FTC vs Big Tech: Should you be concerned?


The chair of the FTC, Lina Khan, is loading up to take steps in regulating the data privacy practices of big businesses. The FTC voted 3-2 to... seek feedback in terms of the harms stemming from commercial surveillance and whether new rules are necessary to protect people's privacy and info.

The regulations could lead to a revision of how companies collect and use our personal information online, which threatens a business model that big tech relies on (which is targeted advertising). Have you ever talked about a certain product and had that product pop up as an ad just a few minutes later?

We can't exactly call that a... coincidence, and with the world spinning more and more into a digital direction, the leash appears to be increasing to accommodate the growing size of big tech. 

The FTC might have a challenging fight ahead (according to Axios) when you consider the Supreme Court ruling that limited the EPA's authority over the power industry. Which... (hmmm) I don't know about you, but I think it sucks that certain companies (that do hella damage to the planet) get to turn around and charge top dollar to the masses who are ultimately affected by the lasting effects. 

Basically... the EPA would have to go through congress before actions can take place to protect the people.

So going back to the FTC, they will have some climbing to do because judges are getting more vicious about agencies having authority... regardless of what it's worth. The Supreme Court also overturned the CDC's eviction moratorium, which I won't jump into... but I'm just giving you an idea of what they can swat down.

Should you be concerned? Well, it all depends on who you're cheering for and what matters to you. The FTC is trying to poke the eyes and deafen the ears trying to get all up in your business to a degree, while Big Tech is trying to make money with targeted advertising (which also keeps certain products/platforms like Youtube free). Free isn't always a good thing because the cheap can come out expensive, which you can see with certain apps. I get suspicious when it comes to free software.

A happy medium goes a long way between the FTC and Big Tech, mainly if it's a win for the masses.

It's going to be a challenge to keep eyes and ears out of your home altogether (unless you treat it like a standup starring Dave Chappelle), but I personally wouldn't have products like Meta (Facebook) Portal just sitting in my home or studio soaking up every bit of audio/visual feedback as possible. If I were to get something of the sort, I would only power it up when in use (off would be unplugged too). The same goes for Alexa, Google, and any other products I have the ability to control like that. You're able to play your part in maintaining your privacy... if you really need products like these, you just have to be consistent in order for it to be worth it. We don't know what else they're listening to and watching. Is it just for advertisement purposes or to improve products? You be the judge... and game on!

Speaking of privacy, if you aren't a fan of saving your passwords in
the cloud or on a PC... grabbed a Password Logger (hardcover book).

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First 30 - Skul: The Hero Slayer


Skul: The Hero Slayer Skul is a fast-paced action rogue-lite where losing your head is encouraged. Featuring 90 playable characters each with their own unique abilities and a ton of items that can create wild synergies, the battles are as electrifying as they are challenging. The Demon King's Castle in Ruins The human race attacking the Demon King's castle is nothing new and has happened countless times before. What makes this time different though, is that the Adventurers decided to join forces with the Imperial Army and the 'Hero of Caerleon' to lead a full onslaught in hopes of wiping out the Demons once and for all. They attacked the Demon stronghold with overwhelming numbers and succeeded in its total destruction. All of the demons in the castle were taken prisoner except for one lone skeleton named 'Skul'. Side-Scrolling Platformer Action 'Skul: The Hero Slayer' is an action-platformer that boasts rogue-like features such as ever-changing and challenging maps. It will keep you on your toes, as you will never know what to expect. Tons of skulls, tons of playable characters Skul is no ordinary skeleton. In addition to his formidable fighting skills, he can gain new and exciting abilities depending on which skull he's wearing. Use up to 2 skulls at a time, each of which has its own unique attack range, speed and power. Choose combos that match your playing style and switch them in the heat of battle to bring your enemies to their knees. The power is in your hands! The Adventurers Skul has crossed paths with a party of Adventurers! They are powerful foes that hunt Demons for sport. While Skul may be small, he still packs quite a punch. So just wait and see who really is the hunter and who is the hunted.... Bosses Corrupted by Dark Quartz At the end of every chapter, go head-to-head with massive bosses corrupted with Dark Quartz and powerful beyond belief. Derived from the pain and hate of life itself, Dark Quartz taints and takes control of everything it touches.

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Nintendo Of America hit with another labor complaint this year?!

As reported by Axios, this new labor complaint comes just months after a similar complaint was sent to the National Labor Relations Board... stemming from an employee seeking better work conditions. 

I could mention the firm that's also under fire, but... they're working for Nintendo to provide U.S. contractors.

The complaints allege that the companies have "coercive rules", and retaliated in a sneaky way that resulted in a worker either being disciplined or discharged for engaging in protected activities along with others. This may seem like fluff, but Axios explained that these types of complaints generally arise when employers interfere with employees discussing workplace conditions and unionizing.

Nintendo and the firm have yet to reply to requests for comment. I'm sure they're going to remain as silent as possible until they get a game plan in place. I won't say that my issue with Nintendo years back (2nd party development related) confirms that they can't be trusted, but... would I put it past them to do something like this? I wouldn't put it past any company, but they're playing with fire if it's true.

I can't put a stamp on whether it's actually true or not (Nintendo's not going to admit it in my opinion) but... there's a weird same going on here. The prior complaint was brought to light by Kotaku who said the worker was allegedly terminated after inquiring about unionization in a company meeting. Nintendo fired back on that one and said the worker was terminated because they divulged information that was supposed to be confidential. I don't know if this is true or false, but Nintendo has a bigger voice than the worker.

