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  1. You don't even need 280 characters to deliver this momentous news: Elon Musk just bought Twitter. The Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder has been circling the po[CENSORED]r social media platform for weeks, using Twitter itself as a medium to announce both his intentions and ongoing frustrations with the platform in its current form. Now, after lining up the funds (his own and hefty support from Morgan Stanley) Musk will pay $43.4 billion -- roughly $54.20 per share -- in a tender offer that gives him control of the company. The deal now faces regulatory approval. With Twitter's earnings report just days away, it's likely the new owner will show up during the company's Q1 earnings call - at least just to say "hi," and demurely refuses to answer most analysts' questions directly. In a release on the acquisition, Musk said, "Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. "I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it." See more Bret Taylor, Twitter's Independent Board Chair noted in the release that "The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders." Parag Agrawal, Twitter's CEO and the person who may end up working most closely with Musk said in the release, "Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important." He notably did not reference Musk directly. Musk's triumph comes after a circuitous path to ownership: First he bought almost 10% of Twitter shares, giving him a seat at the table and inviting him to the board. Musk accepted and then just as quickly backed out. But he wasn't finished. Soon, he was offering $43 billion for the company, which prompted Twitter's board to adopt a poison-pill plan that would have sold cheaper shares to shareholders had Musk sought to purchase more than 15% of the company's shares. Soon after, Musk, who has been on the platform since 2009, returned to a tender offer, which meant he'd need to pull together all the money to buy the company. As of last week, Musk secured the funds, and over the weekend, Musk and Twitter's executive team met in person to hammer out the details. A bumpy road Not everyone is thrilled at the prospect of a Musk-owned Twitter. In the run-up to the announcement, #RIPTwitter was trending on the platform. As for what comes next, Musk has made clear his intentions to ensure that Twitter supports free speech from all sides (the implication being that it currently does not, though there is no empirical evidence to support this). He may revisit some user bans, including that of former President Trump. He'll likely open-source Twitter's code. A fan of blockchain and NFTs, Musk might push the platform more aggressively into the crypto space. But investors and backers will be most interested in Musk's growth plan. Twitter has done a decent job of generating more revenue from existing users, but its growth has in recent years been relatively slow and flat. It's not clear that Twitter could ever have the broad-based, global appeal of, say Facebook (which has its own growth struggles) or TikTok. It's unclear what Musk can do to reenergize some of Twitter's biggest celebrity accounts. Musk will probably fast-track the already-under-development Tweet Edits feature, since he made it clear during the acquisition effort that he's a fan. What will Elon do? What happens next depends on Elon Musk, or rather the Elon Musk who shows up to run Twitter. Will it be the brilliant, sure hand that, through SpaceX, regularly ferries astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station? The man who basically created the EV market with Tesla? Maybe. It might also be the man who impulsively tweets his inner ID and EGO. Who jokes that "The next Twitter board meet's gonna be lit," with a picture of him smoking a joint on Joe Rogan's podcast. There sometimes seems to be little middle ground for Musk, who is both extremely successful and rich and extremely impulsive and emotional. The fear that Musk will let the worst element back on Twitter -- Nazis, trolls, anti-vaxxers, Donald Trump, and so on -- is real. A free-speech absolutist might demand ALL voices be heard, even the dangerous ones. Still, Musk doesn't truly know the inner workings of Twitter's extensive (and still flawed) content moderation system. He soon will. That may inspire some different and more rational thinking about how to excite and energize Twitter for the future while protecting the most vulnerable who still use it every day.
