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Horizon: Zero Dawn may reportedly be heading to PC this year

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Like many of you, I’ve never felt the impact of a steel bow pierce cyborg velociraptor flesh. I’ve never climbed one of Horizon: Zero Dawn‘s whopping great brontosaurus with a flying saucer for a head. No, I’ve only watched our oft-absent PlayStation-owning flatmate steal through the tall grass, watching from the doorway thinking “cor, that looks alright.”

Horizon: Zero Dawn was going to be one of those nifty-looking console games I’d begrudgingly accepted I’d never play. But that might not be the case for much longer. Earlier today, Kotaku reported that Guerrilla Games’ open-world dino-hunter could appear on PC as soon as this year, according to three anonymous sources “familiar with Sony’s plans”.

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kazriko
3 days ago
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If it does, evenyone should play it, one of the two best games of 2017, and probably the entire decade.
Colorado Plateau
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Does Letting Police Enter Your House Give Them Permission To Wreck It?

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When Shaniz West agreed to let police enter her house so they could arrest her former boyfriend, she had no idea she was consenting to a barrage of tear gas grenades that would smash her windows, tear holes in her walls and ceiling, and leave a sticky, noxious residue on her food, furniture, electronics, and clothing. But after she sued for damages, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said the officers responsible for making her home uninhabitable were shielded from liability because it was not "clearly established" at the time that such a wanton destruction of property violated the Fourth Amendment.

In a petition filed today, the Institute for Justice urges the U.S. Supreme Court to review that decision and in the process clarify the doctrine of "qualified immunity," which in many cases lets police off the hook for outrageous conduct when their victims are unable to identify prior rulings involving similar facts. That understanding of the doctrine effectively immunizes officers who find novel ways to violate people's constitutional rights.

The case began on a Wednesday afternoon in August 2014, when West returned to her home in Caldwell, Idaho, where she encountered four local police officers. They were looking for her ex-boyfriend, Fabian Salinas, a gang member wanted for several violent crimes. West said Salinas had been in the house earlier that day, collecting his belongings, and she was not sure whether he was still there. It turned out he wasn't, but the cops did not realize that until after they had wreaked havoc on West's home.

After intimating that West might be arrested for harboring a fugitive, Officer Matthew Richardon asked, "Do we have permission to get inside your house and apprehend him?" West nodded, handed over the key to her front door, and left with a friend who came to pick her up. Instead of entering the house, Sgt. Joe Hoadley summoned a SWAT team, which hatched a three-stage plan of attack that included "us[ing] 12-gauge shotguns to inject tear gas into the house through the windows and the garage door," as two members of a three-judge 9th Circuit panel described it.

Dissenting Judge Marsha Berzon's description better reflects the reality of what happened. "SWAT used a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot tear gas canisters into the home, breaking windows and extensively damaging the walls and ceiling in the process," she wrote. "West's personal belongings and the home itself were saturated in tear gas; broken glass littered the floor; and the walls and ceiling had gaping holes from contact with the tear gas canisters. In the aftermath of the destruction, West and her children could not live in their home for several months."

The majority nevertheless concluded that, even if the operation exceeded the scope of West's consent, case law had not clearly established that point. "Our research has uncovered no controlling Supreme Court or Ninth Circuit decision holding that 'an officer acting under similar circumstances as [Defendants]…violated the Fourth
Amendment,'" wrote Judge Susan Graber in a 2019 opinion joined by Judge Eduardo  Robreno. "Prior precedent must articulate 'a constitutional rule specific enough to alert these [officers] in this case that their particular conduct was unlawful.'"

Judge Berzon suggested that "the likely reason there are no closely similar cases standing for the proposition that officers may not use a general consent to search to take actions that render a home uninhabitable for months is that law enforcement officers well understand that, and do not rely on consent alone to conduct home-destructive activities." Instead of asking whether any federal court had ever declared such an operation unconstitutional, she said, her colleagues should have deemed it telling that no federal court has ever said anything like it is consistent with the Fourth Amendment.

The majority suggested that the Caldwell officers might reasonably have believed West's permission to enter her house included permission to wreck it. "Plaintiff agreed that officers could 'get inside [her] house and apprehend' Salinas," Graber wrote. "Defendants did 'get inside' Plaintiff's house, first with objects and later with people. Plaintiff never expressed a limitation as to time, place within the house, or manner of entry."

Berzon treated that risible argument, which she said "borders on the fantastic," with the scorn it deserved:

West's consent quite obviously contemplated an entry by live human beings, not the tossing of incendiary objects into the house from the outside….The majority adopts an entirely implausible contrary reading of West's consent…Because West "never expressed a limitation as to time, place within the house, or manner of entry," the majority concludes that her consent that officers could "get inside" permitted a violent initial attack on her house with toxic objects. In so concluding, the majority supposes that someone who permits law enforcement officers to "get inside [her] house" while handing over a key consents to the officers not entering the house but instead lobbing dangerous objects, such as tear gas canisters—or stones or bombs, for other examples—into the house from the outside. It further presupposes that, in providing consent to entry, a resident must preemptively forbid actions no one would guess are contemplated by the commonsense understanding of the articulated consent. That is not the law.