Something happened at that time though, because more of that... weird same came out when current and former contractors at Nintendo began to speak out to media outlets like Axios about infuriating conditions. 2022 isn't the only time this occurred either.

Axios mentioned complaints about... conditions across the industry (my guess is to avoid pointing the finger directly at Nintendo) and said that the complaints were mainly based on excessive hours + negative work conditions + low pay. So there's that, but regarding the current complaints... the NLRB is currently investigating the complaints, and if it's true... I hope this works out well for the dev team members.

Developers, this is certainly something to learn from. If Nintendo is truly doing this to contractors or employees in general, it's messed up. Think about what it could ultimately do to them and any developers considering such. If more contractors/workers get burned (via termination) that could result in a domino effect because more work falls on the remaining team... and some of you know all too well what happens when you're burned-out. The company is nothing without the team.

Is the Surface Laptop Go 2... Worth the Buy?


While working on a pending project... I got a little sidetracked eyeing the Surface Laptop Go 2. The first version turned my head, but what features do the Surface Laptop Go 2 have that make it worth the purchase?

Let's jump in.

Before I speak on anything else, I have to point out the fact that the laptop has a 12.4" PixelSense touchscreen... which isn't the biggest. So if you were looking for a bigger laptop... keep looking, but... if you were looking for a laptop on the smaller side... this will likely be the smallest quality option you will find. By the way, even if I own other laptops, a well-equipped smaller laptop wouldn't turn me off if it has specific factors I'm looking for. I'm not always in the mood to handle a larger laptop... and I know a number of people in that boat... and one of the perks of this laptop is that it only weighs in at 2.48 pounds... making it the lightest surface laptop thus far.

The Surface Laptop Go 2 comes in Platinum, Sage, Ice Blue, and Sandstone. Platinum has more of a professional touch in my opinion, but the Sage + Sandstone models look nice also. The Ice Blue is... cool (and blue is my favorite color), but... I would love to see this one in a different shade of blue.

This laptop features a full-size keyboard and rocks a 10-point multi-touch screen. 

Before I forget: The 12.4" PixelSense display has the same resolution of 1536 x 1024 (148ppi) screen... as the original Laptop Go.

One thing I'm not crazy about with the entry model... is the RAM and the memory (yikes). 4GB? That's a no-no, I think they all should be 8GB to give the actual laptop justice and bump the storage up on the others. 128GB SSD comes with the entry and mid-range models. 256GB SSD could be for the mid with more for the higher end. I know that some of you don't use as much storage as some of us so aim towards your needs (I can use up 128GB within a few hours). Looking at the price, I'd say if you plan to get your hands on this at all... grab the mid-range at least but it's only $50 less than the best model sooo... consider the best option.

By the way, Microsoft showcases Xbox Game Pass on this laptop, but... that would only make sense with the games playable with lower specs or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which gives you the ability to play from the cloud. I mention this for the parents who may see the games and assume this is a gaming laptop.

For Artists:

I would say that the Surface Laptop Go 2 is also a missed opportunity for artists who want a 2-in-1 for drawing... but that's a segue into getting a Surface Go 3 (if you don't mind the keyboard attachment cover). I was just thinking of the Surface Laptop Go 2's best model at least having the ability to be folded back so that it can be drawn on. It's light, you can use it as a laptop, and it could've been an awesome drawing tablet alternative that you could fold back and use a Microsoft Surface Pen on. It's easy to shrug that off though... because you can get the Surface Go 3 with 8GB RAM + 128GB SSD for less than the entry Surface Laptop Go 2. The entry for the SG3 is $399.99, adding a keyboard attachment/cover would still land you at about $70 less (though you're looking at 4GB RAM + 64GB eMMC storage).

You can always connect an external drawing tablet, but... I'd suggest the Surface Go 3 for artists, while those looking for a small(er than average) laptop to consider the Surface Laptop Go 2.

Additional specs are as follows:

One Touch sign-in w/ Finger Print Power Button (excluding the base model)
Quad Core 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 Processor 2.42 - 4.2GHz
Firmware TPM 2.0
(for security purposes... like with Bitlocker)
Windows 11 Home
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 1-month trial
(cloud gaming, but don't forget your controller)
Ambient light sensor
1 USB-C port
1 USB-A port
3.5mm headphone jack
1 Surface Connect port
(for your charger and Surface Dock connection)
720p HD f2.0 camera (front-facing)... though the best version should've been 1080p
Dual far-field Studio Mics
Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Audio Premium:
I haven't had the opportunity to sit down and experience the Omnisonic speaker like that... so I can't really tell you where they land on the cool point meter, but they're utilizing Dolby Audio Premium. Dolby Audio Premium delivers a virtual surround sound experience... so if these speakers deliver in quality... the software will do the rest.
WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.1
Battery life
(up to) 13.5 hours

I personally wouldn't drop the coin on the Surface Laptop Go 2... but if I did, I'd go for the best version. That said, realistically, it doesn't have what I'm looking for... and I wouldn't want it to collect dust because of that. If I had a specific project that required me to travel frequently, I'd add this to a comparison list... but I think the specs would lose out to the competition (even under the same brand).

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First 30: Trek To Yomi

As a vow to his dying Master, the young swordsman Hiroki is sworn to protect his town and the people he loves against all threats. Faced with tragedy and bound to duty, the lone samurai must voyage beyond life and death to confront himself and decide his path forward.