  2. Nvidia DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) is a rendering technology that uses AI-assisted upscaling techniques to boost fps with minimal impact to visual quality. It works by rendering frames at a lower resolution which reduces the stress placed on your GPU, before reconstructing the final image to your chosen output resolution. You’ll need one of best graphics cards from the GeForce RTX lineup in order to use Nvidia DLSS, as it requires team green’s Tensor Cores in order to for it to work. This is one of the key differences between DLSS and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) and other methods of hardware-agnostic anti-aliasing. While Nvidia DLSS was originally created to make ray tracing more accessible by reducing the performance hit that comes with it, the technology has since taken on a more encompassing identity. It can help transform lower-spec gaming PCs into deceptively powerful machines, allowing you to more easily enjoy the best PC games at high refresh rates. As of March 25 2022, the latest version of Nvidia DLSS is 2.4.0. WHAT IS THE BEST DLSS MODE? Currently, there are four DLSS modes to choose from: Quality, Balanced, Performance, and Ultra Performance. These mostly do what they say on the tin, either prioritising detail or putting greater emphasis on the frame rate. Looking at them from a technical standpoint, they refer to the relationship between the rendered image and the upscaled version: NVIDIA DLSS QUALITY MODE Provides a small fps boost and has the least impact on image quality. With the render resolution of this preset being closer to the native resolution than other DLSS modes, it’s the most demanding of the bunch and offers the smallest performance improvement, but has the least impact on the overall quality. This is recommended if you’re running the best gaming PC but want to squeeze more frames without sacrificing your game’s detail, particularly if you’re using the best gaming monitor with a 4K resolution. This is also a good mode to try if other presets noticeably blur your game, as it’s sharper than the rest. NVIDIA DLSS BALANCED MODE Has a respectable fps boost with a slight impact on quality. You can think of Balanced as the average or ‘normal’ setting that acts as the middle-ground. It’s not quite as demanding as Quality, but it also doesn’t make the same visual sacrifices as Performance. By its very nature, Balanced suits almost everyone, sticking as close to your chosen frame rate as possible. 4K users will benefit the most, though, as DLSS generally works better with more pixels involved. NVIDIA DLSS PERFORMANCE MODE Offers the biggest fps boost, but carries more chance of blurring. Nvidia often uses its Performance setting when showcasing just how many frames a DLSS-enabled game can push. It has a wider super sampling range to cover than Balanced or Quality, which offers a higher frame rate but sometimes comes with a hit to its visuals, including a loss in fidelity. Performance mode is best for 1440p gamers, but it also comes in handy if you’re using a slower, aging system and want to get the most out of it. NVIDIA DLSS ULTRA PERFORMANCE MODE Gives the biggest frame rate jump, if you don’t mind blurry visuals. Joining the roster a little later than the other options, this mode offers the lowest resolution rendering image compared to the chosen native resolution. As a result, you get the biggest leap in frame rate but this often comes with a noticeable hit to the visual quality. This setting is geared more towards 8K users – not that many configurations can push such a high pixel count – but it also suits those wanting more frames at 4K by rendering at 720p instead of 1080p. HOW GOOD IS DLSS PERFORMANCE? DLSS performance varies depending on hardware configurations, the game you’re playing, and whether or not you’re running ray tracing, making it difficult to put a number on exactly what you can expect. It’s also something that will get better over time through machine learning as the neural network improves, meaning we’ll likely see these margins increase. Let’s take a look at some of Nvidia’s internal numbers to get an idea of what to expect (take these with a pinch of salt): DOOM DLSS makes ray tracing significantly more accessible, even when playing Doom Eternal at 4K resolution using max settings. Nvidia says DLSS accelerates frame rate by up to 60%, with nearly all RTX graphics cards reaching above 60fps. RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 Open world games are often a little more demanding than others, but Nvidia says any RTX graphics card can run Red Dead Redemption 2 at Full HD, above 60fps, on max settings with DLSS. It even lowers the barrier to entry at 4K resolution, boosting performance by up to 45%. Better yet, this extends to Red Dead Online, too. RAINBOW SIX SIEGE DLSS is particularly handy in competitive shooters, where each and every frame can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Quality mode is probably better if you’re running Rainbow Six Siege at 1080p or 1440p, but DLSS Performance mode lets you run 4K resolution without lowering your frame rate. You’ll see up to a 50% fps boost when running the game in UHD at max settings, and it even pushes the RTX 2060 into triple digits. LEGO BUILDER’S JOURNEY Some would consider Lego Builder’s Journey nearly unplayable at 4K resolution using max settings, as even the best graphics cards fail to achieve more than 20fps – unless you use DLSS. 60fps is still unachievable with these settings, but a potential 163% increase in frame rate gets close enough on the RTX 3080 Ti, while other GPUs firmly sit above 30fps. Those of you that prioritise frame rate will want to crank things down to 1080p with DLSS Quality on instead. CALL OF DUTY: WARZONE Frames matter in a game like Call of Duty: Warzone, and certainly delivers a performance hike. If you’re not willing to settle for 1080p, the green team’s AI tech can provide an FPS boost of up to 60%. Of course, if you’re playing with competitive settings, you could squeeze even more out of your gaming PC. That said, many gamers are still rocking older graphics cards thanks to shortages, which means DLSS could help your rig keep up while it waits for an RTX 3000 series upgrade. Remember, these are Nvidia’s internal figures and you should take them with a pinch of salt. It goes to show how DLSS can also compensate for questionable optimisation, however, as well as facilitate a smoother experience on polished games. HOW DOES DLSS WORK? You may have heard the term ‘upscaling’ before, which goes some way towards visualising DLSS’s magic in action, but it’s a tad more complicated. It all starts with the NGX supercomputer, where Nvidia trains its AI using machine learning. It feeds