Review: Leica CL

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

Posted by: https://www.wired.com/review/review-leica-cl

Leica’s latest is a compact shooter with manual controls, programmable menus, and an excellent viewfinder.

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6 Steam Games Worth Checking Out [June 2015]

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

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Should You Play Final Fantasy XV's Multiplayer Expansion Comrades?

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

After getting a delay, Final Fantasy XV’s multiplayer expansion Comrades finally launched last week. The long-awaited mode is included for those who purchased Final Fantasy XV's season pass, or can be purchased separately for $19.99. For a little context, Comrades allows you to create your own avatar and be a member of the Kingsglaive, the Lucian royal family's special forces unit. The expansion covers the missing 10 years of time near the end of the main story, so I recommend you play through Final Fantasy XV before touching it. However, if you don’t care about the story, you can still enjoy this new mode. After playing close to 20 hours of Comrades, I’ve learned the ins and outs pretty well. Here are my extensive impressions, which should help you decide if Comrades is a good fit for you.

Making Your Character
Going into Comrades, I didn’t know what to expect. The beta was far from smooth, and outside of its MMORPGs, Square Enix isn’t exactly known for implementing strong multiplayer experiences. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised at how captivated I was immediately. The creation tools are extensive, letting you customize everything from your facial features and body type, to even the color of your clothes and birthplace. You can go as crazy as you want with your appearance or create an avatar in your own image. I chose the latter (as you can see above) because, as a longtime fan, there’s something about seeing yourself as a Final Fantasy character that’s exciting as hell.

Getting Down To Business
As you complete missions, you unlock money, new materials, and meteorshards to help power up the world of Eos. This is an engaging loop, as in-game money can be spent on new weapons or even new clothing and tattoos. One thing that works in Comrades' favor is the lack of microtransactions; you can’t pay your way to progress or become more powerful. You use meteorshards to open up new areas of the world and missions. Watching your impact on Eos as you supply power to even more areas to save those in peril and seeing the map expand provides a satisfying sense of progression that had me hooked.

With up to three companions (friends, strangers, or A.I.), you tackle quests types that range from escort and defense to hunt and urgent. These different objectives lend variety to the experience, although sometimes you need to repeat missions to earn enough meteorshards to unlock new ones. Thankfully, missions are on the short side and usually don't take more than 10 minutes. My favorite quests are escort and urgent. While in most video games escort missions can be a drag, these force you to protect a target on the move such as a truck, while enemies come piling on you. Urgent missions have you taking on the biggest bosses, often providing the greatest challenges. The rewards for these clashes are worthwhile, such as letting you unlock a new branching path on the map or tombs to get Royal Sigils, which allow you to add stat bonuses alongside unique abilities to your character, from enhanced healing to extra combat maneuvers. 

The Art Of The Battle
A big part of the game is collecting materials to add to your weapons, which range from maces and shurikens to shields and pole arms. All weapons have a level cap, and deciding which materials to use can be make-or-break to your success. Some materials even imbue your weapon with passive abilities, from charge boosts to an increased chance to negate damage. I had a blast experimenting with weapons; nothing makes you feel more powerful than adding a new ability or watching its power increase before your eyes. Your weapon choice can be crucial to battle and also change up your play style. Shurikens and daggers may be fast, but do less damage, while lumbering maces hit hard but leave you more vulnerable. In addition, crafting can help exploit enemy weaknesses depending on what elements you imbue in your weapons. When I fought fire bombs, I made sure to make good use of my ice shuriken. Comrades does a good job encouraging you to experiment with different weapon types and their affinities. At first, I thought a shield wouldn’t be much fun in battle, but then I realized charging with it and blindsiding foes is fun, and its protection against status ailments is a great perk. 

