published August 17, 2018 — 12:20 UTC

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Clash Royale’s new pro league could make it the first big mobile e-sport

The world of competitive gaming is one that’s constantly changing, but over the years there’s been one truth: the most popular e-sports are PC and console games. But Supercell, the Finnish studio behind the blockbuster mobile strategy game Clash Royale, is looking to change that. August 20th will see the debut of the professional Clash Royale League in North America , and the developer says that fans can expect something very different compared to existing e-sports like Overwatch or Dota 2.

“We’re still trying to figure out what e-sports looks like on mobile, and I don’t think the right approach would be to just copy what works on the bigger screen,” says Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen.

The competition actually consists of five leagues that span North America, Europe, mainland China, Latin America, and Asia; at the end of the season, the best teams from each will compete in a world championship. Supercell has partnered with 44 different e-sports organizations to represent players, and that includes some big names that will be familiar to competitive gaming fans, like Team Liquid, Cloud9, 100 Thieves, and Team Solomid.

Competition for player spots kicked off earlier this year with the launch of the Clash Royale League Challenge, an amateur competition which aimed to find the game’s best talent, who could then be signed to a team. According to Supercell, 25 million people participated over just six days, hoping to get a spot; each of the pro teams has a roster of four players, and will be providing both salaries and housing during the season. (Supercell declined to offer specifics for the league’s minimum salary requirements.)

As e-sports continues to grow and become more professional, multiple attempts have been made to bring mobile titles into the fold. Games like Tencent’s Arena of Valor have seen some success in Asia, but there has yet to be a mobile e-sport that has broken out globally. Paananen believes that Clash Royale could be that game — and it’s something he’s been thinking about since before it even launched back in 2016. When Supercell was still developing the game, he says, staff would form competitive tournaments, and those who weren’t playing would sit around and watch. “It was so much fun of course to participate, but more importantly it was fun to watch other people play,” Paananen says.

That continued after the game came out and players started forming tournaments on their own. Supercell has dabbled in hosting its own competitions before, including the Crown Championship World Finals last year in London, but a fully professional league represents a more concerted effort to make Clash Royale into a viable e-sport. The game has millions of existing players (though Supercell hasn’t revealed specific numbers), and they’re already primed for watching. The Clash Royale app has a built-in feature called “TV royale,” where players can watch recent matches. High-level battles regularly have 20,000 or more virtual spectators.

Clash Royale League matches won’t be featured in the app — at least not right now — but will instead be broadcast on platforms like Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube. For the North American circuit, teams will compete at a studio in Los Angeles. (You can see an artist’s rendition of the studio below.) That’s all pretty common for e-sports competitions like the Overwatch League or the League of Legends Championship Series. But Supercell says that the viewing experience for Clash Royale will be different, because it’s going to be tailored for your phone.


“One of the things we’ve learned over the last few years is that most of our audience is watching on mobile devices,” says Tim Ebner, Supercell’s head of e-sports. We won’t know exactly what that will look like until the league’s first season kicks off next week, but Supercell says that the presentation — including things like camera angles and on-screen graphics — will be optimized for smaller displays. Most notably, games will be broadcast in portrait mode, so they feel native to the platform.

This combination of factors, including the large existing audience and the untapped potential of mobile, is what sold so many teams on joining the fledgling league, despite the still-unproven nature of mobile e-sports. Patrick “Chief Pat” Carney, who founded the mobile-focused e-sports team Tribe Gaming which is part of the North American league, says that he’s “extremely optimistic” about the potential for the Clash Royale League to be a breakout hit, particularly for Western audiences. “The recipe is in place,” he explains. “The game is phenomenal and born to be an e-sports title; the player base is massive; the developers, teams, and players are fully committed; and the storylines and narratives are epic.”

