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Every free PS4 game you can download in July

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  • Sony has announced the free PS4 games that it will be giving away in July.
  • PlayStation Plus subscribers will have a chance to download NBA 2K20, Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, and Erica for free from Tuesday, July 7th through Monday, August 3rd.
  • Normal prices: NBA 2K20 ($59.99), Rise of the Tomb Raider ($29.99), Erica ($9.99).

Ten years ago today, Sony launched the PlayStation Plus subscription service on the PS3 to compete with Xbox Live. Two years later, Sony began giving away free games to paid subscribers every month, and now, eight years on, Sony has given away over 1,000 games. In celebration of the service’s tenth anniversary, Sony is giving away three games in July instead of two, and there will also be a free PS4 theme given away later this week.

Here’s the complete lineup of free PlayStation 4 games available to PS Plus subscribers in July:

  • NBA 2K20 (ERP $59.99): Available July 7th – August 3rd
    • NBA 2K has evolved into much more than a basketball simulation. 2K continues to redefine what’s possible in sports gaming with NBA 2K20, featuring best in class graphics & gameplay, ground breaking game modes, and unparalleled player control and customization. Plus, with its immersive open-world Neighborhood, NBA 2K20 is a platform for gamers and ballers to come together and create what’s next in basketball culture.

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration (ERP $29.99): Available July 7th – August 3rd
    • In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft becomes more than a survivor as she embarks on her first Tomb Raiding expedition to the most treacherous and remote regions of Siberia. Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is PS4 Pro Enhanced and offers three modes to customize your gaming experience: 4K Resolution for unprecedented fidelity, High Framerate for even smoother gameplay, or Enriched Visuals for the lushest and most realistic graphics possible.

  • Erica (ERP $9.99): Available July 7th – August 3rd
    • Immerse yourself in an interactive live-action thriller which puts you at the heart of the mystery. Delve into Erica’s past as you piece together the shocking truth behind her father’s death. Face the consequences of your actions as you influence how the narrative unfolds and arrive at multiple alternative endings. Reach into the world by interacting with clues using your DualShock 4 wireless controller or the Erica app for iOS and Android.

Every game listed above will be free to download starting on Tuesday, July 7th. As always, you will need to have an active subscription to PlayStation Plus in order to download them for free. You will also need to either keep paying for or restart your subscription in order to keep them, even if you downloaded them for free. And don’t forget — all of the free games from June are still available until the new Instant Game Collection arrives next week.



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Guest Mode vs. Incognito Mode in Google Chrome: What’s the Difference?

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What you do online is personal, which is why Google Chrome offers a couple of ways to keep your browsing private. The two main options are incognito mode and guest mode, but how are these different?

Let’s take a quick look at guest mode vs. incognito mode in Chrome, including what they do and when you should use each one.

What Is Incognito Mode in Chrome?

Incognito mode, known as private browsing in some other browsers, has been around for years. While incognito, you can browse the web without Chrome saving any information about the session. When you close an incognito window, all the information on that session disappears.

This means that Chrome won’t save any browsing history, cookies, or form data created in the incognito window. It also blocks the functionality to reopen closed tabs with Ctrl + Shift + T and disables extensions (unless you enable them manually).

Starting an incognito session essentially opens up a new browser window that’s never seen the internet before. Because there are no cookies, you aren’t logged into any sites and none of them are personalized for you.

Chrome Incognito Window

This mode has lots of uses, such as:

  • Signing into one of your accounts on a friend’s PC without forcing them to sign out
  • Seeing how a webpage looks to the public
  • Testing if one of your installed extensions is breaking a website
  • Bypassing page view limits

While it’s incredibly useful, keep in mind that you aren’t invisible in private browsing. Websites can still identify you, and incognito doesn’t hide your browsing activity from your ISP or network administrator. You’ll need to connect to a VPN for increased privacy in those areas.

To open a new incognito window, open the three-dot menu and choose New incognito window, or press Ctrl + Shift + N.

What Is Chrome’s Guest Mode?

Guest mode is a separate function from the incognito mode. It takes advantage of Chrome’s profile switching feature to give you a blank profile for someone who’s temporarily using Chrome.

Like Incognito mode, it doesn’t save any record of the browsing history and disables all extensions. However, in Guest mode, the user also can’t see or change any Chrome settings (aside from the default search engine). A guest user can’t see any of the browsing history, bookmarks, or downloads from the main profiles.

Chrome Guest Mode

Guest mode is most useful when you’re browsing on someone else’s computer, letting someone use yours, or working on a public machine.

To launch a new guest window, click the profile switcher in the top-right of Chrome, which shows your current profile picture. Click Guest under Other People to start a new guest session.

The Differences Between Incognito and Guest Mode

As we’ve seen, the incognito and guest modes in Chrome are pretty similar. But the guest mode isn’t exactly the same as incognito, so when should you use them?

