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The word “Angus” conjures up the spirit of quality American beef, and it’s used by restaurants and grocery stores alike to push their products. When I was a tween, my favorite food was beef, and my favorite “grown-up” restaurant was Black Angus, a mid-level steakhouse chain that served a savory steak soup with sweet…
NVIDIA Confirms That The Majority of PC Gamers Won’t Be Able To Buy A Gaming Graphics Card This Year, Shortages To Persist Throughout 2021
NVIDIA has issued a new statement on the ongoing gaming GPU shortages which confirms that it will be hard for gamers to get their hands on brand new gaming graphics cards till next year. The company's CFO, Colette Kress, stated this during NVIDIA's annual investors day earlier this week & well, 2021 can't get any worse for PC gamers.
NVIDIA Says That GPU Demand Will Continue To Exceed Supply For Much of 2021 Making It Hard For PC Gamers To Find A Brand New Graphics Card
Ever since the launch of the GeForce RTX 30 series, NVIDIA & its CEO, Jensen Huang, has issued multiple statements regarding the persistent GPU shortages. The company stated that shipping and logistics along with shortages of components are resulting in poor supply for their next-gen graphics cards, resulting in price hikes by various retailers. To make matter worse, the crypto boom has resulted in miners gobbling up large quantities of gaming graphics cards leaving dust for actual PC gamers.
The largest contributing factors to the low supply are the lack of raw materials, outsourcing, the pandemic, and the revival of the crypto craze. Another factor that isn't affecting the supply, but is affecting the price is the lack of tariff exemptions. This has even led hardware manufactures to raise the prices of their components.
The first three factors can all be combined because resources and outsourcing go hand in hand. The pandemic has limited the production process. NVIDIA is a fabless semiconductor developer meaning that they do not have the capacity to produce their own cards on a mass scale. In order to make the cards, NVIDIA outsources the production of the graphics card to TSMC and Samsung. The lack of raw materials to manufacture the cards goes further up the supply chain.
“We expect demand to continue to exceed supply for much of this year,” CFO Colette Kress said during Nvidia's annual investors day on Monday.
“Our operations team is agile and executing fantastically. We expect our supplies to increase as the year progresses,” she added.
NVIDIA did launch countermeasures to revert a portion of the supply back in the hands of PC gamers in the form of limiting crypto hash rate on its new gaming graphics cards & launching crypto mining dedicated CMP series GPUs but that didn't work in NVIDIA's favor. Not only were miners able to bypass the hash rate limit but the CMP cards currently listed on retail are priced ridiculously high and don't deliver the same benefits as a gaming graphics card does.
For example, the CMP cards feature a 3-month warranty compared to a full 3-year warranty which the gaming graphics cards do. Furthermore, the CMP cards don't offer the mining value as GPUs do. Even the older GeForce cards output a much higher hash rate compared to the CMP cards at a lower price. However, NVIDIA recently increased its CMP mining GPU revenue estimate by $100 Million which means that there are indeed large orders being made by miners for CMP offerings.
Now things aren't all grim and NVIDIA expects the supply to get better as the year progresses but even if the company can increase its gaming graphics card inventory eventually, crypto miners are still a hurdle in between for PC gamers. We have also seen scalpers taking advantage of the whole situation and buying up entire seconds in literal seconds of launch and then proceeding to sell the same cards on 3rd party websites for exorbitant rates. These are definitely hard times to be a PC gamer whether you want an AMD or NVIDIA gaming graphics card for your PC and things look like they won't be changing till 2022.
Factorio. I played Factorio. A reasonable person could say that perhaps I played too much Factorio. I don’t know. I’m not a reasonable person and I don’t have time to argue about it because I’m too busy trying to scale up my power plant and solve the traffic jams my trains keep creating.
I’ve been messing around with various cheat mods, and I’ve found the game to be more engrossing than ever. It’s a lot like my recent obsession with Cities Skylines. Sometimes cheats can make a game more interesting by allowing you to focus more time on the parts that most interest you. I wouldn’t want to have these cheats when I’m learning the game, but once you’ve mastered the systems it’s nice to skip the early game and small-scale stuff so you can focus on the large throughput and optimization challenges.
I’ve also been using mods that add more conveyor belts to the game. In the base game, there are three tiers of conveyor belts:
- Lame, worthless, and stupidly slow yellow belts that can deliver 15 items per second.
- Tolerable red belts that deliver 30 items per second.
- Nice cyan belts that deliver 45 items per second.
