Learn How To Play Multiplayer In 'Mass Effect: Andromeda'

Whereas recent videos on Mass Effect: Andromeda were focused on the single-player campaign, the latest footage shows off its multiplayer side. With a team of four players, you’ll fight multiple waves of enemies before extracting and earning rewards.

Before you hop into the fight, you’ll need to choose your character. There are over 25 characters to choose from in the roster, and each one has a different set of skills. From there, you’ll have to choose your weapons. As you progress through the game, you can spend the credits earned from each session to buy mods and upgrades. You can also purchase boosters for an even higher advantage in combat. These boosts range from specialized ammunition, such as cryo ammo, to a temporary increase in the amount of experience points gained.

In combat, teamwork is vital to success. Depending on the skills and weapons that each player uses, you’ll have to communicate and coordinate attacks to stay alive. It’s easy to take out the smaller foes by yourself, but some waves will feature larger enemies or multiple objectives that requires everyone to be on the same page, so to speak.

When your team completes a full session, the experience points and credits earned by each player in the mission are combined for a cumulative total. With experience points, you can upgrade your character to improve or unlock skills and abilities. In addition to mods and boosters, you can use credits to unlock more characters or weapons to use.

The online component has a tie-in to the single-player campaign in the form of strike missions. From your ship, you can order these missions, which can be carried by your Apex strike team in the campaign or by your team in multiplayer. In both cases, completing the missions will earn you rewards that you can use in the main story.


At launch, five Firebases, or maps, will be available for multiplayer. There are also 40 weapons to choose from for your loadout. In the months following release, you can expect more items and maps in the form of downloadable content. For more information about the game’s multiplayer, you can read our impressions from the short demo we played last weekend at PAX East.

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StarTech Dual-Bay SATA Hard Drive Adapter Enclosure with RAID review: Great for hard drives, not for SSDs

Talk about clever. StarTech’s 35SAT225S3R (available for $60 on Amazon) looks just like a 3.5-inch hard drive, but is actually a two-bay RAID enclosure for 2.5-inch drives. Those drives can be linked to form a single “Big Disk,” striped in RAID 0 for better performance, mirrored in RAID 1 for data redundancy, or treated like JBOD (just a bunch of disks), i.e. multiple volumes.

Subterfuge and camouflage are two words I rarely get to use in storage reviews, but that’s what came to mind when considering the prospect of hiding valuable SSDs in a less desirable guise? I was also hopeful the enclosure could goose the performance of cheaper, slow SSDs like the OCZ TL100. Sadly, configurations issues and disappointing numbers put an end to both those ideas. Deep sigh. Maybe the next iteration.

So there’s a reason StarTech calls the 35SAT225S3R a hard drive enclosure—and in this respect it excels. It makes it easy to harness those extra 3.5-inch drive bays you’re probably not using anymore, and drastically improves the performance of your slowish 2.5-inch hard drives when combined in striped RAID 0. And we like 2.5-inch hard drives, which, designed for laptop use, have caused us fewer self-imposed problems over the years. They also produce less heat and are quieter. Generally speaking.

Design

We’ve already told you most of what you need to know about the 35SAT225S3R—it looks like a 3.5-inch hard drive, yet handles two drives. But the simplicity of installing the drives also bears mentioning. All you need to do is slide the catch on the outside of the door at the front of the drive; pop open said door; slide in two drives; push the door back into place with minimal force, and slide the catch to lock. Nice design. We like nice design.

35sat225s3r.g larger Apricorn

A low-pressure mechanism worked by the swing out cover/door makes it super easy to install drives in the 35SAT225S3R.

The other end of the unit is home to the SATA data and power connectors, as well as the four-way slide switch for changing the RAID modes. The unit is well-ventilated and slides right into any 3.5-inch bay to be affixed with screws.

35sat225s3r.e wide StarTech

The SATA connectors and RAID switch on the business end of the 35SAT225S3R  enclosure.