Both are suitable when you want to erase all traces of your browsing as soon as you close the window. However, incognito is primarily intended for you to use on your own computer, while the guest mode is meant for using a computer that’s not yours.

Thus, incognito mode allows the primary Chrome user to browse without recording history, while guest mode lets someone else use the browser without access to the primary user’s information. Both prevent any information about the session from being saved.

If this has you interested in making your browser more private, check out essential Chrome privacy settings you should know.

Image Credit: Jane Kelly/Shutterstock

Read the full article: Guest Mode vs. Incognito Mode in Google Chrome: What’s the Difference?



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Microsoft’s solution to Zoom fatigue is to trick your brain

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There’s a certain routine to logging on to the now-ubiquitous videoconference: join a screen of Brady Bunch–like squares, ping-ponging your gaze between speakers but mostly staring self-consciously at your own face. What started as a novelty of working at home is now an exhausting ordeal that can leave us feeling mentally wiped out. 

Microsoft thinks it’s got a solution. On Wednesday it launched “Together Mode” for its Teams business software, as part of a new suite of updates. The videoconferencing tool uses artificial intelligence to take a cutout of your live video image and place it into a fixed position within a setting. In a demo I participated in, it was a seat in a virtual auditorium, not unlike those found in lecture halls. The idea is that when you can see people in a fixed position, nonverbal cues like looking at or pointing at a speaker become clearer and more like what would happen a natural in-person meeting. 

Microsoft is playing catch-up in the lucrative videoconferencing arena. It has been outflanked during the pandemic-fueled remote-work boom by Zoom, which has become the envy of Silicon Valley, a cultural phenomenon, and a verb practically overnight. 

Microsoft thinks its Teams platform and Together Mode can match Zoom’s reach. It’s got the benefit of a key demographic in its grip: students and educators. Microsoft said 183,000 educational institutions in 175 countries were using Teams, with about 150 million students and faculty actively using Microsoft Education products as a hub for remote learning.

But we’re increasingly fed up with video calls. Months of videoconferencing—not just for work and school, but for dating, happy hours, holiday gatherings, appointments, and chats with loved ones—have led to “Zoom fatigue.” Why is this the case? Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communication at Stanford University who consulted on Together Mode, says that the faces presented on a typical videoconferencing grid reflect the dimensions of a person standing about two feet from you.

“Very rarely are you standing two feet away from a person and staring at them for an hour like that, unless you’re getting in conflict or about to mate,” he says. “When you have faces staring at you like this, the arousal response kicks in, that fight-or-flight mode. If you’re in fight-or-flight mode all day, it’s taxing to do these meetings.”

Microsoft hopes Together Mode will make videoconferencing feel less taxing. In Zoom’s gallery mode, for example, it can be hard to figure out who is speaking and who wants to speak. Together Mode solves this, in theory, by putting a participant in the same seat on everyone’s screen. That means if a person pipes up in the upper right hand corner of the virtual room, everyone’s gaze moves at about the same time to focus on that person; if someone interrupts from the middle, heads and eyes shift in that direction. In internal tests, Microsoft claims, users felt less fatigued and more focused in Together Mode.

But whether Together Mode encourages quieter or often ignored members of a team to speak up is yet to be seen. Despite the promise of a more democratic virtual platform, women have had a more difficult time making their voices heard. Teams, Meet, and Zoom have all incorporated a hand-raising function to help, and guides for supporting female colleagues in this setting have become increasingly common.

“I think Together Mode gives people the tools to do better, but it doesn’t guarantee people will be better,” says Jaron Lanier, a research scientist at Microsoft who’s considered a world expert in mixed reality.

Another nagging issue is, well, your face. In a demo, I found myself trying to adjust my seating so that I would not appear too big or too small, something Lanier claims is helpful in democratizing participation. But it meant I often lost track of the discussion as I self-consciously corrected my posture. And perhaps self-consciousness is the root of the problem to begin with.

“The ideal technology would let you disappear so you would stop being aware of yourself,” says Amber Davisson, an associate professor of communication at Keene State College. Davisson, who researches the intersection of intimacy, communication, and technology, says the way videoconferencing tries to emulate meetings contrasts with how humans normally interact.

“When I’m sitting in my class and teaching, I’m not looking at myself,” she says. “[Videoconferencing] is anxiety-causing and we can never relax; we’re way too aware of ourselves. The best technology would eliminate your face so you can look at everyone and they can look at you, and you don’t see yourself.”

One thing Davisson says is working in Together Mode’s favor is the non-personal background and predictable seating layout. Personalized Zoom backgrounds can be fun, but Davisson says having an agreed-upon, bland background like the ones offered by Together Mode eliminates the brain’s confusion of personal and professional.

That concept—of delineating work and home as the two spaces coalesce—is ultimately the challenge of videoconferencing during a pandemic. We need a safe place to fall apart, “and we used to think that was home,” she says. “But we do work and school in our homes now. Our only private space has been invaded, and it’s a lot for our brains to compute.”