The mod I’m using adds 5 more tiers that go all the way up to a brain-melting 270 items per second. That sounds game-breaking, but I discovered that it really just delays the inevitable. No matter how fast your belts get, you’ll quickly scale up and hit the new limit. Just like internet speeds, hard drives, and CPU speeds in the 90s, it doesn’t take long for your fancy new tech to become the new bottleneck.
It’s a bit like this Jon Blow talk I’ve linked to before:
Blow talks about how our software is getting worse as our machines get faster. Instead of making programs better, the extra power ends up being consumed by poor engineering. As an example he compares different versions of Adobe Photoshop. In the 90s, it took several seconds to load the program off of your slow-ass hard drive. Then 20 years later we have computers that are literally thousands of times faster, but the program is somehow even less responsive.
In short, you can make massive improvements to throughput in Factorio, but you can’t get them by just making the individual parts operate faster. You need to attack the problem on an engineering level and think about your production on a macro scale.
I love this game.
This is another entry in the recent trend of 90s retro shooters. Like contemporaries Dusk, STRAFE, Ion Fury, Amid Evil, Devil Daggers, WRATH: Aeon of Ruin, and (to a lesser extent) Get to the Orange Door, this game rummages through the big toybox of classic 90s gameplay, looking for what elements it wants to preserve and what it wants to change.
A lot of these games have the “problem” that they re-create the frantic pace of the original games. That’s not a problem if you’re into non-stop action, but 25 years later I find the relentless tempo of the old games to be exhausting. In 2004 Half-Life 2 featured crucial moments of deliberate quiet time, and that changed how I think about shooters.
Sure, there were quiet moments in DOOM and Quake, but those moments were probably the result of you taking a wrong turn or getting lost. Spending five minutes running around at breakneck speed looking for the RED keycard isn’t really quiet time, even if the shooting has stopped. Half-Life 2 gave us moments of quiet time that had been deliberately crafted by the designer. There would be some slow, forlorn music playing. You’d hear some ominous sounds in the distance like crows or groaning metal. The game would create a sense of isolation while you explored the space to solve a puzzle and catch your breath. Those moments of downtime made it so that you could really feel the impact when things slammed into high gear again.
That sensation of “calm before the storm” didn’t exist in the 90s. And it seems to have fallen out of favor with modern shooters as well. These days “quiet time” just means you get locked in a room while someone takes an exposition dump on you. That’s not quiet time, that’s a movie. (And usually, a bad movie.)
So I find a lot of these old games to be too tiring to play for extended periods of time. Those old games were half my life ago, so maybe that’s my age talking. But maybe Half-Life 2 ruined the old games for me. In any case, I can only play these modern throwbacks for about thirty minutes before I’m numb from the endless screaming and gunfire.
Prodeus doesn’t quite have Half-Life 2 style quiet time, but the game does have some variation in its pacing. It’s not just an endless maze full of repetitive gunfights. Most levels are built around an idea. Maybe you need to make a long climb. Or maybe the area starts out as a linear series of rooms, but as you go you keep opening doors to previous rooms, opening up the layout until it’s kind of a large arena. Some levels will take you through the same room several times, but the room will feature a new twist every time you enter.
My favorite level is Marksman, where there’s a huge tower in the middle of the level. There are snipers in the tower, and they hound you constantly as you work your way around and then ascend to finally get in behind them. It made for some interesting 2-axis fights. I need to keep moving to deal with the foes in front of me, but I also need to manage my line-of-sight to the tower on my right.
The constant twists and variations in level design made the game feel like more than an endless series of rooms to circle-strafe in. And the game does have deliberate quiet moments here and there. Often you’ll emerge from the base / caves / tunnels into the daylight and you’ll have a vista to take in rather than another gunfight. The whole experience is a masterclass in level design.
I’ve gone through all of the existing levels (the game is currently in early access) for now. I’m really looking forward to the next batch of content. Highly recommended.
What Happened to all the Porno?
In the middle of last year, I noticed that there were always two or three adult titles in the top 20 best-sellers on Steam. That stood out to me. Nobody talks about these games, yet they were topping the charts. At the same time, people in other countries were saying that they hadn’t observed a surge in adult titles. Was this a fluke? Did it have something to do with the pandemic?
So I subscribed to a VPN. I had this idea for a post / series where I was going to look at the best-selling lists on Steam in different countries and see where these games were selling. But then I put it off while I finished up my series on Jedi Fallen Order, and then I put it off some more because I was working on the Book.
And then I noticed that the craze seems to have ended. A couple of weeks ago I checked in and there weren’t any adult games on the charts. Weird. I don’t know enough about this genre / subculture to make sense of this.
