The Morning After: Blue screen of death outage affected around 8.5 million devices

A faulty update from cybersecurity provider CrowdStrike caused a global outage last Friday, apparently affecting some 8.5 million Windows devices, according to Microsoft itself.

The update triggered a blue screen of death (BSOD), knocking offline systems used by hospitals, airlines, and banks. Only machines running Windows were affected — according to CrowdStrike, the total number of devices affected was “less than one percent of all Windows machines.”

The update “was designed to target newly observed, malicious named pipes being used by common C2 frameworks in cyberattacks,” according to CrowdStrike. Unfortunately, it included a logic error, crashing the OS. In the blog post on Saturday, Microsoft’s VP of enterprise and OS security, David Weston, wrote that the company is working with CrowdStrike to “develop a scalable solution” to fix the faulty update. Microsoft has also called for help from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Unfortunately, not everything is fixed quite yet — just ask Delta flyers over the weekend.

— Mat Smith

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.45 PARABELLUM BLOODHOUND is a cyberpunk RPG with a ’90s aesthetic

What to read this weekend: The Light Eaters, Paranoid Gardens and I Was a Teenage Slasher

Samsung halts Galaxy Buds 3 Pro shipments amid quality control issues

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Engadget

No one has been making foldable phones longer than Samsung. But the pace of innovation from the company has slowed while new challengers, like the OnePlus Open and Pixel Fold, have arrived. Now for 2024, Samsung has reinforced the Galaxy Z Fold 6 with a stronger but significantly lighter frame, a new ultra-wide-angle camera and a bunch of AI-powered tools. It’s better, sure, but it feels like complacency is eroding Samsung’s foldable lead. 

Read the full review.

Kunitsu-Gami is a game of two halves: frenzied combat and peaceful base building. Demon enemies are often gross (intentionally!), filled with pus, and armed with claws. The game blends real-time combat with tower-defense mechanics, with all of it taking place in a zoomed-out third-person view. With so many samey action RPGs and Soulslikes, Kunitsu-Gami takes a refreshingly different approach. Oh, and so much delicious-looking, hyper-detailed video game food.

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NASA scientists say pure sulfur has been found on Mars for the first time after the Curiosity rover inadvertently uncovered a cluster of yellow crystals when it drove over a rock. And it looks like the area is filled with it. While minerals containing sulfur have been observed on the red planet, elemental sulfur has never been seen before. Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist, said: “It shouldn’t be there, so now we have to explain it.”

Continue reading.

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Rivian

Rivian just opened its first EV charging rest stop, 24 miles outside Yosemite National Park. Alongside the five DC fast chargers, only for Rivian owners, there are bathrooms, a lounge with a small library, a water refill station, free coffee, and make-your-own trail mix. These other amenities are open to anyone, and Rivian says it’s planning more Charging Outposts “around national parks and other high-traffic areas across the country.”

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-blue-screen-of-death-outage-affected-around-85-million-devices-112012903.html?src=rss

CrowdStrike outage aftershocks cause Delta to cancel over 1,000 more flights

The CrowdStrike outage that started late on Thursday is still causing havoc as Delta was forced to scrap an additional 1,250 flights yesterday on top of the 3,500 already cancelled, Reuters reported. That has left tens of thousands of Delta fliers stranded waiting for new flights that could take days, forcing many to cancel or postpone trips. The airline has yet to say when it will resume normal operations. 

Delta has scratched a third of scheduled flights for a total of 5,000 since Friday, and delayed another 1,700. "In particular one of our crew tracking-related tools was affected and unable to effectively process the unprecedented number of changes triggered by the system shutdown," said Delta CEO Ed Bastian.

CrowdStrike's software update affected 8.5 million Windows devices, causing many to go into a boot loop that could only be recovered by technicians with direct access to machines. The problem turned out to be a faulty sensor designed to detect malicious activity that "triggered a logic error that resulted in an operating system crash," according to CrowdStrike.

Delta was the worst hit of any US airline, and United Airlines was a distant second with about 266 (9 percent) of flights cancelled on Sunday. 

At first, United and Delta told stranded travelers that they wouldn't cover bills since the CrowdStrike crash was out of their control. However, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg later stepped in and said that he considered the situation self-inflicted, so carriers would need to cover food, transportation and lodging costs for any delays longer than three hours as required by law. 