If you liked Final Fantasy XV's battle system, you'll feel right at home with Comrades – the expansion sticks well to what made Final Fantasy XV’s combat feel so fluid. Warp-strikes are still a big focus, and you can initiate a chain with your party members with a well-timed block in order to do devastating damage. Swapping among weapons is fun; shurikens are perfect for slashing up enemies both in long and close range, and crossbows are a great choice for those who want to stick to the sidelines and focus on avoiding an enemy's reach.

While combat is just as entertaining as I remember, I enjoy it even more when I team up with friends. Technically, you can just play through the expansion with A.I. companions, which are adequate, but you’re missing out on part of what makes the experience so fun. Battles are still flashy and energetic, but I prefer marveling with a friend at a larger-than-life boss coming our way,  then teaming up for a well-timed chain of warp-strikes to eviscerate it. Better yet? Just like Prompto’s photography skills in XV, pictures are taken during battle as a way to commemorate your achievements. (And just like Prompto’s, some are hilariously bad). 

While I loved playing Comrades with friends, the load times can get in the way of the fun. You need a lot of patience at start-up and after missions, and even loading into the different zones you open that are essential to visit for new gear and weapons is a pain. When playing with others, I didn’t experience too many connection issues; only one quest dropped my party and they were quickly placed as A.I. members so I could still finish the mission. 

So, Should You Play Comrades?
That depends. Did you like Final Fantasy XV’s combat? Do you want to revisit the world and uncover a part of the story that’s been missing? Are you just looking for some fun with your friends? Comrades provides all of these things, and it’s much better than I expected. However, the experience is far from perfect. Comrades does a poor job of explaining its mechanics to you, so expect some guesswork. Also, anticipate repeating quests just to get more shards. It feels like a slow burn in a way. I’m level 16 and I’ve invested close to 20 hours into it. Right now, the level cap is 50, which means there’s a lot to do. However, the grind to unlocking new content often feels tedious. Still, nothing can replace the fun moments I’ve had playing it with my friends and the delight we take in unlocking new things, even if it’s just cool new clothing or a minor mission. Also to its strength is its callbacks to the main story. You never know when you’ll come across a cool reference to the main game or spar against a familiar face. Despite my few frustrations, I know I’m happy with the time I’ve invested in it.  

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Virtual reality training may be as effective as regular therapy after stroke

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

Posted by: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171115175655.htm

Using virtual reality therapy to improve arm and hand movement after a stroke is equally as effective as regular therapy, according to a study.

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Prop Hunt ‘Chinese Food’ – LAN Party

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

Posted by: http://youtu.be/JTkAPMaRePs

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The reason therapy doesn’t work

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

Posted By: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/BrazenCareerist/~3/poVzBDzN7l8/

My brothers are always the first people to send an email to say I misinterpreted research that I’m linking to. (Which I accept as a love note to let me know they read my posts.) So last week when my brother sent me a link he thought I’d like, he also sent me a summary:

There are more men in STEM careers than women, which of course you already know. But the real reason we can’t solve the gender gap in STEM careers is shocking. At the time they enter into college, there are actually many more women who are qualified for STEM careers than men. However the majority of qualified women choose to do non-STEM majors in college. While the majority of men who are qualified for STEM careers choose STEM majors. So, it turns out that the researchers have found that the gap between men and women in STEM careers exists because men who are not qualified for STEM careers simply do not go to college. 

So, women and men are very similar at STEM, but men not in STEM cannot get into college. Which means the reason we can’t solve the gender gap in STEM careers is not anything people could have ever imagined.

What’s striking about this research is we’ve asked the wrong question. We have been asking why aren’t women going into STEM, but the truth is women don’t want to go into STEM. They go into fields they like.

This is a very similar issue to the question of why aren’t there more women leading companies. In both cases, we assume that men and women want the same thing, and some nefarious forces make women not as successful in male-dominated fields. In fact, women are in control of their lives and they are making choices they want.

So the real question should be why do we celebrate choices men typically make and castigate choices typical of women?