What Have You Been Playing?
So what’s going on these days? Catching up on new stuff? Retro stuff? Indie? AAA? What’s good? What games should we avoid?
A former Kansas utility worker has been charged with remotely tampering with a public water system’s cleaning procedures, highlighting the difficulty smaller utilities face in protecting against hackers.
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) this week published details on additional malware identified on compromised Microsoft Exchange servers, namely China Chopper webshells and DearCry ransomware.
Most hard-boiled egg recipes will tell you to cover your eggs with cold water, bring them to a boil, then cover and move them off the heat for 12 minutes or so. In my experience, this has always resulted in eggs that are impossible to peel.
In 2019, we informed you about Far Cry 2 Redux. And today, modder ‘PuppyUnicorn’ released a reworked version of it. This is a mod for those that want to replay this classic FC game, and we highly recommend downloading it. Far Cry 2: Modernized is essentially a game overhaul; prioritizing graphical fidelity, realism, and consistency. … Continue reading Far Cry 2 Modernized HD Mod is now available for download →
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Subnautica: Below Zero, which takes the alien underwater survival of the original game to a frosty new planet, is finally arriving in full form after over two years in Steam Early Access. On top of that, the game is also launching on both current and next-gen consoles and the Nintendo Switch. Here’s a new cinematic trailer for Subnautica: Below Zero…
Fun stuff! Of course, the real game doesn’t look quite so good, but the trailer provides a pretty good idea of the many challenges you’ll face. Haven’t been keeping up with Subnautica: Below Zero? Do check out Wccftech's full hands-on preview and the following official description:
From Unknown Worlds Entertainment, presents the return to the world of 4546B with Subnautica: Below Zero. Dive into a freezing underwater adventure on an alien planet. Set one year after the original Subnautica, Below Zero challenges you to survive the icy biomes both above and below the surface. Craft tools scavenge for supplies and unravel the next chapter in the Subnautica story.
- Survival is Key – Gather valuable materials, craft tools, manage your hunger and thirst, all while evading the dangerous wildlife that sees you as its next meal
- The Mysteries Submerged – You came here in search of answers. You risked everything to get here
- Exploration – Delve into unique aquatic and terrain biomes that will unlock not only materials, but the answers that you seek
- Build your Habitat – Crafting and building the comforts of home here. These bases will be integral for your survival from not only the wildlife, but also the harsh environment around you
Subnautica: Below Zero swims onto PC (via Steam and Epic), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, and Switch on May 14, and pre-orders are open now. The Switch is also getting the original Subnautica for the first time as well as a combo pack that includes the first game and Below Zero.
The post Subnautica: Below Zero Finally Leaves PC Early Access and Hits Consoles in May by Nathan Birch appeared first on Wccftech.
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If you've bested The Witcher 3 - and by Witcher 3, I mean the RPG game's full experience, two expansions and all - you'll have encountered Orianna's quest, Blood Simple. Featured as a possible main quest in the game's second DLC, Blood and Wine, it ends with something of a loose end - but now a new standalone quest mod aims to tell the tale to its end. Spoilers ahead, folks.
Nikich340's Witcher 3 new quest mod is called A Night To Remember, and it continues Orianna's questline beyond where Blood and Wine stops - so, after the point at which Geralt lets the vampire go, having vowed to deal with her should they ever cross paths again. It's described as a "completely new adventure featuring characters new and old", with "new writing, cutscenes, voice acting, assets, a special reward, and some difficult decisions..." Gulp.
What this new adventure - and these tricky new decisions - might bring exactly aren't detailed on the mod's page, but you can get a flavour of the quest in the clip below. Plus, the creator notes in the mod's comments that "after completing the quest you may try [...]other variants in main dialogue scenes to get another ending", so it sounds like there'll be different outcomes at its conclusion. Neat.The Witcher 3 mods, The Witcher 4 news, Play The Witcher 3
While GTA Online offers plenty of hustle and bustle, some people prefer the solace of single-player. You can still live amongst Los Santos and go about your day-to-day grind, though chances are you won't be blown to bits by a rocket from a flying motorbike. While GTA Online's heists are one of the few things that tempt me to break stride, even those are coming to single-player thanks to the work of modders.
HKH191 managed to bring the crime game's most recent outing, the Cayo Perico heist, to GTA 5's offline mode, finally allowing me to rob El Rubio as Trevor. You're even getting the Kosatka, a chonking giant submarine with missiles that features in the Cayo Percio update.