For Supercell, the league is just one part of an ambitious plan. CEO Paananen says that he wants the studio to create experiences that last for many years — and he believes e-sports are an integral component to that longevity. “We want to create games that people play for decades, and games that will be remembered forever,” he says. “And for a competitive game like Clash Royale, it feels obvious that e-sports must play a role in that.”

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Today's a Great Day to Finally Buy a Foam Mattress

Best Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.   

If you’re really serious about improving your nighttime routine, you can buy an entire foam mattress today for $259-$462 (queens cost $315) in Amazon’s Gold Box. These 4+ star-rated mattresses are constructed of 9.5 inches of high density base foam topped with a 2.5 inch layer of memory foam, and arrive at your door vacuum sealed in a surprisingly small box.

The catch is that this mattress doesn’t include a Casper-style 100 night trial period. That said, the prices are significantly lower than most foam mattress start-ups’, and even if you don’t want to take the risk for your own bed, it could be a great buy for a guest room or kid’s room.

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Like all Gold Box deals, these prices are only available today, or until sold out, so don’t sleep on it.


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President Trump Talked to Veterans About Apocalypse Now and It Was Super Awkward

Photo: Getty

Donald Trump only understands the world through the lens of popular culture. And a new story from The Daily Beast illustrates that perfectly.

President Trump was reportedly talking with some veterans organizations back in March of 2017 when the subject of Agent Orange came up. Trump asked if Agent Orange was “that stuff from the movie,” and after a while it became clear that Trump was talking about the 1979 fictionalized representation of the Vietnam War, Apocalypse Now. But that movie depicted the use of napalm, not the spraying of Agent Orange, an herbicide that has been linked to cancer in Vietnam veterans.

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From The Daily Beast:

Trump refused to accept that he was mistaken and proceeded to say things like, “no, I think it’s that stuff from that movie.”

One clue belying the president’s insistence is that the famous Robert Duvall line from the scene in Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” is not “I love the smell of Agent Orange in the morning.”

He then went around the room polling attendees about if it was, in fact, napalm or Agent Orange in the famous scene from “that movie,” as the gathering—organized to focus on important, sometimes life-or-death issues for veterans—descended into a pointless debate over Apocalypse Now that the president simply would not concede, despite all the available evidence.

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After one of the veterans told Trump that he was not only wrong but that the movie didn’t advocate for veterans in a particularly great way, the president reportedly said, “Well, I think you just didn’t like the movie.”

President Trump isn’t the first American president to let pop culture slip into the real world. There are countless examples of presidents using movies and TV to their advantage, most famously the first actor-president, Ronald Reagan. But this is perhaps the first example of a president getting a movie so spectacularly wrong and doubling down on his assessment of that movie to insult veterans. To top it all off, Trump seems to think Apocalypse Now was a documentary.

Our president is an idiot.

[The Daily Beast]

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This Ugly-Ass Gaming Laptop Has Exactly Three Great Things Going for It

Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

The MSI PS42’s look is so bad, it might derail you. This laptop looks like it was made five years ago and probably by Acer or Toshiba. When I pulled it out of the box, I immediately made quite a few unpleasant noises about its appearance. Then I used it for a week, and while I still find the MSI PS42 to be one of the ugliest laptops produced in a while, I can’t deny the charm of its performance or price.

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MSI isn’t known for budget-friendly devices, and it isn’t known for especially portable devices. MSI is known for making really fast gaming laptops with great keyboards and nice displays.

The MSI PS42… sort of has those things. It starts at $900 and can go up to $1,300 depending on how you configure it, so it’s decidedly cheaper than MSI’s offerings. Which means a corner or two had to be cut.

In the case of the MSI PS42, the display can be a little dim, maxing out at just 303 nits. It’s still a very pretty 14-inch 1080p display, with rich colors and a neat tool that lets you change color settings on the fly. That means brighter and richer colors when you’re out in the sun or playing a video game, and softer more accurate colors when you’re watching a movie or doing some design work that requires accuracy.