Configuration and performance

With a pair of 500GB Seagate Momentus 5400.6 2.5-inch hard drives, everything was hunky-dory. We could put the 35SAT225S3R into any of the four modes without hassle. Sustained throughput took a decided turn for the better as you can see below. Good stuff.

hard drive raid cdm PCWorld

Sustained throughput with 2.5-inch hard drives almost doubled in RAID 0.

Yes, the 35SAT225S3R is a great hard drive enclosure, but as I mentioned up front, the idea of using it with SSDs was too tempting. Sadly, switching to a pair of 240GB OCZ TL100 SSDs proved problematic. In our first attempt in RAID 1, the unit kept showing up as a 100MB volume.

startech raid issue PCWorld

We saw this far too often when trying to use SSDs in the StarTech 2.5-inch RAID adapter.

Finally, after switching to RAID 0 and pre-partitioning both SSDs as a single NTFS volume, the drive showed up as a GPT protected partition. Alas, Windows Disk Manager would not allow us to perform any operations on it. A quick trip to the command-line utility Diskpart allowed us to delete the partition and finally create a functional 480GB RAID 0 volume.

Facebook admits flaw in image moderation after BBC report

A Facebook executive has admitted to MPs its moderating process “was not working” following a BBC investigation.

BBC News reported 100 posts featuring sexualised images and comments about children, but 82 were deemed not to “breach community standards”.

Facebook UK director Simon Milner told MPs the problem was now fixed.

He was speaking to the Commons Home Affairs committee alongside bosses from Twitter and Google as part of an investigation into online hate crime.

The BBC investigation reported dozens of posts through the website tool, including images from groups where users were discussing swapping what appeared to be child abuse material.

When journalists went back to Facebook with the images that had not been taken down, the company reported them to the police and cancelled an interview, saying in a statement: “It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation.”

On Tuesday, Mr Milner, who is the firm’s head of policy, told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee the reports had exposed a flaw in its content moderation process.

“We welcome when a journalist or a safety organisation contacts us and says we think there is something going wrong on your platform,” he said.

“We welcome that because we know that we do not always get it right.”

The executive said there had been an issue in connecting images with comments written alongside them, but they had “now fixed that problem.”

The content flagged up by the BBC had since been addressed, reviewed and taken off Facebook, he said.

‘Money out of hate’

Labour MP Chuka Umunna focused his questioning on Google-owned YouTube, which he accused of making money from “videos peddling hate” on its platform.

A recent investigation by the Times found adverts were appearing alongside content from supporters of extremist groups, making them around £6 per 1,000 viewers, as well as making money for the company.

Mr Umunna said: “Your operating profit in 2016 was $30.4bn.

“Now, there are not many business activities that somebody openly would have to come and admit… that they are making money and people who use their platform are making money out of hate.

“You, as an outfit, are not working nearly hard enough to deal with this.”

Peter Barron, vice president of communications and public affairs at Google Europe, told the committee the cash made from the videos in question was “very small amounts”, but added that the firm was “working very hard in this area” to stop it happening again.

Yvette Cooper, who is chairwoman of the committee, turned her attention to Twitter.

The shadow home secretary said she had personally reported a user who had tweeted a “series of racist, vile and violent attacks” against political figures such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, but the user had not been removed.

Nick Pickles, head of public policy and government for Twitter in the UK, said the company acknowledged it was “not doing a good enough job” at responding to reports from users.

“We don’t communicate with the users enough when they report something, we don’t keep people updated enough and we don’t communicate back enough when we do take action,” he said.

“I am sorry to hear those reports had not been looked at. We would have expected them to have been looked at certainly by the end of today, particularly for violent threats.”

When the BBC checked the account after the committee session, it had been suspended.

‘Terrible reputation’

Ms Cooper said she found none of the responses from the executives to her questions “particularly convincing”.

She added: “We understand the challenges that you face and technology changes very fast, but you all have millions of users in the United Kingdom and you make billions of pounds from these users, [yet] you all have a terrible reputation among users for dealing swiftly with content even against your own community standards.