the neural network thousands of images, allowing the AI to compare ultra high-resolution stills, which are presumably 64x super sampling anti-aliased versions, with lower resolution source images that haven’t been tampered with. This allows it to reference the quality of the source image and chart a path to rebuild it into the larger version using inference. DLSS will vary from game to game – and even GPU to GPU – but Nvidia claims it “avoids the issues associated with TAA, such as screen-wide blurring, motion-based blur, ghosting and artefacts on transparencies.” This is partly thanks to its own temporal feedback techniques, which use motion vectors to calculate the movement of on-screen objects in advance, keeping DLSS one step ahead. The first generation of DLSS required the AI to train for each and every game. DLSS 2.3, however, uses a general approach that allows the feature to learn over and apply AI enhancements automatically to all compatible games through Game Ready drivers. From there, RTX graphics cards use their Tensor Cores to push the improvements in real-time. WHAT GRAPHICS CARDS SUPPORT DLSS? Nvidia’s RTX 2000 and 3000 series of graphics cards are kitted out with Tensor Cores that enable DLSS, so it’s as easy as looking for the ‘RTX’ prefix to know whether your GPU will work with the feature. Unfortunately, DLSS isn’t available on AMD graphics cards because of this hardware requirement, but don’t despair if you’re rocking a Radeon GPU, as AMD’s FSR seems like a great open-source alternative. GeForce RTX 2060 GeForce RTX 2060 Super GeForce RTX 2060 12GB GeForce RTX 2070 GeForce RTX 2070 Super GeForce RTX 2080 GeForce RTX 2080 Super GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Nvidia Titan RTX GeForce RTX 3060 GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GeForce RTX 3070 GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GeForce RTX 3080 GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GeForce RTX 3090 Not all of Nvidia’s graphics cards provide the same performance increases, however, with the RTX 3000 series often outperforming RTX 2000 designated GPUs. This is because the newer graphics cards house second-generation Tensor Cores, offering greater per-core performance. WHAT GAMES SUPPORT DLSS? It’s up to developers to implement DLSS, meaning not all games support it, but Nvidia has made a concerted effort to make the process as straightforward as possible. Currently, there are three ways for developers to introduce DLSS into their games, including natively from within Unity, downloading the Unreal Engine plugin, or grabbing the newly available SDK. Support for DLSS is growing all the time, with new games getting the feature every month – a number we expect to grow exponentially with how accessible it now is. With 28 indie games joining the fray in September, 2021, Nvidia DLSS now appears in over 100 games. Here’s a breakdown of the biggest ones you can upscale: Alan Wake Remastered AMID EVIL Anatomy Of Fear Anthem Apocalypse: 2.0 Edition Aron’s Adventure Assetto Corsa Competizione AWAY: The Survival Series Back 4 Blood Baldur’s Gate 3 Battlefield 2042 Battlefield V Beyond Enemy Lines 2 BIOHAZARD VILLAGE Z Version Bodies of Water VR (Beta) Bright Memory Bright Memory: Infinite Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Call of Duty: Vanguard Call of Duty: Warzone Chernobylite Chivalry 2 Chorus ChronoTecture: The Eprologue Cions of Vega Control CRSED F.O.A.D Crysis Remastered Crysis 2 Remastered Crysis 3 Remastered Cyberpunk 2077 Deathloop Death Realm Death Stranding DeepStates (VR) Deliver Us The Moon Diablo II: Resurrected DiRT 5 DOOM Eternal Edge of Eternity Enlisted Escape From Naraka Everspace 2 Exit From F1 2020 F1 2021 F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch Fall Balance Ball Far Cry 6 Faraday Protocol Farming Simulator 22 Final Fantasy XV Fortnite Forza Horizon 5 Frozenheim Ghostrunner Godfall Grand Theft Auto III – The Definitive Edition Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – The Definitive Edition Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – The Definitive Edition Gu Jian Qi Tan Online Helios Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice Höll Space 5D6 Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition Hot Wheels Unleashed ICARUS INDUSTRIA Into the Radius VR Iron Conflict Jurassic World Evolution 2 Justice JX3 Online RTX version Last Hope on Earth LEGO Builder’s Journey Life Is Strange: True Colors Loverowind Marvel’s Avengers Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition Minecraft with RTX Monster Hunter World Moonlight Blade Mortal Online 2 Mortal Shell Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Myst Myth of Empires NARAKA: BLADEPOINT Necromunda: Hired Gun Nine To Five Nioh 2 The Complete Edition No Man’s Sky Observer: System Redux Outriders Poker Club Powerslide Legends Pumpkin Jack Qu Gian Qi Tan Online Quake II RTX RAZE 2070 Ready or Not Recall Red Dead Redemption 2 Redout: Space Assault REFICUL 666 Resident Evil Village Ring of Elysium Rise of the Tomb Raider Rune II Rust Scavengers Severed Steel Shadow of the Tomb Raider Soul Dossier Stay in the Light Supraland Swords of Legends Online Sword and Fairy 7 System Shock Demo The Ascent The Elder Scrolls Online The Fabled Woods The Medium The Orville Interactive Fan Experience The Persistence The Riftbreaker The Riftbreaker: Prologue To Hell With It Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege Twin Stones: The Journey of Bukka Uncrashed : FPV Drone Simulator Unknown Woods Wakamarina Valley, New Zealand War Thunder Watch Dogs: Legion Wolfenstein: Youngblood World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Wrench Xuan-Yuan Sword VII Yag With Nvidia’s investment into ARM and rumours swirling about the Nintendo Switch Pro featuring a new SoC, we might eventually see DLSS appear outside of gaming PCs. For now, though, Nintendo is sticking with the current Tegra in the Switch OLED, meaning it’s only accessible on PCs rocking an RTX graphics card. NVIDIA DLSS VS AMD FSR: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? While Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD FSR help strike a balance between performance and resolution, both tools are fundamentally different from each other. The green team’s GPU tech relies on a neural network, supercomputer processing, and artificial intelligence, while FidelityFX uses algorithms to achieve similar results. DLSS also needs RTX GPUs with Tensor cores to work, while AMD’s FSR is compatible with a variety of graphics options. While this also limits DLSS compatibility to a specific list of games, Nvidia has a six-tap spatial upscaling alternative to FSR that’s works with any game, and it can be enabled within GeForce Experience.