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The keyboard is also a mixed bag. It’s backlit and lovely to type on, but the layout, which includes a group of additional buttons on the right-hand side, has led to a few miss-types. Also, MSI has elected to put common secondary functions for keys, like adjusting volume and screen or key brightness, on these extra keys and the arrow keys instead of on the function key row. Combined with the fact that MSI included just one function (FN) key to interact with these secondary functions and you’re stuck with a learning curve if you’re coming from a brand like Apple or Lenovo.

To be fair, that’s a minor complaint. Some people might even be okay with the ugly finish dogging the PS42. As with other MSI laptops, it’s a thumbprint-hungry brushed aluminum finish, but this time in a bright silver instead of a moody black.

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It’s the exact same kind of finish I associate with cheap Acer and Toshiba laptops from four or five years ago. It’s a finish that screams budget in all the wrong ways. The clashing black plastic bezel around the display just adds to that feeling that you’re looking at a (relatively!) cheap laptop.

Then I stopped to remember that MSI is smaller than other laptop makers in the sub-$1,000 market. A company like Lenovo can make a stunning laptop for $900 because it’s really big and producing a lot of different laptops. It can make deals with suppliers and manufacturers that MSI, being much smaller, simply cannot.

The black bezel clashes with the silver. Also, it was terrible when Dell put the webcam near the hinge and it’s still terrible now.
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

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But because MSI started as a gaming laptop maker—not a business laptop maker—it also seems to have some expertise its competitors lack. It knows discrete graphics. Which means the PS42 is the rare super light laptop with a discrete GPU. Currently, that’s the Nvidia MX150, but a 1050 model will be available by the end of September, according to MSI.

Generally, a laptop with discrete graphics that weighs under 2.9 pounds is going to be expensive. This is MSI’s lightest laptop ever, just 2.62 pounds. Lenovo’s Yoga 720, another budget ultraportable laptop, weighs 2.9 pounds. It’s also a 13-inch laptop while the MSI PS42 is a 14-inch. The better comparison might be the 13.9-inch Huawei Matebook Pro X, which also has a discrete graphics card. Until the PS42, the $1,500, 2.9-pound Matebook Pro X was the cheapest and lightest laptop you could find with discrete graphics. It’s also got a much nicer finish and a much bigger display than the PS42.

This finish is NOT cute.
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

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The Matebook Pro X even has better performance on a lot of day-to-day tasks. While both machines use a Nvidia MX150, with an Intel i7-8550U, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, the Matebook Pro X creamed the MSI PS42 on a number of benchmarks. In Geekbench 4, a benchmark designed to approximate performance through a series of synthetic tests, the Matebook Pro X had an excellent multicore score of 14,430 while the MSI PS42 had a score of 11,073. And in WebPRXT 2015, a browser-based benchmark that tests how well a computer performs tasks like resizing images and working in spreadsheets, the Matebook Pro X had a score of 630. The PS42 managed a very middling 451.

The worst was Photoshop, though. MSI will hopefully reconsider its storage choice because, in our Photoshop test where we resize and convert a series of RAW images to JPEG, the Matebook Pro X accomplished the task in 45.83 seconds while it took the PS42 16 seconds longer (61.89 seconds). It’s rare for a laptop to take longer than a minute to accomplish the task, and when it does take longer, it’s almost always because of the storage the company elected to use.

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Despite these disappointments, the MSI PS42 actually does some tasks really well. At 11 hours and 10 minutes in our battery test, it actually lasted 3 minutes longer than the Matebook Pro X’s already impressive 11 hours and 7 minutes. It also did much, much better than the Huawei laptop in our game benchmarks. In Civilizations VI, it had an average frame time of 43.75 millisecond. At 79.7ms, the Matebook Pro X had nearly double that frame time. Same with Overwatch, where the Matebook Pro X’s average frames per second was 21, while the PS42 managed 49fps.