“Surely when you manage to have such a good reputation with advertisers for targeting content and for doing all kinds of sophisticated things with your platforms, you should be able to do a better job in order to be able to keep your users safe online and deal with this type of hate speech.”

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Signal's Encrypted Video Calling For iOS, Android Leave Beta

Open Whisper Systems announced that end-to-end encrypted video calls are now available for its Signal communications app on Android and iOS.

The organization started to beta test encrypted video calls in February. Now, less than a month later, the feature appears to be ready for prime time. Open Whisper Systems also said the update will improve Signal call quality, offer the option of using peer-to-peer connections to reduce call latency, and make it so iOS users can answer Signal calls right from their lock screens without having their contacts’ identities synced to Apple’s iCloud service.

By addressing two concerns, Open Whisper Systems was careful to note that these features shouldn’t undermine the privacy of Signal users. One is that P2P connections might reveal IP addresses and therefore general locations, and the other is that letting Signal calls be answered from the iOS lock screen will be problematic. In both cases, Signal opted to balance privacy and convenience, while also giving users the option to customize the app’s behavior.

Here’s what the nonprofit said about P2P connections in its announcement:

By default, Signal will only attempt to establish a P2P connection if you are initiating the call or if you are receiving a call from someone in your contacts. If you are receiving a call from someone not in your address book, Signal will relay that call through the Signal service.

Additionally, there is a setting which will relay all calls through the Signal service if enabled.

And what it said about supporting CallKit, the developer tool that allows communications apps to take advantage of the iPhone’s lock screen:

To balance these concerns, CallKit is enabled by default, but Signal calls are displayed as being to/from “Signal user.” This means that, by default, it’s possible to answer Signal calls with one touch directly from the lock screen, but only “Signal user” will appear in the “recent calls” list (which is what could be synced to iCloud).

It is easy to opt in to displaying the name/number of an incoming Signal call if having that information in the “recent calls” list is not an issue, or it is also possible to disable CallKit entirely if even having “Signal user” in the call log is not desirable.

These options are important, because Signal has a diverse audience. Some people use the service because they don’t like the idea of anyone snooping on their conversations. Others use it because they need to protect anonymous sources, activists, and others who could face severe repercussions if their communications were spied upon. Sharing an IP address or sending limited information to iCloud could be fine for the former and disastrous for the latter.

It’s similar to the addition of ephemeral messages to apps like Signal and Wire. The feature doesn’t actually make the services much more secure–you could just screenshot messages before they disappear, for example–but it can help you feel more comfortable. (Disappearing messages also prevent someone with physical access to a device, like an overbearing parent or abusive partner, from scrolling through someone’s history whenever they like.)

Signal is available from Google Play and the App Store

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How to get in-flight Wi-Fi

How to get in-flight Wi-Fi

Make the most of your next plane journey by connecting to the in-flight Wi-Fi – here’s our guide to getting online in the sky.

In-flight internet access is slowly improving – here’s how to keep up with your emails the next time you fly


By

These days most of us are used to getting Wi-Fi access just about everywhere we go, from coffee shops and bars to trains and even the London Underground. Still, there’s one area that’s lagged behind: planes.

Read next: How to buy cheap flights online

While you can get Wi-Fi on planes more and more often these days, it’s still not supported by every airline, and when it is it’s often slow, unreliable, and expensive. We’re going to run down the basics of how in-flight Wi-Fi works, how to connect to it, and how to get in-flight Wi-Fi cheaper or even for free.

How does in-flight Wi-Fi work?

There are two basic methods that airlines use to get internet access at 35,000 feet. The first uses a network of ground-based mobile broadband towers which send signals up into the air. The plane then picks this up using an antenna mounted onto the underside of its fuselage.

As you travel the plane picks up signal from the closest tower, hopefully giving you unbroken internet access – though obviously that depends on how comprehensive the tower network is. It also means that web access tends to drop any time you hit a big body of water – an ocean, say – where it’s a little trickier to build network towers.