  3. A new Apex Legends cinematic gives us a pretty good look at those Newcastle abilities, but if you’ve been paying attention to recent leaks, then… Well, please act surprised, at least. The trailer for the new season, Saviors, also immediately puts to rest a point of lore speculation: Newcastle is, indeed, Bangalore’s brother Jackson. Newcastle’s abilities leaked in a video posted to Reddit a month ago. His tactical has him toss out a movable drone that holds an energy shield. His passive allows him to downed teammates away while protecting them with a personal shield. His ultimate has him leap into the air and slam into a targeted spot on the ground, creating a large piece of cover at the landing point. If you had any doubt whether that leak was accurate, Newcastle uses all of those abilities in the new cinematic trailer. The trailer also features the crew taking down a giant crustacean that looks a whole lot like Godzilla foe Ebirah – the official site notes that a ‘downed beast’ will soon appear on Storm Point. You can also expect a reworked ranked system as part of the new season. Check out the new trailer below. Expect a larger reveal for Newcastle and Saviors on April 28. The Apex Legends Season 13 release date is likely to land on May 10.
  4. ANew York judge on Monday held former US president Donald Trump in contempt of court for not producing documents subpoenaed in the state attorney general's civil probe of his business practices, and ordered him to be fined $10,000 per day until he complies. Mr Trump lost a bid to quash a subpoena from State Attorney General Letitia James, then failed to produce all the documents by a court-ordered March 3 deadline, later extended to March 31 at his lawyers' request. Justice Arthur Engoron ruled that a contempt finding was appropriate because of what the judge called “repeated failures” to hand over materials and that it was not clear Mr Trump had conducted a complete search for responsive documents. “Mr Trump … I know you take your business seriously and I take mine seriously. I hereby hold you in civil contempt,” the judge said, speaking to Mr Trump although he was not in the courtroom. Should Mr Trump fail to pay the fine, he could be jailed under a New York state provision allowing judges to imprison people who do not comply with contempt orders, said Sarah Krissoff, a partner at law firm Day Pitney. She said, however, that such a scenario was unlikely and the judge could opt for other remedies. Ms James is investigating whether the Trump Organisation, the former president's New York City-based family company, misstated the values of its real estate properties to obtain favourable loans and tax deductions. She has said her investigation had found “significant evidence” suggesting that for more than a decade, the company's financial statements “relied on misleading asset valuations and other misrepresentations to secure economic benefits". The attorney general has questioned how the Trump Organisation valued the company's brand as well as properties including golf clubs in New York and Scotland and Mr Trump's own penthouse apartment in Midtown Manhattan's Trump Tower. Alina Habba, a lawyer for Mr Trump and the company, said at the hearing that Ms James's investigation was a “fishing expedition” and that the Trump Organisation was “right on schedule” with its production of documents. “This is a political crusade,” Ms Habba said. “The attorney general's investigation has seemingly become aimless.” In arguing for the $10,000 daily fine during the hearing, Andrew Amer, special litigation counsel with the attorney general's office, said the fine was meant to coerce Mr Trump into complying with the documents, not to punish him. Mr Trump, a Republican, denies wrongdoing and has said the investigation is politically motivated. Ms James is a Democrat.
  5. Spotify is expanding its Video Podcast feature to all creators across the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In recent years, Spotify has been experimenting and expanding its video support. The first iterations came out in 2020, around the time the company signed an exclusivity deal with The Joe Rogan Experience. Since then, the feature has been rolled out to podcasts like The WAN Show and Tap In w/ Harry Jowsey. With this rollout, creators will be able to upload to Spotify’s Anchor web platform and are given access to a collection of podcast-specific new features. Suite of features In total, there are six new features that creators can use to expand the reach of their show. Users will be able to subscribe to their favorite video podcasts thanks to the aptly named Spotify Podcast Subscriptions. That way, you can directly support creators, and in return, get access to exclusive content. There’s also a new partnership with Riverside.FM, an online recording studio for podcasts. It’s meant to make remote recording sessions easy to do, and best of all, it’s free for creators to record and publish video podcasts on Spotify. Going down the list, there’s a new embedded video player to make sharing content easier, analytics so creators know how well their show is doing, and new interactive features like Polls and Q&A sessions. That way, listeners can directly interact with the podcast hosts. And finally, there’s Bulk-replace on Anchor; a migration tool allowing creators to easily replace their audio-only episodes with the video version. Future releases Spotify did say they plan to launch Video Podcasts to other markets sometime in the future but didn’t say when or where. It also teased new monetization features coming to Anchor; new ways for creators to make money off their podcasts, but was also vague on the details. But it did mention one method. Spotify is adding automated commercials to its Ads by Anchor service, giving third-party brands access to a podcast’s audience. And as a final gift, Anchor posted a tutorial on how to make a video podcast.