That’s still not on par with an Nvidia 1050, but that kind of GPU performance is significantly better than what Intel’s integrated graphics provide, and it’s better than what the competition is doing with the same GPU.

When you couple that excellent battery life and GPU performance with a price tag of $900 to $1,300 (as tested), you’re looking at one of the best bargains in laptops right now. It lacks the luxury and some of the speed of the $1,500 Huawei Matebook Pro, and it’s not as nice looking as the slower Lenovo Yoga 700 series, but that’s okay. Life is about compromises, and the compromises of the MSI PS42 aren’t that bad. Sure it could be prettier, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find another laptop this affordable or fast at this price.

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Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

README

  • It’s super fast in games, only moderately fast in day-to-day tasks.
  • The storage could be much faster.
  • Battery life is exceptional.
  • It’s very light.
  • It starts at just $900!
  • But boy is it ugly.

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Google Goggles is officially dead


Google

Google signed Goggles’ death warrant the moment it launched Lens, and now it looks like the tech giant is ready to bid farewell to its old image recognition app. As Android Police has noticed, the only thing you’ll see when you fire up the Goggles app is a note that says it’s going away. If you have a phone that’s compatible with the standalone Google Lens app, the note will come with a button that leads straight to Lens’ download page. But if your phone isn’t, then the memo mentions that Lens’ features are available in Google Photos, and the download button is replaced with one that opens the Photos application.

[Image credit: Mariella Moon (left) / Android Police (right)]

Like Google Lens, Goggles allowed you to look up real-world objects on the internet using the phone’s camera. You can think of it as an early iteration of Lens, which is much smarter, better at recognizing objects and has more features. If you still have the old Goggles app, go ahead and launch it for the last time before deleting it from your device.

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Comment: Latest rumor could give Apple a fantastic (and sensible) MacBook line-up

The rumor mill notched up a surprise today. We’ve long been hearing reports of Apple working on an entry-level 13-inch MacBook, and there has been speculation of a price in the $899 to $999 range.

That all seemed to make perfect sense. The existing MacBook Air is positively ancient by the standards of the rest of the MacBook line-up, so a new machine to replace this seemed an obvious fit.

But a new report today suggested that the new machine could have a price tag of $1200 – and that paints a different picture entirely …

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Best Buy 2-day Anniversary Sale: up to $750 off MacBooks, Apple Watch, TVs, much more

Best Buy has launched its 2-day Anniversary Sale this morning, discounting MacBooks, Apple Watch, TVs, smart home accessories and much more. You can find all of the deals on this landing page, or hit the jump for more details and our top picks. A new twist in today’s sale is that My Best Buy members receive free shipping on all orders (sign-up here at no cost). Otherwise, the usual $35 minimum remains.

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For Tesla, 'going dark' might not be as easy as just turning off the lights

Elon Musk still hasn’t made a formal proposal to take Tesla private, an idea he floated last week in a series of tweets he has since attempted to clarify.

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Many questions remain about his plan, chief among them how he would pull off a take-private of a $60 billion publicly traded company.

Lawyers and advisors tell CNBC it’s not going to be as simple as “going dark,” as smaller companies have done in a big wave in the decade since the financial crisis. In order to pull that off, a company has to have fewer than 300 shareholders (or 500 in some cases). The process involves filing a few forms with the Securities and Exchange Commission and removing the shares from the exchange where they were listed.

It has been an escape for hundreds of companies over the last decade that found themselves crippled by the pressures of having to meet rigorous public financial disclosure requirements. But Tesla is a big company, and removing itself from the public market is a lot more complicated, securities lawyers and advisors said.

“No one has done it on this large a scale,” said Peter Bible, the chief risk officer of EisnerAmper and a former chief accounting officer of General Motors.

Usually, the investing public waits impatiently for the next hot initial public offering, but Silicon Valley’s tech elite has been disappointing those expectations lately. Many are content to stay private. CB Insights counts 260 $1-billion-plus “unicorns” with a combined private valuation of $840 billion. Last year there were 160 IPOs compared to 486 in 1999 at the height of the dot-com frenzy, according to Statista.