In Berzon's view, "interpreting the exchange between West and Officer Richardson as permitting the SWAT attack on West's house as performed is patently unreasonable." Based on principles established in prior cases, she said, "it is clear that extensive property destruction rendering a home uninhabitable goes beyond the limitations inherent in a general consent to search." Hence "any reasonable officer would have known at the time that the search exceeded the scope of West's consent."

The 9th Circuit's decision not only shields the officers involved in this particular incident from liability. It also invites other officers to do the same sort of thing in the future, since the court never actually says whether the Caldwell cops violated the Fourth Amendment. As 5th Circuit Judge Don Willett has noted, the practice of affirming qualified immunity without resolving the underlying constitutional issue creates a "Catch-22," because "plaintiffs must produce precedent even as fewer courts are producing precedent," and "important constitutional questions go unanswered precisely because those questions are yet unanswered."

In its petition, the Institute for Justice argues that West's case is "an ideal vehicle" for resolving a split between appeals courts that agree with Graber's approach to qualified immunity, requiring precedents with facts that closely resemble those of the current case, and appeals courts that favor Berzon's approach, which asks whether police conduct violates well-established constitutional principles even if no court has ever considered anything exactly like it before. "'Courts of appeals are divided—intractably—over precisely what degree of factual similarity must exist' to defeat qualified immunity," the petition notes, quoting a 2019 opinion by Willett. "The split presented by this case is emblematic of a broader disagreement about what constitutes 'clearly established' law for purposes of qualified immunity."

This case is part of a broader Institute for Justice project aimed at getting the Supreme Court to reconsider qualified immunity, an arguably unlawful doctrine it invented in 1982. The Court's application of qualified immunity, Justice Sonia Sotomayor observed in a 2018 dissent joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "tells officers that they can shoot first and think later." Justice Clarence Thomas, who does not agree with Sotomayor and Ginsburg about much else, also has urged his colleagues to reconsider the Court's approach.

"Qualified immunity means that government officials can get away with violating your rights as long as they violate them in a way nobody thought of before," says Institute for Justice attorney Joshua Windham. "Government officials are not above the law, and if citizens must follow the law, the government must follow the Constitution. That includes being held accountable for violating it."



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kazriko
3 days ago
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Another thing you have to remember, among many others I guess. When you give consent to search, you must attach conditions to it.
Colorado Plateau
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What's on TV this week: 'Avenue 5'

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This week HBO launches its new sci-fi/comedy series Avenue 5, which starts Hugh Laurie as the captain of a space cruise ship. If that's not your speed, then you can bring Ang Lee's Gemini Man home, albeit with half of its maximum frame rate, at just...
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kazriko
5 days ago
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HBO's really wanting me to subscribe, getting Hugh Laurie to do something on their network...
Colorado Plateau
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Google quietly removed 'Guest Mode' casting from Home speakers

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Google first introduced Guest Mode on Chromecast to let your friends easily cast from their phone to your TV just by entering a four-digit PIN code. Later on, it carried the feature over to Google Home speakers so that guests could easily play music...
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kazriko
5 days ago
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More reasons you should just stick to open standards for things instead of using proprietary smart speakers. Like bluetooth receivers instead.
Colorado Plateau
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Adding Jobs but Not Housing Is a Recipe for Urban Unrest

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When it comes to the country's urban housing shortage, California gets all the headlines. Yet the situation is not much better in New York City, where surging employment growth is outpacing new construction, leading to longer commutes and higher housing costs.

Since 2008, the 22.6-million-person New York metro area has added 924,000 jobs. Despite this growth, the region has built only 457,000 units of housing, or about one new home for every two jobs. The ratio is even more skewed in New York City, where only one unit of housing has been built for every 3.55 new jobs, according to the city's Department of Planning.

Northern New Jersey is responsible for the lion's share of new residential development, building 40 percent of the metro's post-recession housing despite having only 30 percent of its population and adding only 15 percent of its jobs since 2008. By comparison, New York City overall has added 70 percent of the region's new jobs since 2008 but only 40 percent of its new housing units.

Much of this is policy-driven. New Jersey is relatively accommodating of new development, while New York City has failed to zone for enough housing to keep pace with growth. The New York suburbs, meanwhile, are positively hostile to new building.

The result is that more people are making longer commutes. The New York metro area has the fourth worst traffic in the country, and trains across the Hudson are as overcrowded as they are late. Workers seeking to avoid this drudgery by moving closer to their jobs in the city can expect to pay some of the highest rents in the country.