  6. Learning how to manage cables within your gaming PC is more important than you’d think. While building your own gaming PC has never been easier, even the best graphics card and RGB clad case can’t always save you from Reddit ridicule, especially if your rig’s innards resemble some sort of spaghetti monster Taking time to manage cables inside your gaming PC may feel like a chore, but it could help your rig flourish. For starters, cleaning up your cables could prevent tasks like upgrading to the best gaming CPU from feeling like an action movie bomb disposal scene. Better still, if you want to boost fps in your favourite games, freeing up case space can help keep things cool when overclocking your CPU and GPU. Of course, you could just cheat by packing everything behind the best gaming motherboard and jamming the side panel back on, but there are far more elegant solutions out there. Follow these six steps of cable management and your setup could look like it’s been done by a professional in no time. If you’re just getting to grips with how to build a gaming PC, then you’re in the ideal position to think about managing cables. After all, it’s always easier to start from scratch than it is to perform the delicate operation of untangling a bird’s nest of wires that are already sitting in your system. That’s not to say pre-built systems are beyond saving, but they’re a little more work given we’d always recommend stripping it down first. 1. MODULAR AND SEMI-MODULAR POWER SUPPLIES With a little elbow grease, almost any PC can scrub up to look good, but if you want something to help you manage cables, then a modular power supply comes in rather handy. Instead of letting cables that you’re never going to use spew all over your case or squish behind your motherboard, a modular power supply does away with these unwanted wires by making them detachable. Choosing what you can plug in streamlines the process of building the best gaming PC, not only making things significantly tidier, but getting rid of the headache that comes with a pile of cables getting in your way as you piece things together.
  7. A Twitch streamer has beaten every Kingdom Hearts boss in the first JRPG game by only using the power of dance – or, more specifically, with a Dance Dance Revolution 2 dance pad controller. That includes all of the toughest ‘super boss’ enemies too, such as the Phantom and Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII. There are many wonderful stories about players using inventive controllers to beat challenging games, such as someone defeating one of Elden Ring’s most intimidating bosses entirely with bananas. Twitch stream MomoPkmn95 was inspired by players beating Dark Souls games with the likes of a Rock Band drum set and, yes, a dance pad to give it a go themselves – in Kingdom Hearts 1. Most of the attempt to beat the first Kingdom Hearts game with a dance mat can be seen on MomoPkmn95’s Twitch channel, otherwise there are highlights on YouTube – including their dance-off with some of the RPG game‘s toughest bosses, which you can see in the video below. “I became curious about using a dance pad as a PS2 controller,” MomoPkmn95 explains. “The idea worked, however, it was very limiting.” After seeing the Dark Souls run-through, they decided to give it another go but had to wait until they had the “right PC setup”. “Now that I have what is needed to do this, I decided to make the dream a reality.” Check it out. This comes hot off the heels of the announcement of Kingdom Hearts IV, with a trailer that seems to hint at a Star Wars world in the highly-anticipated sequel. Given that one of the bosses MomoPkmn95 defeats is basically a Sith Lord, we’re not at all surprised.
  8. French President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen cast their votes today as polls pointed to a win for the incumbent in an election that could dramatically change the futures of France and Europe. Mr Macron, 44, the centrist candidate, cast his vote in the seaside town of Le Touquet after a confident televised debate against rival and vigorous late campaigning appeared to have solidified his lead over his Eurosceptic rival. Ms Le Pen, who toned down her nationalist party’s anti-migrant policies to try to woo undecided voters, told supporters that she was “serene” about the outcome of the run-off after arriving at a polling station in Henin-Beaumont, northern France. "I have confidence in the French,” she said. Opinion polls in recent days gave Mr Macron a solid and slightly increased lead from 6 to 15 percentage points in a straight fight between the pair who headed a first round of voting two weeks ago. Analysts said that the final count would depend on those still weighing up anxiety about the implications of a far-right presidency against anger at Mr Macron's record since his 2017 election. A victory for Ms Le Pen would cause a political upheaval on the scale of Brexit or the US election success of Donald Trump in 2016 ― and would threaten the future of the European Union. In contrast to Ms Le Pen, Mr Macron is one the 27-nation bloc’s biggest champions and has a vision for an ambitious future with a more muscular foreign policy and a common stance on immigration. Mr Macron, who beat Ms Le Pen in the last presidential election five years ago, has warned of "civil war" if his challenger — whose policies include a ban on wearing Muslim headscarves in public — is elected. Ms Le Pen, who has been criticised by Mr Macron for her past admiration of Russian president Vladimir Putin, rejects accusations of racism. She said her plans to give priority to French citizens for social housing and jobs, and scrap a number of welfare benefits for foreigners, would benefit all citizens of whatever religion. She has focused her campaign on the rising cost of living in the world's seventh-largest economy, which many French say has worsened with the surge in global energy prices. She has also zeroed in on Macron's abrasive leadership style, which she says shows an elitist contempt for ordinary people. Even if Mr Macron wins, he faces a difficult second term with protests likely over his plan to continue pro-business reforms, including raising the retirement age from 62 to 65. If she unseats him, Ms Le Pen would seek to make radical changes to France's domestic and international policies. The first immediate challenge after Sunday for the two leaders is parliamentary elections in June to secure a workable majority to fulfil their programmes.
