Tech News Feed

Fortnite aims at the survival-builder crown with its new Lego mode

Engadget - Thu, 2023-12-07 10:14

Remember when Fortnite was just a battle royale game? After six years of storylines, concerts and even Olympic events, Fortnite has grown beyond its roots into a general catch-all social space. And Epic Games isn’t going back, expanding the Fortnite experience even further with three new modes announced at its Big Bang Event this weekend: a racing game, a social music experience and, most importantly to kids, a Lego-themed survival builder that launches today.

If “Lego-themed survival builder” sounds suspiciously like Minecraft to you, you’re not wrong. Minecraft itself has been burdened with comparisons to Lego since its release over a decade ago; this is just the Lego company returning the favor. There’s a survival mode, where your little Lego minifig explores a verdant landscape punching trees and rocks to gather supplies for building. There are skeletons that wander around at night and will attack if they spot you. Various animals wander around that can provide resources: If you pet a chicken it will produce an egg, though I accidentally punched it first and got nothing as every other chicken proceeded to avoid me for the rest of the day.

Once you get into it, though, the comparisons fall away. The procedurally-generated landscape is realistically rendered thanks to the power of Epic’s Unreal Engine, with natural-looking trees covered in individual leaves and blades of grass that blow in the wind. Punching or chopping natural features is what turns them into Lego elements. It’s weird, almost like you’re colonizing the real world by turning it into a Lego one. It’s also huge, about 20 times the size of the battle royale island.

Once you’ve obtained the materials, building is rather simple. There’s a list of building plans, and your character adorably holds a Lego tile with blueprints on it while you’re in the construction mode. Players get a handful of essential recipes to start like a campfire to keep warm and a shack for shelter, and they can earn more as they play and level up. The game will helpfully sketch a ghostly outline of where each component goes, asking the player to slide and lock it into place. There’s no place for error or major creativity in the basic survival mode — that’s what the sandbox is for. There, all of the building plans will already be unlocked, leaving players free to let their imaginations go wild.

There’s plenty here for Lego devotees, as Epic has scanned around 10,000 different Lego elements for use in the game. All of your favorite pieces should be present, and the company plans to add more in the coming months (there are over 30,000 unique Lego elements total). As this is an official collaboration with the company, many of the graphical assets were received directly from Lego, and only “legal” builds will be allowed (as opposed to “illegal” builds, which refer to Lego configurations that in the real world, may stress or break pieces). Hardcore Lego aficionados will definitely appreciate the attention to detail.

LEGO X FortniteEpic Games

And Epic would certainly like to see more Lego fans playing Fortnite, especially kids. Though it started life as a violence-oriented game, the title has evolved into a gathering space where kids sign on just to socialize with friends. The Lego feature, along with the two other modes Epic announced over the weekend — Fortnite Festival and Rocket Racing — are Epic’s way of facilitating that by providing activities that are more than just running around and shooting. By eschewing the violent elements (as well as controversial practices like loot boxes), Epic also hopes to make Fortnite more palatable to parents.

Lego Fortnite, similarly to Minecraft, lets you customize the challenges you'll face in your world. You can toggle gameplay basics like enemies, hunger, temperate damage, stamina and so on, along with some more advanced features. The mode supports up to eight players in a party, and you can delegate seven of your friends as "key holders" to your world, allowing them to access and edit it when you're not around. Each player can have eight worlds saved to their profile. 

As for existing Fortnite players, they’re free to continue playing as they always have and completely ignore the new modes – the only difference they’ll see is that the main menu has been expanded a bit to accommodate the new options. But, if they do decide to try out the Lego mode, they’ll find plenty that’s familiar, as over 1,200 skin options have already been translated into minifigs, and there are 100 emotes for your character to perform. Players will still earn XP, which will go into their overall stats, as opposed to remaining walled within the Lego mode. Cosmetic elements can be used between modes as well and, when you tab between options in the in-game locker, it will tell you what modes each skin is compatible with.

As this is Fortnite, all of the new modes will be free-to-play, including the Lego survival builder. Epic hopes this will bring new players in, though it remains to be seen whether it can draw significant market share from Minecraft. Existing players will see the new option pop up today (December 7), with the other modes set to follow this week.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

This $250 9th-Gen iPad Is the Perfect Christmas Gift for Your Kids - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 10:10
Picking up a bonafide iPad for just $250 might just make you the parent of the year.

Best Credit Cards for Fair and Average Credit for December 2023 - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 10:05
If you’re still building your credit, focus your attention on practicing good credit habits and finding a card with low fees and transparent terms.

Allbirds' Secret Sale Has Everything You Need This Holiday Season - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 10:03
The brand is known for its cozy loungewear and comfortable footwear, and right now, you can save up to 40% off.

