Tech round-up for September 18: Tech monopoly question, 2019 Dyson Award winners, Yahoo class action settlement, Borderlands 3 a solid sequel

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, why you should be playing Borderlands 3. Plus, a settlement has been proposed for class action lawsuits against Yahoo in the U.S. and the Canadian winners of the James Dyson Award. But first, the U.S. continues investigating the big tech companies for possible antitrust violations.

U.S. government asks tech big four for documents

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have been asked to provide internal documents to the subcommittee on antitrust for the U.S. Congress House Judiciary Committee.

The tech companies have until October 14 to provide information about operations. Associated Press reported last week that the internal communications of executives has also been requested.

What the subcommittee is wanting to establish is whether the four companies are using their market position in ways that prevent competition and exploit consumers.

Canadian winner of James Dyson Award announced

Every year, the James Dyson Award is given to student inventors who are solving problems. The Canadian winner and runners up for 2019 have just been announced.

A team of four from the University of Toronto wins $3,000 to continue developing what they call a “wearable hot water bottle”.

Undu was designed to help with menstrual cramps. Charlie Katrycz, Robin Linton, Katherine Porter, and Graham McLaughlin came up with a thin, reusable heat pack that is comfortable and worn within special underwear that has a lining to hold the heat pack.

The two runners up are:

  • interpretAR, an app that translates speech into American Sign Language in real time and then displays the signs in augmented reality (McMaster).
  • Aeroflux contactless brake, a braking system for aircraft that uses magnetic fields to stop the wheels (U of T).

The three inventions will now be considered for the international shortlist, 20 innovations chosen from around the world by a panel of Dyson engineers.

Settlement proposed by Yahoo to wrap up security breach class action lawsuits in U.S.

Yahoo had a terrible time between 2012 and 2016. In each of those years, the company was subject to major security breaches. In 2013, for example, hackers got the records for every Yahoo account worldwide. Three billion users had their names, email addresses, birthdates, passwords, and security questions and answers stolen.

Last week, a settlement in a class action lawsuit against Yahoo was proposed for citizens in the U.S. and Israel.

According to the settlement website it will provide defendants with:

  • a minimum of two years of Credit Monitoring Services to protect Settlement Class Members from future harm, or Alternative Compensation instead of credit monitoring for Class Members who already have Credit Monitoring Services (subject to verification and documentation)
  • Out-of-Pocket Costs for losses related to the Data Breaches
  • Reimbursement of some costs for those who paid for Yahoo premium or small business services

The settlement is supported by a $117,500,000 fund that Yahoo will create.

Borderlands 3 a solid sequel that turns gamers into Vault Hunters

Mayhem indeed.

It’s the promise of Borderlands 3, developed by Gearbox and published by 2K and now available for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One. And while your enjoyment of the game will depend on your appreciation for shooters and your exact definition of mayhem, it’s safe to say that Borderlands 3 has its share of bedlam.

In terms of story, the game kind of picks up where Borderlands 2 left off. I say kind of because the end of the main Borderlands 2 mission ended with the Crimson Raiders, a resistance force that includes players’ vault hunters, in possession of a map.

A couple of months ago, a final chapter of Borderlands 2 was released as downloadable content. In “The Fight for Sanctuary,” the Crimson Raiders actually (spoiler alert) lose the map. Borderlands 3 begins with you trying to recover it.

The Calypso Twins are the wise-cracking villains here, portrayed as millennial video streamers. The Twins are more annoying and insufferable than the malevolent and cruel (but hilarious) Handsome Jack of the previous game. Depending on your age, this may make them even more worthy of punishment. To me, the Calypso Twins are insufferable.

You can play as one of four Vault Hunters, each with their own unique combat styles and equipment. It’s significant that two of the characters, Moze and Amara, are female (Amara is portrayed as South Asian). The skill trees are much more complex than before, providing you with numerous ways to integrate the abilities into your play style.

As with previous Borderlands games, part of the fun is in opening boxes to collect loot, endlessly searching for the best weapons and deciding which ones to use, and learning how to strategically use them in tandem.

In addition to the campaign activities there are side missions to take on. Some of them are repetitive and banal, but they illuminate the world and the characters a bit, providing a bit more flavour to the experience.

My major complaint with the game is in how Gearbox has chosen to display the map that you use to view and navigate the worlds. For some reason, it rotates every time you go into that interface which makes it impossible to orient yourself. There’s a reason that mapmakers lock “north” to the top of the damn page, people.

I’m a confessed fan of the first two Borderlands games. I’m very happy that Borderlands 3 has been released, because for the next few weeks, that’s what I’ll be doing.

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