  9. Starting May 11, Google will begin rolling out a policy change to its Play Store that will prevent third-party apps from using the Accessibility API to record calls and some new consumer protections. This is the start of a year-long policy change for the Play Store that will involve changes to real-money games and news apps to better protect people. Despite Google's stated good intentions, people online have already started to take issue with the company's changes. API crackdown The Accessibility API is a set of protocols that developers can integrate into their apps so people with disabilities can use them. Google points out apps like screen readers for people with visual impairments or voice features for “...people with motor impairments” as proper usage. According to Google, some developers have taken advantage of this API to bypass Android privacy controls to allow remote call recording or change a device’s settings without user consent. Alongside the API changes, Google will be adding a Families Ads Program to ensure advertisements on apps are age-appropriate and expanding its Misleading Claims section. These changes were revealed on April 6 and developers have a period of 30 days to implement these changes or have their app removed from the Play Store. Later in the year, there will be a crackdown on gambling apps that offer physical prizes, and the requirement that news apps must provide information on their owner and reveal article sources. Developer critique An app developer on the Android subreddit has a problem with the API change and even claims that it will “ …kill call recording apps once and for all..” The developer of ACR Call Recorder states the change will not be good for the consumer as it will cause people to seek out call-recording services in less reputable places. The developer worries that users will download apps from untrustworthy sources and potentially expose themselves to malware. The developer is also critical of Google’s latest webinar video on the policy change. The video presently reportedly states that third-party phone apps have access to call audio, but the developer states this isn’t true. Only the native phone app on Android phones has access. That said, Android is an open-source OS, and it will probably only be a matter of time until these developers find a workaround for the latest Google policies.
  10. As we all patiently await the arrival of the official Steam Deck dock, it appears that Valve has quietly upgraded its specs ahead of release. While the number of ports on the device hasn’t changed, there are a few key differences that will no doubt please owners of the handheld gaming PC. Prior to the Steam Deck dock revamp, Valve’s official spec sheet listed a single USB 3.1 port and two USB 2.0 ports. Now, when visiting the same page, it appears that it will ship with three USB 3.1 ports instead. Additionally, the formerly non-descript “Ethernet” port is now explicitly described as “Gigabit Ethernet.” These changes to the Steam Deck dock will greatly improve the speed at which you can download and play games via external gaming SSDs, due to the higher specification and rated speeds of both ports. Plus, this should alleviate any worries of the device inhibiting the performance of your gaming keyboard and mouse, as some peripherals demand USB 3.0 ports at minimum. Valve is yet to provide a more specific Steam Deck dock release date past “late Spring 2022”, but for now you can check out our picks for the best Steam Deck dock you can pick up today.
  11. An Elden Ring VR mod is being teased by a modder responsible for similar Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2 VR mods, suggesting a whole new terrifying way to play one of the best RPGs on PC – not to mention the possible Elden Ring first-person mod implications. There are a lot of great VR games on PC already, but other than the likes of Skyrim VR there aren’t too many open-world games accessible to virtual reality fans. Modder Luke Ross has already created mods to make the likes of Red Dead 2, GTA 5, Cyberpunk 2077, and even No-One Lives Forever 2 playable in VR, and their latest video suggests they’ve set their sights on Elden Ring. The unassuming trailer below shows Elden Ring’s memorable opening with the Chapel of Anticipation and Grafted Scion encounter, and it’s all shown in first-person – and clearly looks like it’s VR too, with the way the UI elements move around. Ross calls it a “sneak peek” of what they’re working on, so there’s no telling when the mod will actually be available. Seeing a Grafted Scion drop down in front of me in VR is easily enough to put this in our list of the best VR horror games on PC, which you can check out at that link.