Best Streaming Services for K-Dramas - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 10:00
If you're a fan of Korean dramas like The Glory and The Matchmakers, here's where to stream them anytime.

Today's Best Savings Rates: Dec. 7, 2023 -- The Top High-Yield Savings Accounts Earn APYs Above 5% - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 10:00
The best high-yield savings accounts earn an APY that's 10 times the national average.

Today's Best Savings Rates: Dec. 7, 2023 -- The Top High-Yield Savings Accounts Earn APYs Above 5% - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 10:00
The best high-yield savings accounts earn an APY that's 10 times the national average.

Save on Your Next Water Bottle From Air Up, Yeti and More - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 09:49
Grab a new water bottle and stay hydrated during this holiday season and into the new year.

From Unicorns To Zombies: Tech Startups Run Out of Time and Money

SlashDot - Thu, 2023-12-07 09:40
After staving off collapse by cutting costs, many young tech companies are out of options, fueling a cash bonfire. From a report: WeWork raised more than $11 billion in funding as a private company. Olive AI, a health care start-up, gathered $852 million. Convoy, a freight start-up, raised $900 million. And Veev, a home construction start-up, amassed $647 million. In the last six weeks, they all filed for bankruptcy or shut down. They are the most recent failures in a tech start-up collapse that investors say is only beginning. After staving off mass failure by cutting costs over the past two years, many once-promising tech companies are now on the verge of running out of time and money. They face a harsh reality: Investors are no longer interested in promises. Rather, venture capital firms are deciding which young companies are worth saving and urging others to shut down or sell. It has fueled an astonishing cash bonfire. In August, Hopin, a start-up that raised more than $1.6 billion and was once valued at $7.6 billion, sold its main business for just $15 million. Last month, Zeus Living, a real estate start-up that raised $150 million, said it was shutting down. Plastiq, a financial technology start-up that raised $226 million, went bankrupt in May. In September, Bird, a scooter company that raised $776 million, was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because of its low stock price. Its $7 million market capitalization is less than the value of the $22 million Miami mansion that its founder, Travis VanderZanden, bought in 2021. "As an industry we should all be braced to hear about a lot more failures," said Jenny Lefcourt, an investor at Freestyle Capital. "The more money people got before the party ended, the longer the hangover." Getting a full picture of the losses is difficult since private tech companies are not required to disclose when they go out of business or sell. The industry's gloom has also been masked by a boom in companies focused on artificial intelligence, which has attracted hype and funding over the last year. But approximately 3,200 private venture-backed U.S. companies have gone out of business this year, according to data compiled for The New York Times by PitchBook, which tracks start-ups. Those companies had raised $27.2 billion in venture funding. PitchBook said the data was not comprehensive and probably undercounts the total because many companies go out of business quietly. It also excluded many of the largest failures that went public, such as WeWork, or that found buyers, like Hopin.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Nab AirSelfie Camera Drones for the Holidays From $97 - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 09:35
These compact selfie drones have a 1080p camera and a 60-foot flight range for shooting photos and videos with a view.

Today's Best CD Rates: Dec. 7, 2023 -- Recent Rate Drops Make Now a Good Time to Open a CD - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 09:30
Locking in a high APY today protects your earnings from future rate drops.

Tidal is laying off 10 percent of its staff

Engadget - Thu, 2023-12-07 09:01

Music streamer Tidal has announced that it will lay off 10 percent of its staff as part of a cost-cutting strategy detailed last month by Jack Dorsey, CEO of parent company Block Inc. The move affects approximately 40 people from multiple departments, including Tidal's playlist curation team. "We do not take these decisions lightly, and we are sincerely grateful for the contributions of our impacted teammates,” a Tidal spokesperson said in an email seen by Bloomberg.

In early November, Dorsey said Block would cap its payroll at 12,000 employees, in search of "constraints we believe will lead to greater growth." That meant Block would need to lay off around 1,000 employees by the end of 2024, as it had 13,000 staff at the end of Q3 2023. 

The move comes at an unfortunate time of year for employees, and follows major layoffs by Spotify. In a pre-holiday shocker on Monday, Spotify announced that it would cut 1,500 workers, or 17 percent of its workforce.