CrowdStrike said today that a "significant" number of devices are back online and the company is reportedly close to rolling out an automatic fix to the issue. Also heavily impacted by the outage are healthcare and other public services in the US and UK, with the NHS warning patients that "there may still be some delays." 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/crowdstrike-outage-aftershocks-cause-delta-to-cancel-over-1000-more-flights-120025978.html?src=rss

Echoes of the Emergent, a hauntingly beautiful Playdate exclusive, sold me on visual novels

Somehow in all these years, I’ve never gotten into visual novels, despite being a person who loves both reading and video games. The idea has always intrigued me in some way, but I’ve never really felt compelled to actually pick one up. That changed when I first saw the announcement for Echoes of the Emergent a few months ago. Described as “a personal journey through a shattered post-apocalyptic world,” all it took was a glimpse of Echoes of the Emergent’s gritty aesthetic and melancholic atmosphere to get me to preorder it. And now that I’ve finally gotten around to playing (reading? experiencing?) it, I’m kind of blown away.

Echoes of the Emergent is a Playdate-exclusive title from RNG Party Games, the same team that made Bloom. It opens with its main character, Ayumi, on a tense scavenging trip to find any food she can in a ruined city. She’s alone, afraid and increasingly concerned about her dwindling resources. As the story progresses, it bounces between Ayumi’s bleak new reality and flashbacks to a time when things were normal. Her panicked efforts to stay alive, to keep going, are interwoven with memories of her family and friends — some of them happy, some painful. And there’s a cat.

A still from Echoes of the Emergent showing a girl (viewed from behind) looking out at dilapidated buildings. The text reads: It was all gone
RNG Party Games

The narrative is illustrated with haunting backgrounds of Ayumi’s dilapidated surroundings, and these move ever so slightly to create a really unsettling effect. If you press the down arrow on the D-pad, you can collapse the text box to get a full view of the backgrounds. It takes a few hours to get through the entire story, but it’s definitely worth carving out some time for. You can save your place by pressing ‘B’ to pull up the menu.

Echoes of the Emergent is the kind of experience that will stick with you for a little while even after it’s over. It’s available on the Playdate Catalog for $8, but you can also get it — and its captivating soundtrack — on itch.io.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/echoes-of-the-emergent-a-hauntingly-beautiful-playdate-exclusive-sold-me-on-visual-novels-222033336.html?src=rss

Boeing and NASA engineers have wrapped up ground tests on the Starliner thruster

Engineers from Boeing and NASA have spent much of the last month running ground tests on a Starliner Reaction Control System (RCS) thruster to get a better idea of what went wrong during the active Starliner’s flight in early June, and they finally wrapped up this past week. In its latest update, Boeing said the teams were able to replicate the thrust degradation Starliner experienced and are now reviewing all the data. But the date of astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams’ return is still uncertain — NASA and Boeing said only that they’ll be making the trip “in the coming weeks.”

In the tests at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, the teams simulated the conditions from Starliner’s recent flight, putting the control system thruster “through one of the most stressing launch-to-docking firing sequences with over 1,000 pulses to simulate CFT [Crew Flight Test] conditions,” according to Boeing. They also tested undocking and deorbit burn scenarios, which Starliner will experience on its way home. After collecting terabytes of data from those tests, the teams ran additional, more aggressive tests to “see if we could more closely simulate the higher thermal conditions the thrusters experienced in-flight,” said Dan Niedermaier, Boeing’s engineer for the thruster testing.

The engineers are in the process of doing “engine tear downs and inspections” NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, Steve Stich, said on Thursday. Following their analyses, NASA says there will be an Agency Flight Test Readiness Review to determine whether Starliner is in good shape to bring the astronauts back. NASA and Boeing said they will release more information in a conference in the coming days.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/boeing-and-nasa-engineers-have-wrapped-up-ground-tests-on-the-starliner-thruster-180027494.html?src=rss

NASA’s Curiosity rover accidentally uncovered pure sulfur crystals on Mars

NASA scientists say pure sulfur has been found on Mars for the first time after the Curiosity rover inadvertently uncovered a cluster of yellow crystals when it drove over a rock. And it looks like the area is filled with it. It’s an unexpected discovery — while minerals containing sulfur have been observed on the Red Planet, elemental sulfur on its own has never been seen there before. “It forms in only a narrow range of conditions that scientists haven’t associated with the history of this location,” according to NASA.

Curiosity cracked open the rock on May 30 while driving in a region known as the Gediz Vallis channel, where similar rocks were seen all around. The channel is thought to have been carved by water and debris flows long ago. “Finding a field of stones made of pure sulfur is like finding an oasis in the desert,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist. “It shouldn’t be there, so now we have to explain it. Discovering strange and unexpected things is what makes planetary exploration so exciting.” 