  12. Ukraine will be victorious in its war against Russia very soon, its prime minister said on Friday, after Britain's Boris Johnson said it remained a realistic possibility Russia could still win. "We are absolutely sure that Ukraine will win in this war and victory will be in (a) very short period," Denys Shmyhal told CNN, when asked about Johnson's comment. Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia’s military operation in his country was just the beginning and that Moscow has designs on capturing other countries, after a Russian general said it wants full control over southern Ukraine. “All the nations that, like us, believe in the victory of life over death must fight with us. They must help us, because we are the first in line. And who will come next?” Zelensky said in a video address late on Friday. Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s central military district, was quoted by Russian state news agencies as saying full control over southern Ukraine would give it access to Transnistria, a breakaway Russian-occupied part of Moldova in the west.
  13. Satellite images released Thursday showed what appeared to be mass graves near Mariupol, and local officials accused Russia of burying up to 9,000 Ukrainian civilians there in an effort to conceal the slaughter taking place in the siege of the port city. The images emerged hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the battle for Mariupol, despite the presence of an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters who were still holed up at a giant steel mill. Putin ordered his troops not to storm the stronghold but to seal it off “so that not even a fly comes through.” Satellite image provider Maxar Technologies released the photos, which it said showed more than 200 mass graves in a town where Ukrainian officials say the Russians have been burying Mariupol residents killed in the fighting. The imagery showed long rows of graves stretching away from an existing cemetery in the town of Manhush, outside Mariupol. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko accused the Russians of “hiding their military crimes” by taking the bodies of civilians from the city and burying them in Manhush. The graves could hold as many as 9,000 dead, the Mariupol City Council said Thursday in a post on the Telegram messaging app. Boychenko labeled Russian actions in the city as “the new Babi Yar,” a reference to the site of multiple Nazi massacres in which nearly 34,000 Ukrainian Jews were killed in 1941. “The bodies of the dead were being brought by the truckload and actually simply being dumped in mounds,” an aide to Boychenko, Piotr Andryushchenko, said on Telegram. There was no immediate reaction from the Kremlin. When mass graves and hundreds of dead civilians were discovered in Bucha and other towns around Kyiv after Russian troops retreated, Russian officials denied that their soldiers had killed any civilians there and accused Ukraine of staging the atrocities. In a statement, Maxar said a review of previous images indicates that the graves in Manhush were dug in late March and expanded over the past couple of weeks. After nearly two lethal months of bombardment that largely reduced Mariupol to a smoking ruin, Russian forces appear to control the rest of the strategic southern city, including its vital but now badly damaged port. But a few thousand Ukrainian troops, by Moscow’s estimate, have stubbornly held out for weeks at the steel plant, despite a pummeling from Russian forces and repeated demands for their surrender. About 1,000 civilians were also trapped there, according to Ukrainian officials. Instead of sending troops to finish off the defenders in a potentially bloody frontal assault, Russia apparently intends to maintain the siege and wait for the fighters to surrender when they run out of food or ammunition. Boychenko rejected any notion that Mariupol had fallen into Russian hands. “The city was, is and remains Ukrainian,” he declared. “Today our brave warriors, our heroes, are defending our city.” The capture of Mariupol would represent the Kremlin’s biggest victory yet of the war in Ukraine. It would help Moscow secure more of the coastline, complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014, and free up more forces to join the larger and potentially more consequential battle now underway for Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, the Donbas. Putin expressed concern for the lives of Russian troops in deciding against sending them in to clear out the sprawling Azovstal steel plant, where the die-hard defenders were hiding in a maze of underground passageways. At a joint appearance with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin declared, “The completion of combat work to liberate Mariupol is a success,” and he offered congratulations to Shoigu. Shoigu predicted the steel plant could be taken in three to four days, but Putin said that would be “pointless.” “There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities,” the Russian leader said. “Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly comes through.” The plant covers 11 square kilometres (4 square miles) and is threaded with some 24 kilometres (15 miles) of tunnels and bunkers. “The Russian agenda now is not to capture these really difficult places where the Ukrainians can hold out in the urban centres, but to try and capture territory and also to encircle the Ukrainian forces and declare a huge victory,” retired British Rear Adm. Chris Parry said. Russian officials for weeks have said capturing the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas is the war’s main objective. Moscow’s forces opened the new phase of the fighting this week along a 300-mile (480-kilometre) front from the northeastern city of Kharkiv to the Azov Sea. While Russia continued heavy air and artillery attacks in those areas, it did not appear to gain any significant ground over the past few days, according to military analysts, who said Moscow’s forces were still ramping up the offensive. A senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessment, said the Ukrainians were hindering the Russian effort to push south from Izyum. Rockets struck a neighbourhood of Kharkiv on Thursday, and at least two civilians were burned to death in their car. A school and a residential building were also hit, and firefighters tried to put out a blaze and search for anyone trapped. Elsewhere, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russian troops kidnapped a local official heading up a humanitarian convoy in the southern Kherson region. She said the Russians offered to free him in exchange for Russian prisoners of war, but she characterized that as unacceptable. Vereshchuk also said efforts to establish three humanitarian corridors in the Kherson region failed Thursday because Russian troops did not hold their fire. Western nations, meanwhile, rushed to pour heavy weapons into Ukraine to help it counter the offensive in the east. US President Joe Biden announced an additional $800 million in military assistance, including heavy artillery, 144,000 rounds of ammunition and drones. But he also warned that the $13.6 billion approved last month by Congress for military and humanitarian aid is “almost exhausted” and more will be needed. All told, more than 100,000 people were believed trapped with little or no food, water, heat or medicine in Mariupol, which had a prewar po[CENSORED]tion of about 430,000. Over 20,000 people have been killed in the siege, according to Ukrainian authorities. The city has seized worldwide attention as the scene of some of the worst suffering of the war, including deadly airstrikes on a maternity hospital and a theatre. Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of launching attacks to block civilian evacuations from the city. On Thursday, at least two Russian attacks hit the city of Zaporizhzhia, a way station for people fleeing Mariupol. No one was wounded, the regional governor said. Britain’s Defence Ministry said that Russia probably wants to demonstrate significant successes ahead of Victory Day on May 9, the proudest day on the Russian calendar, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. “This could affect how quickly and forcefully they attempt to conduct operations in the run-up to this date,” the ministry said. In other developments, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Ukrainians living in areas of southern Ukraine under Russian control not to provide Russians with their IDs, which he said could be used “to falsify a so-called referendum on our land” to create a Moscow-friendly government. “This is a real possibility,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation. “Beware.”