That’s one of the big advantages of the other method, which sees the planes pick up signal from orbiting satellites, which in turn send and receive signals from Earth. In addition to better coverage, satellites tend to be able to offer faster speeds, but at a cost – a literal cost, that is, because satellites are really expensive to build, maintain, and upgrade – which also means speeds aren’t likely to improve as quickly.

How do I connect to in-flight Wi-Fi?

Unfortunately, the short answer is: it depends. Not every airline offers in-flight Wi-Fi, and the ones that do use a variety of providers with a variety of different connection methods.

Generally speaking, you can expect your airline to advertise their Wi-Fi services either in a flyer or in the in-flight magazine, and that will likely come with connection instructions. Normally it will involve turning your device’s Wi-Fi on (once the cabin crew say you can switch flight mode off, that is) and looking for a Wi-Fi network carrying their branding. Odds are that once you’re 35,000 feet up it’ll be the only network – unless some of your fellow passengers are running hotspots – so it should be easy to find.

Read next: Best travel gadgets

Depending on the airline, connecting will likely require you to create an account, and usually pay a fee – either per hour or for the flight as a whole. Once you’ve paid you should be able to connect and browse freely.

Bear in mind the limitations though. Your connection speed will likely be very slow (some flights have as little as 3Mbps for the whole plane to share), and as a result most airlines will block you from streaming video, and potentially even audio. It’s best to plan around only being able to browse the web and check emails, not entertain yourself with Spotify or Netflix, though you may get lucky.

How can I get cheap or free in-flight Wi-Fi?

If you’ve ever been overjoyed to discover that your flight boasted Wi-Fi, only to sink down into depression when you realised that connecting to it would probably cost almost as much as your plane ticket, you know that Wi-Fi on a plane can be pretty pricy. Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about it, but there are a few tricks that may help ease the cost.

First up, check if your airline happens to offer Wi-Fi for free in the first place. At the time of writing, all of the following airlines offer some sort of free connection, though some limit free access by either time or data:

  • Emirates
  • JetBlue
  • Norwegian
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Air China
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Hong Kong Airlines
  • Nok Air

If the airline you’re flying with does charge for Wi-Fi access, you might be able to save money by booking it in advance. Some airlines allow you to pre-purchase Wi-Fi access when you book your tickets, and you can also often buy access online in advance otherwise, at a discounted rate. Again, check with your specific airline to find out what your options are.

Read next: Best travel apps

Finally, there are a couple of tricks you can take advantage of to try and circumvent some airlines’ pricing structures. Since these involve either taking advantage of loopholes or outright tricking the airline’s systems, we can’t recommend them, and haven’t tested them, but they are reported to work in certain cases.

First up, some airlines offer different pricing structures depending on the device you’re connecting with – charging more for laptops than for mobile devices on the basis that they’re likely to use up more bandwidth. However, there are extensions that you can use for Chrome and Firefox that will spoof your browser user agent, so that you can make your laptop appear to be a mobile phone, and thus connect at the lower rate – sometimes as little as half as much.

The other workaround is a bit more specific. It only works with airlines that use GoGo, the in-flight Wi-Fi provider used by most major US airlines, and some others internationally. It also only works for iPhones, so you’re out of luck if you have an Android phone or PC.

To take advantage, you connect to the GoGo Wi-Fi network, and then browse to the GoGo built-in Movie Library. Select a free film and try to watch it, which will prompt you to install the GoGo app, and take you through to the App Store within Safari. Don’t download the app, but instead use the same browser window to start browsing the web freely.

Essentially, GoGo gives you a limited internet connection in order to download its app, but you can use this connection to browse the web elsewhere. As we said, we can’t condone or recommend taking advantage of this sort of loophole, and haven’t tested it ourselves, but it is one way to potentially get free in-flight Wi-Fi.