The heist comes with five startup missions and one big finale. Much like GTA Online, you can do this one solo, but you can get a team of AI teammates if you fancy tackling this with a gang. The way you approach the finale still comes down to decisions you make, such as what vehicle you want to kick things off with.GTA 5 mods, GTA 6, Buy GTA V
Square Enix is giving Nier: Automata's Steam version some TLC. The publisher took to Twitter to tell fans that an "upgrade patch" for the sombre RPG is currently in development. That's all the details we have right now, but Square Enix says it'll have more information to share with you at a "later date".
This all follows Nier: Automata's Become As Gods edition coming to Game Pass on PC after being available on Xbox One. Fans reckon it's a much better version of the game on Steam, so they started review bombing the one that's available on Valve's storefront.
When the game was initially released in 2017, people came across UI problems, awkward controls, a locked framerate, and other issues. As such, a mod called Fix Automata Resolution swiftly became the recommended way to play one of Yoko Taro's best games on PC. The Become as Gods version that Game Pass has got, meanwhile, comes with a borderless window mode, runs smoother, and has upscaled textures, which the Steam version owners would quite like.
Bleeping Computer reported on April 8 that Microsoft has released an open-source cyberattack simulator which permits security researchers and data scientists to create simulated network environments and see how they operate against AI-controlled cyber agents.
The project is named 'CyberBattleSim' built using a Python-based Open AI Gym interface.
The Microsoft 365 Defender Research team created CyberBattleSim to model how a threat actor spreads laterally through a network after its initial compromise. Nice graphics included in the link above.
The Microsoft Defender Research Team, in new blog post, says "The environment consists of a network of computer nodes. It is parameterized by a fixed network topology and a set of predefined vulnerabilities that an agent can exploit to laterally move through the network. The simulated attacker's goal is to take ownership of some portion of the network by exploiting these planted vulnerabilities. While the simulated attacker moves through the network, a defender agent watches the network activity to detect the presence of the attacker and contain the attack."
To build their simulated environment, researchers will create various nodes on the network and indicate that services are running on each node, their vulnerabilities, and how the device is protected.
Automated cyber agents (threat actors) are then deployed in the environment, where they randomly select actions to perform against the various nodes to take control over them.
While many of these activities may trigger alerts in an XDR or SIEM system, Microsoft hopes that the security community can use this simulator to better understand how AI can analyze post-breach movements and better defend against them.
Microsoft said, "With CyberBattleSim, we are just scratching the surface of what we believe is a huge potential for applying reinforcement learning to security. We invite researchers and data scientists to build on our experimentation. We're excited to see this work expand and inspire new and innovative ways to approach security problems."
Shall we play a game?
Hat tip to Dave Ries.
Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., President, Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225|Fairfax, VA 22030
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology
There is no greater incentive for getting vaccinated than doing your part to end the pandemic that has singularly redefined our lives over the past year. And as a show of appreciation for your efforts, Sam Adams wants to give you your first post-jab brew on the house.
I've been putting some serious thought into the topic of a new #DFIR model, and in an effort to extend and expand upon my previous post a bit, I wanted to take the opportunity to document and share some of my latest thoughts.
I've discussed toolmarks and artifact constellations previously in this blog, and how they apply to attribution. In discussing a new #DFIR model, the question that arises is, how do we describe an artifact or toolmark constellation in a structured manner, so that it can be communicated and shared?
Of course, the next step after that, once we have a structured format for describing these constellations, is automating the sharing and "machine ingestion" of these constellation descriptions. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's discuss a possible structure a bit more.
The New #DFIR Model
First off, to orient ourselves, figure 1 illustrates the proposed "new" #DFIR model from my previous blog post. We still have the collect, parse, and enrich/decorate phases prior to the output and data going to the analyst, but in this case, I've highlighted the "enrich/decorate" phase with a red outline, as that is where the artifact constellations would be identified.
|Fig 1: New DFIR Model|
- UserAssist entry in the NTUSER.DAT indicating Defender Control was launched
- Prefetch file created for Defender Control (file system/MFT; not for Windows server systems)
- Registry values added/modified in the Software hive
- "Microsoft-Windows-Windows Defender%4Operational.evtx" event records generated
|Fig 2: WinDefend Exclusions|
At this point, a couple of thoughts or ideas jump out at me. First, the individual artifacts within the constellation can be listed in a fashion similar to what's seen in Yara rules, with similar "strings" based upon the source. Remember, by the time we're to the "enrich/decorate" phase, we've already normalized the disparate data sources into a common structure, perhaps something similar to the five-field TLN format used in (my) timelines. The time field of the structure would allow us to identify artifacts within a specified temporal proximity, and each description field would need to be treated or handled (that is, itself parsed) differently based upon the source field. The source field from the normalized structure could be used in a similar manner as the various 'string' identifiers in Yara (i.e., 'ascii', 'nocase', 'wide', etc.) in that they would identify the specific means by which the description field should be addressed.