Constant pressure from shareholders and analysts about near-term performance was enough to drive companies like Dell and Tibco to move in the opposite direction and go private, but through the traditional buyout route where shareholders are cashed out.

Tibco, a business intelligence software maker, delisted from Nasdaq in 2014 and went private through a $4.3 billion deal with Vista Equity Partners. “Private provides you with the leeway you do’t have in a public setting,” its chief technology officer told Britain’s CIO magazine at the time.

Tesla debuted on the Nasdaq in 2010, raising $226 million as its shares jumped 41 percent on their first day of trading, and it has returned to the market several times since then issuing more shares. Musk’s personal stake in the company has risen in value from $512 million at the time of the IPO to $12.8 billion.

But the electric car company’s founder and CEO has complained that being publicly traded invites distracting focus on short-term financial goals and makes Tesla the target of traders who attack the company in order to profit from a decline in its shares.

Simply going dark is a multi-step process. The exchanges need several days notice of the plan, and the public has to be informed at the same time. Then forms are filed with the SEC, one to notify it of the delisting and another to deregister the shares if the company has 300 or fewer shareholders. But if the shareholders aren’t bought out with cash, the shares continue to trade, moving over to the more thinly traded over-the-counter market.

Going private requires cash to buy out the minority shareholders, usually through a merger, tender offer or reverse stock split.

But Musk’s proposal adds a complicating factor.

He has said he wants to preserve a broad ownership of Tesla as a private company. That might be impossible for the mom and pop investors in the stock now who don’t qualify to invest in private companies as accredited investors. If they want to keep their ownership, it might have to be through a special purpose fund, something Musk has mentioned.

And that special purpose fund might have to be publicly traded, Morningstar’s David Whiston said.

“Issues around regulatory approval come to mind because it is unclear how Tesla will allow retail investors who are not accredited investors to own stakes in a private Tesla,” he wrote in a note this week. “That issue is why we think the special-purpose vehicle Musk pointed to in the Aug. 7 email may have to be publicly traded.”

Tesla said Tuesday its board has set up a special committee to examine Musk’s idea. Lawyers for the committee and the company have been hired, and Musk has tweeted that he has his own set of advisors, including the private equity firm Silver Lake, which is said to be interested in a possible investment.

The special board committee, including directors Brad Buss, Robyn Denholm and Linda Johnson Rice, hadn’t reached any conclusions about “the advisability or feasibility” of a transaction and that it could consider alternatives, Tesla said on Tuesday. Shareholders would also have to vote on a transaction, lawyers and advisors said.

That’s another complicating factor, lawyers said. There’s no guarantee that enough shareholders will agree or that enough will want to sell their shares at Musk’s suggested $420 price to get Tesla’s shareholder count low enough to deregister the shares. Whiston estimates about 40 percent of the shareholders might take the money, and that would cost about $28.7 billion.

Depending on state law, he’d have to get a super majority of shareholders (in Delaware, it’s 90 percent) to be able to squeeze out any hold-outs, lawyers said. But Musk has said there will be no forced sales.

Its biggest investors, aside from Musk himself, are mutual funds and money managers in addition to China’s Tencent and Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund. Collectively this group holds about 66 percent of the shares. About 17 percent are owned by investors who are too small (either in the amount of Tesla they own or the size of their portfolios) to have to report their stakes. Musk has said he believes two-thirds of Tesla’s shareholders will stick with it as a private company.

The deal could turn out to be as unique as the collection of space transportation, electric automobile, high-speed transportation and solar power generation projects Musk has cobbled together in his business empire.

“There is a recipe for going private, but like everything else, Elon Musk does it his own way,” said Barry Genkin, a partner at law firm Blank Rome. “He hasn’t put any meat on the bones and everyone is scratching their heads about what he means.”

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