  14. Google has developed a new feature that allows you to view the air quality of major cities within the US. This is likely tied to other sustainability and environmental education efforts from the company for Earth Day on April 22. As reported by MSPoweruser, this feature was initially released in India but has since also been rolled out in Victoria, Australia, and various cities across the US, using data from and PurpleAir. “We’re always working on new ways to connect people with helpful information when they come to Google,” a Google spokesperson said. “We continue to explore ways to make authoritative information on a range of sustainability and environmental topics readily accessible and look forward to sharing more in this space soon.” To use this feature you can simply type "Air quality in Washington DC" (or the name of the city you're searching for) into the search engine on your mobile, laptop, or computer, and you'll be presented with a map of the local area, alongside a US Air Quality Index (AQI) which measures air quality from a scale of 0 to 500. This scale is also color-labeled with the usual Green = good and Red = bad, with specific areas on the map showing how the air quality can differ across the entire city. This is especially useful if you're wanting to relocate, but stay within the city area and wish to be mindful of local pollution. We tried a few other major cities such as London and Paris and found that while metrics are provided in a graph, no map appears to clearly display the air quality in various zones of either city. It also isn't clear how many US cities are included within this feature right now, but we certainly hope that it gets rolled out on a more global scale so we can breathe easy in the knowledge that we can...well, breathe easy. Analysis: good, but we need more Google has a good habit of trying to include additional sustainability efforts across many of its hardware and search engine integrations. Being able to measure the air quality directly is a great asset and one that could benefit folks that live outside of the US. Thing is, there are rival search engines that market themselves as an environmentally friendly alternative to Google, so why isn't it doing more to level the playing field? Ecosia comes to mind, with its promise that using its search engine will plant trees, using funds raised through ad revenues when you use the platform. Does Google do something similar? Perhaps, but I certainly can't find any trace of similar practices, and even searching for results on Google itself using the term 'Does Google plant trees' comes up with pages and pages of articles for Ecosia instead. If the tech giant was making such efforts, it would do well to shout about them more. Thankfully there is a middle ground as Ecosia has a chrome extension that works alongside the Google web browser, though we found that our own company administration blocks this from being installed, which is likely to be a similar story across a lot of corporate devices. Still, with Google integrating functions that allow you to check on pollution and air quality, it would be nice to see if the company was taking greater steps to improve the results given its status as one of the largest companies in the world. The environment is all of our responsibility after all, and Google certainly has more power and money to make changes than asthmatic individuals visiting a new city for the first time.
  15. The gaming PC accessory brand Glorious PC Gaming Race is ditching its controversial meme-inspired name, according to a recent announcement. In a blog post, the company reveals it’ll now go by “Glorious”, while an accompanying rebrand switches out its logo for a simplified silhouette. The Glorious brand was founded back in 2014, and its original name is a spin on the po[CENSORED]r “PC gaming master race” meme. The gag itself originates from an episode of The Escapist’s video review series Zero Punctuation, with journalist Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw using the expression to mock the elitist attitudes of PC gamers. Of course, “master race” is also a reference to Nazi ideology, which inherently added racial overtones to the company’s branding. Glorius says that the brand has “matured” since its “community has expanded to nearly every country in the world, and includes people from all walks of life.” The gaming keyboard and mouse maker also say its refined name is more than just a meme, as it “represents much-needed positivity in the world today.” The Glorious PC Gaming Race Model I will be the last gaming mouse released under the old brand, while new products like the GMMK 2 will feature the new name and logo. The company also confirms that its URL will change in the coming weeks, and existing products will be rebranded over the next “several years”.
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