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Logitech ZeroTouch review: This Android smartphone holder puts Amazon's Alexa in your car

Logitech’s ZeroTouch smartphone holder has been on the market for almost a year, but I’ve ignored it because my beat doesn’t include mobile devices. That changed about a month ago when Logitech integrated Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service into its ZeroTouch app. Now I can use voice commands to control my smart home while I’m in the car and my smartphone is connected to the ZeroTouch.

I’ve encountered a few bumps in the road during my month-long review (pun intended), but I’ve concluded that the air-vent version of this holder fully justifies its lofty $60 price tag (simpler phone holders cost about 10 bucks.)  The dashboard version has all the same features, but I’m not as enamored with it because it must be glued to your dashboard and it costs $80. Apple iPhone users, meanwhile, might want to stop reading now: the ZeroTouch is an Android-only device for the time being.

The hiccups I encountered turned out to be not the fault of the product, but there is one other limitation (beyond being Android-only) that you’ll want to know about right up front. It’s not a bug, as the saying goes, it’s a feature: If you want the ZeroTouch’s (and Alexa’s) voice responses played through your car’s speakers, you’ll need to set your head unit to operate in media mode. That’s an Android requirement, but it makes it nearly impossible to listen to terrestrial radio on the head unit and interact with the ZeroTouch—or Alexa—at the same time.

Logitech ZeroTouch text message Michael Brown

Icons and text are prominently displayed, but you almost never need to look at the phone because a voice reads everything to you.

Fortunately, this doesn’t impact using Bluetooth to make and receive calls via your head unit. I’m accustomed to listening to NPR news broadcasts when I’m in the car, however, so I tried using the ZeroTouch independently of the head unit for a while. I don’t recommend it because it’s too distracting: The head unit’s radio will cut out when your phone rings, so you can answer the call, but it won’t do that for the ZeroTouch’s voice prompts. Those are played on the phone’s speaker while the head unit is playing the radio. I found myself constantly reaching for the head unit’s volume control either because the ZeroTouch was alerting me to an incoming message or because I wanted to use the ZeroTouch.

If you want to listen to music on your car stereo, it’s far better to pair the ZeroTouch with your head unit and stream music from your phone over Bluetooth. The ZeroTouch supports Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, or Google Play Music. To do that, however, your car’s Bluetooth system must be capable of supporting both phone calls and media streaming. That wasn’t an issue with the new Kenwood KMM-BT515HD head unit I recently installed in my truck, but the Bluetooth in my 2010 VW Golf only allowed me to make and receive phone calls. The only way I could stream media and hear the ZeroTouch’s voice prompts on my phone in the car was to physically connect the phone’s headphone jack to the car’s aux input.

I’ll dive deeper into this and the ZeroTouch’s other features later; for now, I want to focus on Logitech’s Alexa integration.

Logitech ZeroTouch dashboard Michael Brown

This model of the Logitech ZeroTouch is designed to be glued to your dashboard. Make sure it doesn’t obstruct your view through the windshield, or you could be ticketed in some jurisdictions. (It’s obviously not permanently mounted in this photo.)

Alexa and the ZeroTouch

In my home, I have several Amazon Echo devices connected to a Vivint smart home system that monitors my home’s security and controls nearly all its interior and exterior lighting, entry locks, thermostat, garage-door opener, and security cameras. I almost never reach out for a light switch, adjust the temperature at the thermostat, or even touch the Vivint Sky control panel (other than to disarm the system in the morning). Instead I tell Alexa to turn lights on and off, adjust the temperature, lock an exterior door, or arm the alarm system.

Logitech ZeroTouch Logitech

Logitech’s ZeroTouch automobile smartphone mount has a battery-powered Bluetooth radio onboard. This model attaches to one of your car’s air vents.

Before the ZeroTouch, I had to pull out my phone and launch the Vivint app if I needed to do any of those things from the car. And with 25 devices just for lighting control, it took a lot of scrolling to find the one I wanted to use. Now I just dock my phone to the ZeroTouch, briefly put my hand in front of its proximity detector (Logitech calls this gesture a “high five”), and summon Alexa.