"Cities are labor markets," says Michael Hendrix, an urban policy scholar with the Manhattan Institute. "If we fail to scale housing and transportation to job centers, then we are failing the basic function of a city."

Hendrix warns that if New York continues to see commute times and housing costs grow, the economic dynamism of the region will decline. Far from embracing necessary reforms, he says policy makers are making things worse by doubling down on rent stabilization, which limits how much landlords can raise rental prices. "They've chosen to preserve units for people who've already lucked out in the housing lottery and lock out newcomers and outsiders," he says.

New York's housing situation has not reached California levels of dysfunction, but housing crises also aren't created overnight. Not building enough today can mean serious problems tomorrow.



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kazriko
6 days ago
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Colorado Plateau
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Why I Quit Using Google

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So I was recently asked why I prefer to use free and open source software over more conventional and popular proprietary software and services.

A few years ago I was an avid Google user. I was deeply embedded in the Google ecosystem and used their products everywhere. I used Gmail for email, Google Calendar and Contacts for PIM, YouTube for entertainment, Google Newsstand for news, Android for mobile, and Chrome as my web browser.

I would upload all of my family photos to Google Photos and all of my personal documents to Google Drive (which were all in Google Docs format). I used Google Domains to register my domain names for websites where I would keep track of my users using Google Analytics and monetize them using Google AdSense.

I used Google Hangouts (one of Google’s previous messaging plays) to communicate with friends and family and Google Wallet (with debit card) to buy things online and in-store.

My home is covered with Google Homes (1 in my office, 1 in my bedroom, 1 in the main living area) which I would use to play music on my Google Play Music subscription and podcasts from Google Podcasts.

I have easily invested thousands of dollars into my Google account to buy movies, TV shows, apps, and Google hardware devices. This was truly the Google life.

Then one day, I received an email from Google that changed everything.

“Your account has been suspended”

Just the thing you want to wake up to in the morning. An email from Google saying that your account has been suspended due to a perceived Terms of Use violation. No prior warning. No appeals process. No number to call. Trying to sign in to your Google account yields an error and all of your connected devices are signed out. All of your Google data, your photos, emails, contacts, calendars, purchased movies and TV shows. All gone.

I nearly had a heart attack, until I saw that the Google account that had been suspended was in fact not my main personal Google account, but a throwaway Gmail account that I created years prior for a project. I hadn’t touched the other account since creation and forgot it existed. Apparently my personal Gmail was listed as the recovery address for the throwaway account and that’s why I received the termination email.

Although I was able to breathe a sigh of relief this time, the email was wake up call. I was forced to critically reevaluate my dependence on a single company for all the tech products and services in my life.

I found myself to be a frog in a heating pot of water and I made the decision that I was going to jump out.

Leaving Google

Today there are plenty of lists on the internet providing alternatives to Google services such as this and this. Although the “DeGoogle” movement was still in its infancy when I was making the move.

The first Google service I decided to drop was Gmail, the heart of my online identity. I migrated to Fastmail with my own domain in case I needed to move again (hint: glad I did, now I self host my email). Fastmail also provided calendar and contacts solutions so that took care of leaving Google Calendar and Contacts.

Here are some other alternatives that I moved to:

Migrating away from Google was not a fast or easy process. It took years to get where I am now and there are still several Google services that I depend on: YouTube and Google Home.

Eventually, my Google Home’s will grow old and become unsupported at which point hopefully the Mycroft devices have matured and become available for purchase. YouTube may never be replaced (although I do hope for projects like PeerTube to succeed) but I find the compromise of using only one or two Google services to be acceptable.

At this point losing my Google account due to a mistake in their machine learning would largely be inconsequential and my focus has shifted to leaving Amazon which I use for most of my shopping and cloud services.

The reason that I moved to mostly FOSS applications is that it seems to be the only software ecosystem where everything works seamlessly together and I don’t have to cede control to any single company. Alternatively I could have simply split my service usage up evenly across Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple but I don’t feel that they would have worked as nicely together.

Overall I’m very happy with the open source ecosystem. I use Ubuntu with KDE on all of my computers and Android (no GApps) on my mobile phone. I’ve ordered the PinePhone “Brave Heart” and hope to one day be able to use it or one of its successors as a daily driver with Ubuntu Touch or Plasma Mobile.

I don’t want to give the impression that I exclusively use open source software either, I do use a number of proprietary apps including: Sublime Text, Typora, and Cloudron.


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kazriko
7 days ago
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Only really covered the direct google products. when you count things that are hosted by Google's cloud, it's almost impossible to get away from them.
Colorado Plateau
fxer
8 days ago
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Bend, Oregon
freeAgent
8 days ago
I see Audible/Kindle in there, which is potentially just as bad as Google where it comes to lock-in and lack of control over one's own "purchased" content. Unfortunately, the alternatives aren't great.
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