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The Simplest TS100 Upgrade Leads Down A Cable Testing Rabbit Hole

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By now, I must have had my Miniware TS100 soldering iron for nearly three years. It redefined what could be expected from the decent end of the budget soldering iron spectrum when it came on the market, and it’s still the one to beat even after those years. Small, lightweight, powerful, and hackable, it has even spawned direct imitations.

If the TS100 has a fault, it comes not from the iron itself but from its cable. A high-grade iron will have an extra-flexible PVC or silicone cable, but the TS100 does not have a cable of its own. Instead it relies on whatever cable comes on its power supply, which is frequently a laptop unit built with portable computing rather than soldering in mind. So to use it is to be constantly battling against its noticable lack of flexibility, a minor worry but one that I find irksome. I determined to find a solution, making a DC extension cable more flexible than that on my power supply.

Unexpectedly Spawning A Product

The TS100 has a standard DC barrel jack, but surprisingly it’s rather an unusual one. It requires an extraordinarily long reach of about 15mm, and the plugs on some laptop supplies won’t mate with it satisfactorily. For my cable I would have to find the longest plug I could, and it turned out that there are surprisingly few on the market. Lumberg do one, but it tops out at too low a current rating for a soldering iron so I was rather stumped.

I approached Toby Components, my go-to supplier for connectors who have helped me secure unobtanium in the past, to see whether they had any better options. And that was where this saga took an unexpected turn. They didn’t have any off-the-shelf connectors, but they could get their cable people to make up a custom extension using an extra-flexible PVC cable. I parted with some cash, and duly received a package containing a couple of their prototypes. My build-a-cable project abruptly turned into a product test.

The first thing I did was plug it in and do some soldering, at which it was fine, and noticeably more flexible than the stock cable on my PSU. But merely saying that doesn’t give much information, I need some means of quantifying the flexibility of a cable. We can all tell by feel that one cable is more or less flexible than another. Holding it in our hands, the less flexible cable requires more force to bend it than the flexible one. Researching standard tests for cables reveals a surprise, they have a focus on safety and stress performance rather than its static physical properties, so while there are a host of fascinating tests to ensure that they don’t fail under repeated flexing or when being pinched, the standards don’t seem to include a simple measure of flexibility. It deserved some thought, so I considered and rejected measuring the droop angle of a set length of cable under its own weight, wondered whether a test rig could be set up in which a horizontal cable could have weights attached to it, and finally arrived at something much simpler.

How Do You Characterise Cable Flexibility?

My rough-and-ready minumum natural bend radius test rig.
My rough-and-ready minimum natural bend radius test rig.

If you take a piece of cable and hold it between your hands, it forms a line with 180 degree angle. Should you now bend it, it won’t form a point as it takes a narrower angle, instead it will curve and tend towards a circular outline. You’ll find there is a natural minimum bend radius it will comfortably take, at which it forms the circular outline and readily returns to straightness, yet is not bent to the extent that it kinks. So measuring the natural minimum bend radius of a cable is a straightforward and easily-reproducible test that can allow comparison of cable flexibilities.

My bend radius rig is simple enough, a flat piece of wood with another slim piece of wood held above its edge using a pair of screws. The cable is bent at 180 degrees back upon itself to form a loop of its minimum natural radius, then it is clamped between the two pieces of wood, thus the diameter can be easily measured and the radius calculated. I’ve added a piece of graph paper on top of my wooden base so that I can easily judge measurements, however I found my caliper to be the most convenient way to take them. As well as the two TS100 cables I’ve measured a few others from around my bench for comparison.

Cable Diameter Radius
Toby TS100 extension cable 20mm 10mm
TS100 laptop-style PSU cable 33mm 16.5mm
“Grundlagen Audio” gold USB cable 29mm 14.5mm
Multimeter test lead 16mm 8mm
IEC computer mains lead 48mm 24mm

It can straight away be seen that this is a readily reproducible way to characterise the flexibility of a piece of cable. At the extremes are the multimeter lead and the computer mains lead, no surprise as the former is designed to be as flexible as possible while the latter is a thick and heavy mains lead. That’s a cheap multimeter, it’s likely that had I been less miserly and bought a decent one it would have a significantly more flexible set of leads. The fake “Grundlagen Audio” USB lead from my April 1st sojourn into using GNU Radio for audio analysis meanwhile is surprisingly stiff for what was in reality a cheap Amazon Basics item. This is probably due to two factors; it has a braided outer in a bid to copy more expensive leads, and my spraying it with gold paint has only made it stiffer.

To the point of the test though, the TS100 cables. The Toby cable is under two-thirds the stiffness of the laptop-style power supply cable, which does make a significant difference to the ease of soldering. I didn’t expect to spawn a product when I asked them about connector availability, but if you’d like one they have it for sale on their website. And meanwhile, Hackaday now has another test in its armoury, measuring the bend radius whenever we take a look at a cable.



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