Some elements of the artifact constellation may not be required, and this could easily be addressed through something similar to Yara 'conditions', in that the various artifacts could be grouped with parens, as well as 'and' and 'or', identifying those artifacts that may not be required for the constellation to be effective, although not complete. From the above examples, the Registry values being modified would be "required", as without them, Windows Defender would not be disabled. However, a Prefetch file would not be "required", particularly when the platform being analyzed is a Windows server. This could be addressed through the "condition" statement used in Yara rules, and a desirable side effect of having a "scoring value" would be that an identified constellation would then have something akin to a "confidence rating", similar to what is seen on sites such as VirusTotal (i.e., "this sample was identified as malicious by 32/69 AV engines"). For example, from the above bulleted artifacts that make up the illustrated constellation, the following values might be applied:
- Required - +1
- Not required - +1, if present
- +1 for each of the values, depending upon the value data
- +1 for each event record
A notional example constellation description based on something similar to Yara might then look something like the following:
$str1 = UserAssist entry for Defender Control
$str2 = Prefetch file for Defender Control
$str3 = Windows Defender DisableAntiSpyware value = 1
$str4 = Windows Defender event ID 5010 generated
$str5 = Windows Defender DisableRealtimeMonitoring value = 1
$str6 = Windows Defender event ID 5001 generated
$str1 or $str2 and ($str3 and $str4 and $str5 and $str6);
Again, temporal proximity/dispersion would need to be addressed (most likely within the scanning engine itself), either with an automatic 'value' set, or by providing a user-defined value within the rule metadata. Additionally, the order of the individual artifacts would be important, as well. You wouldn't want to run this rule and in the output find that $str1 was found 8 days after the conditions for $str3 and $str5 being met. Given that the five-field TLN format includes a time stamp as its first field, it would be pretty trivial to compute a temporal "Hamming distance", of sorts, a well as ensure proper sequencing of the artifacts or toolmarks themselves. That is to say that $str1 should appear prior to $str3, rather than after it, but not so far so as to be unreasonable and create a false positive detection.
Finally, similar to Yara rules, the rule name would be identified in the output, along with a "confidence rating" of 6/6 for a Windows 10 system (assuming all artifacts in the cluster were available), or 5/6 for Windows Server 2019.
Something else that we need to account for when addressing artifact constellations is counter-forensics, even that which is unintentional, such as the passage of time. Specifically, how do we deal with identifying artifact constellations when artifacts have been removed, such as application prefetching being disabled on Windows 10 (which itself may be part of a different artifact constellation), or files being deleted, or something like CCleaner being run?
Maybe a better question is, do we even need to address this circumstance? After all, the intention here is not to address every possible eventuality or possible circumstance, and we can create artifact constellations for various Windows functionality being disabled (or enabled).
Now here is one of the best easter eggs we’ve ever seen in a game. In case you didn’t know, Dambuster Studios added an HD remaster of TimeSplitters 2 in Homefront: The Revolution. And below you can find a guide via which you can play all of its levels on PC. Now what’s really cool … Continue reading Here is how you can play TimeSplitters 2 HD on PC via Homefront: The Revolution →
The post Here is how you can play TimeSplitters 2 HD on PC via Homefront: The Revolution appeared first on DSOGaming.
Finally, Free Radical's cult classic, TimeSplitters 2, is available in remastered form on PC - inside Homefront: The Revolution. 2016's Homefront sequel has always had an arcade machine that let you play the first two levels of TimeSplitters 2 inside, but a developer recently revealed that the entire game was there all along, hidden behind an unlock code that had been lost to time. Now, just a few days later, players have figured out how to get access to the full game.
According to developer Matt Phillips, who implemented the TimeSplitters 2 port, the full game was meant to be unlockable through some good, old-fashioned cheat codes. "The unlock code has been lost to time," Phillips says. "I don't have the notebook with it in anymore. I once gave it to a friend to leak in some Discord channel and they called him a liar and banned his account."
With that in mind, the community immediately started working to find the code - and did so in a matter of days. The full list of codes to unlock the various TimeSplitters 2 modes are available here, and Steam community guides have even provided save files to minimise the amount of time you need to spend playing Homefront: The Revolution.
Pets and gardens don’t always get along. If you have both, it’s important to keep them out of each other’s business so everyone stays happy and healthy.