Tidal recently raised its subscription prices following similar moves by Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer. Those companies now charge $11 per month (up from $10) for an individual subscription, while Amazon Music recently bumped its individual plan from $9 to $10 per month. On the video streaming side, YouTube Premium recently went up from $12 to $14 per month, while services including Peacock, Paramount+, Hulu and Max all raised their prices. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

India Calls Out Inequalities at COP28 Climate Summit

SlashDot - Thu, 2023-12-07 09:00
India wants to be the voice of the global south in the negotiations. But can the world's most populous nation cut its massive coal use? From a report: India is pitching itself as a leader of the global south at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), under way in Dubai. During his opening speech at the meeting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a sharp rebuke to wealthy nations: "A small section of mankind has exploited nature indiscriminately. But the whole of humanity is paying its price, especially the residents of the global south." But India -- now the world's most populous nation -- relies heavily on coal to meet its energy needs, and faces a difficult path to cutting its emissions to net zero. The country's priority remains reducing poverty -- which India says requires more energy use -- but more action on climate change is essential, say researchers. "If we have to reach net-zero by 2050 collectively, then India's share in that collective goal should be a significant one," says Nandini Das, a climate researcher based in Perth, Australia, who works for the global research group Climate Action Tracker. But she adds that in terms of finance, "India requires substantial international support." India is the world's third biggest carbon producer, accounting for 7.3% of global greenhouse-gas emissions in 2022. But those emissions come from 1.43 billion people, accounting for 18% of the world's population. India's per capita emissions last year were equivalent to 2.76 tonnes of carbon dioxide, less than one-sixth of the per capita emissions of the United States and 24 times smaller than the figure for Qatar, the world's largest per capita emitter. India's average standard of living is far below those of the United States and Qatar, with 210 million people living in poverty according to United Nations metrics. India has maintained that coal -- a cheap fossil fuel readily available in the country -- is required to power its economic development. Coal supplied 73% of India's electricity in 2022; and in November this year, the country announced that it would install 80 gigawatts of new coal-fired power-generation capacity by 2032. "We have to give a fair share to all developing countries in the global carbon budget," Modi said at COP28.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

What Happens to My Money if My Bank Closes? - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 09:00
Bank failures don’t happen often, but you can protect your money at an FDIC-insured bank or NCUA-insured credit union.

How Cryptographic 'Secret Sharing' Can Keep Information Safe

Scientifc America - Thu, 2023-12-07 09:00

One safe, five sons and betrayal: this principle shows how shared knowledge can protect secrets—without having to trust anyone

Pay Just $25 For These EarFun Free 2S Wireless Earbuds Today - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 08:35
The EarFun Free 2S wireless earbuds are just $25, but they might not stay that way for long.

Yes, There's an Ideal Temperature to Set Your Thermostat for Winter - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 08:00
Keep the shivers at bay and save money on heating when you set the thermostat to this temperature.

iPhone Storage Saver Tip: Delete Identical Photos From iCloud Right Now - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 08:00
We all love capturing memories, but duplicate photos are a storage hog for iPhone users. Here's how to delete the doubles.

These Are the Best Wireless Earbuds for 2023 video - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-12-07 08:00
What are our favorite wireless earbuds of the year? CNET editor David Carnoy presents his picks for the top truly wireless earbuds of 2023. The list includes 5 premium models and two bonus options, all released in 2023.

Android Vulnerability Exposes Credentials From Mobile Password Managers

SlashDot - Thu, 2023-12-07 08:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: A number of popular mobile password managers are inadvertently spilling user credentials due to a vulnerability in the autofill functionality of Android apps. The vulnerability, dubbed "AutoSpill," can expose users' saved credentials from mobile password managers by circumventing Android's secure autofill mechanism, according to university researchers at the IIIT Hyderabad, who discovered the vulnerability and presented their research at Black Hat Europe this week. The researchers, Ankit Gangwal, Shubham Singh and Abhijeet Srivastava, found that when an Android app loads a login page in WebView, password managers can get "disoriented" about where they should target the user's login information and instead expose their credentials to the underlying app's native fields, they said. This is because WebView, the preinstalled engine from Google, lets developers display web content in-app without launching a web browser, and an autofill request is generated. "Let's say you are trying to log into your favorite music app on your mobile device, and you use the option of 'login via Google or Facebook.' The music app will open a Google or Facebook login page inside itself via the WebView," Gangwal explained to TechCrunch prior to their Black Hat presentation on Wednesday. "When the password manager is invoked to autofill the credentials, ideally, it should autofill only into the Google or Facebook page that has been loaded. But we found that the autofill operation could accidentally expose the credentials to the base app." Gangwal notes that the ramifications of this vulnerability, particularly in a scenario where the base app is malicious, are significant. He added: "Even without phishing, any malicious app that asks you to log in via another site, like Google or Facebook, can automatically access sensitive information." The researchers tested the AutoSpill vulnerability using some of the most popular password managers, including 1Password, LastPass, Keeper and Enpass, on new and up-to-date Android devices. They found that most apps were vulnerable to credential leakage, even with JavaScript injection disabled. When JavaScript injection was enabled, all the password managers were susceptible to their AutoSpill vulnerability. Gangwal says he alerted Google and the affected password managers to the flaw. Gangwal tells TechCrunch that the researchers are now exploring the possibility of an attacker potentially extracting credentials from the app to WebView. The team is also investigating whether the vulnerability can be replicated on iOS.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.