Anyway, most of the problems we wrestle with are problems we don’t understand. And this is why I think therapy doesn’t work.

For example, for the last year I have been decorating my new apartment obsessively. I’ve been through three sofas and six colors with Maria Killam because I can’t bear to pick any paint color without her. She is so famous now that I don’t even know if you can talk to her directly any more. But I have known her long enough to send texts like, “Please call me right away. It’s an emergency. I only have one hour to pick a new paint color for my living room or I will literally die.”

My therapist tells me that OCD is not just doing things, it’s also thinking things. I tell my therapist I think I am OCD about decorating. Like I missed an appointment with said therapist because I couldn’t stop looking for a chandelier that would look good against Palladian Blue

We get nowhere in therapy. And the next week I’m onto a different topic because who cares if it’s OCD because I’m still going to use grocery money to buy picture frames. And anyway we have to talk about why I keep forgetting my appointment time. “Is there something that is scaring you about coming here?” he asks.

Why do I need a therapist to ask me the most obvious question in the whole world? I have been to enough therapy that I can ask that question myself. That’s the whole point – the therapist asks you the same types of questions week after week until you internalize the therapist’s voice and ask the questions yourself.

As a person who coaches with no training or certification or whatever, I can ask non-standard questions: Are you gay? Why are you not making more money? What is the point of living there? How much money does your spouse make? When do you think you’ll have time to take care of kids?

I don’t feel limited to getting the answers from the person I’m coaching. I don’t need to say, What is keeping you from getting a promotion? I can just go straight to I can tell your boss hates you.

The result is that at the end of the one-hour session every person says some version of, “I never imagined that this is what we would talk about, but I really appreciate it.”

People don’t know what they need help with. I didn’t realize this until I started coaching people regularly. And recently I realized it’s me, too. I go to therapy every week and have no idea how to prioritize my problems. After all, if I could see them, I could probably deal with them, too. 

Lauren came to visit for three days. She’s my only friend who is a life coach. I used to have a lot of friends who are investors. And when we had lunch I was never sure if I was hanging out with them or pitching them for my next round of funding.  That’s how I feel spending time with Lauren – I never know if we are being friends or if she is being my coach.

But this time I knew: I told her I’m having a really difficult time keeping to a schedule. I wrote our schedules down — each of the boys and mine as well. We have every minute of every single day scheduled and still I mess it up.

I told her things change too much. Or I have dyslexia for numbers. Or I worry too much. Or the boys don’t watch the clock. Everything. Everything is wrong.

I tell Lauren this while we walk to the place where my younger son practices piano. But we are late.

Because I was on the phone with Melissa.

I ask Lauren what’s wrong.

“Each time we’re late it’s because you let your emotions build up until it’s unbearable. You were so upset with Melissa you had to stop everything to call her.”

She’s right. It’s so clear when she says it but I couldn’t see it. I can list a lot of problems I have, but I wouldn’t have listed that there’s no time to be me. 

Part of me hates writing this because it’s so cliched that a working mother of two kids is not making time in the schedule for herself. I hate being so obvious. But what I really hate is not knowing what questions to ask. My life is the STEM gap and the CEO gap and all the other gaps between the questions we ask and the real trouble that we face.

I want to make my learning cycle faster by asking better questions. But I think I’ve hit a wall. And now I see why so many people are in therapy for years and yet they’re getting nothing done: Therapy only works when we know the questions to bring to the therapist. When we bring ancillary issues to the therapist then we spend all our therapy time on ancillary issues. The best coaching comes from someone who sidesteps the issues we present to them and goes after the issues that matter.

So now I know why I’m frustrated with therapy: each week we can only talk about the problems I can see. The help each of us needs is to talk about the things we don’t see.

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Twitch: We're almost ready to go full-blown Hunger Games

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

Co-founder Kevin Lin is excited about a new age of games development where streaming audiences can interact with the players.

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A major grant from the Open Philanthropy Project

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

Posted by: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/miriblog/~3/RzRnNk3whNI/

I’m thrilled to announce that the Open Philanthropy Project has awarded MIRI a three-year $3.75 million general support grant ($1.25 million per year). This grant is, by far, the largest contribution MIRI has received to date, and will have a major effect on our plans going forward.

This grant follows a $500,000 grant we received from the Open Philanthropy Project in 2016. The Open Philanthropy Project’s announcement for the new grant notes that they are “now aiming to support about half of MIRI’s annual budget”.1 The annual $1.25 million represents 50% of a conservative estimate we provided to the Open Philanthropy Project of the amount of funds we expect to be able to usefully spend in 2018–2020.

This expansion in support was also conditional on our ability to raise the other 50% from other supporters. For that reason, I sincerely thank all of the past and current supporters who have helped us get to this point.

The Open Philanthropy Project has expressed openness to potentially increasing their support if MIRI is in a position to usefully spend more than our conservative estimate, if they believe that this increase in spending is sufficiently high-value, and if we are able to secure additional outside support to ensure that the Open Philanthropy Project isn’t providing more than half of our total funding.

We’ll be going into more details on our future organizational plans in a follow-up post December 1, where we’ll also discuss our end-of-the-year fundraising goals.

In their write-up, the Open Philanthropy Project notes that they have updated favorably about our technical output since 2016, following our logical induction paper:

We received a very positive review of MIRI’s work on “logical induction” by a machine learning researcher who (i) is interested in AI safety, (ii) is rated as an outstanding researcher by at least one of our close advisors, and (iii) is generally regarded as outstanding by the ML community. As mentioned above, we previously had difficulty evaluating the technical quality of MIRI’s research, and we previously could find no one meeting criteria (i) – (iii) to a comparable extent who was comparably excited about MIRI’s technical research. While we would not generally offer a comparable grant to any lab on the basis of this consideration alone, we consider this a significant update in the context of the original case for the [2016] grant (especially MIRI’s thoughtfulness on this set of issues, value alignment with us, distinctive perspectives, and history of work in this area). While the balance of our technical advisors’ opinions and arguments still leaves us skeptical of the value of MIRI’s research, the case for the statement “MIRI’s research has a nontrivial chance of turning out to be extremely valuable (when taking into account how different it is from other research on AI safety)” appears much more robust than it did before we received this review.

The announcement also states, “In the time since our initial grant to MIRI, we have made several more grants within this focus area, and are therefore less concerned that a larger grant will signal an outsized endorsement of MIRI’s approach.”

We’re enormously grateful for the Open Philanthropy Project’s support, and for their deep engagement with the AI safety field as a whole. To learn more about our discussions with the Open Philanthropy Project and their active work in this space, see the group’s previous AI safety grants, our conversation with Daniel Dewey on the Effective Altruism Forum, and the research problems outlined in the Open Philanthropy Project’s recent AI fellows program description.


  1. The Open Philanthropy Project usually prefers not to provide more than half of an organization’s funding, to facilitate funder coordination and ensure that organizations it supports maintain their independence. From a March blog post: “We typically avoid situations in which we provide >50% of an organization’s funding, so as to avoid creating a situation in which an organization’s total funding is ‘fragile’ as a result of being overly dependent on us.”

The post A major grant from the Open Philanthropy Project appeared first on Machine Intelligence Research Institute.

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TTT LAN Party

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

Posted by: http://youtu.be/tZqUNeBO_Ns

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Initial Coin Offering-Backed Startup Confido Goes Dark After Getting $374,000 From Investors

Posted on November 21st, 2017 by Ziipa

A few weeks ago, Jordan Belfort—the notorious “Wolf of Wall Street” and convicted financial scam artist—warned the entire internet not to get into sketchy cryptocurrency-backed startups. Specifically, he warned that initial coin offerings, a form of almost completely unregulated investment vehicle where crypto-backed…

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