A rock run over and cracked by the Curiosity rover revealing yellow sulfur crystals
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

After spotting the yellow crystals, the team later used a camera on Curiosity’s robotic arm to take a closer look. The rover then took a sample from a different rock nearby, as the pieces of the rock it had smashed were too brittle for drilling. Curiosity is equipped with instruments that allow it to analyze the composition of rocks and soil, and NASA says its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) confirmed it had found elemental sulfur.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nasas-curiosity-rover-accidentally-uncovered-pure-sulfur-crystals-on-mars-211340580.html?src=rss

Outage caused by CrowdStrike’s disastrous update affected 8.5 million devices

The global outage caused by a faulty update from cybersecurity provider CrowdStrike on Friday affected some 8.5 million Windows devices, Microsoft said in a blog post. The update triggered a blue screen of death, bringing systems used by hospitals, airlines, banks and other major services temporarily to a standstill. Only machines running Windows were affected.

While the issue was mostly resolved by Friday afternoon, Microsoft and CrowdStrike are still dealing with the fallout. In the blog post on Saturday, Microsoft’s VP of Enterprise and OS Security, David Weston, wrote that the company is working with CrowdStrike to “develop a scalable solution that will help Microsoft’s Azure infrastructure accelerate a fix for CrowdStrike’s faulty update.” Microsoft has also called in help from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

CrowdStrike said in its own blog post on Saturday that the update — a sensor configuration update — “was designed to target newly observed, malicious named pipes being used by common C2 frameworks in cyberattacks.” Unfortunately, for devices running Windows 7.11 and above that use CrowdStrike’s Falcon sensor, it instead “triggered a logic error that resulted in an operating system crash.” The total number of devices affected worked out to be “less than one percent of all Windows machines,” according to Weston.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/outage-caused-by-crowdstrikes-disastrous-update-affected-85-million-devices-192703245.html?src=rss

.45 PARABELLUM BLOODHOUND is a cyberpunk RPG by the developer of VA-11 HALL-A

Sukeban Games is working on what it describes as a "cyberpunk active time action" game with a battle system that's similar to Parasite Eve. In a blog post, Chris of Sukeban has officially announced .45 PARABELLUM BLOODHOUND, featuring a mercenary named Reila Mikazuchi as its protagonist. Enemies can attack you from anywhere while you're exploring environments in the game, and you'll have to dodge and wait for an action bar to fill before you can launch a counterattack. The action bar fills at a speed based on your character and weapon stats, so the stronger you get, the faster you can fight back. 

While the announcement doesn't have a in-depth explanation of the game's plot, Chris describes its story as follows: "You play as Reila Mikazuchi; a washed out mercenary whose glory days are long gone. In a last attempt at grabbing life by the horns she decides to go back to the life, only to realize the real enemy isn’t in front of her gun."

The indie developer is planning to make seven chapters for the game, and five are already done and playable. It has yet to announce a release date, though, so as not to repeat its "N1RV ANN-A situation." Sukeban is the developer behind the cyberpunk bartending "booze-em-up" game VA-11 HALL-A, which is set in a post-dystopian world with a corporate-controlled society. 

VA-11 HALL-A was wildly successful for an indie title, and Sukeban announced a sequel called N1RV ANN-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action back in 2018 after it hit 200,000 copies sold. The developer hasn't released N1RV ANN-A yet despite announcing a 2020 launch date, and it doesn't look like we're seeing it anytime soon. Chris said .45 PARABELLUM BLOODHOUND is "significantly ahead in development" and that the developer is dedicating its "full attention to it for the foreseeable future."

Sukeban has also released the first trailer for .45 PARABELLUM BLOODHOUND, and you can watch it below.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/45-parabellum-bloodhound-is-a-cyberpunk-rpg-by-the-developer-of-va-11-hall-a-180043556.html?src=rss

The workers at Bethesda Game Studios have fully unionized

The workers at Bethesda Game Studios have joined the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and they say they're the first Microsoft video game studio to form a wall-to-wall union. A total of 241 workers have either signed an authorization card or have indicated that they wanted to join a union through an online portal. The "wall-to-wall" nature of their organization means the CWA will be representing workers across job descriptions and divisions — and not just one type — including artists, engineers, programmers and designers. Bethesda is the developer behind Starfield and the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games.

Microsoft has already recognized the union, so workers at the studio's Maryland office have officially joined CWA Locals 2108, while those in its Texas office have become members of CWA Locals 6215. "We are so excited to announce our union at Bethesda Game Studio and join the movement sweeping across the video game industry," Mandi Parker, Bethesda Senior System Designer, said. "It is clear that every worker can benefit from bringing democracy into the workplace and securing a protected voice on the job. We’re thrilled to get down to brass tacks and win a fair contract, proving that our unity is a source of real power to positively shape our working conditions, our lives, and the company as a whole."

Bethesda's workers join the growing number of unionized personnel in video games. In January 2023, quality assurance workers at ZeniMax Studios, the parent company of Bethesda, banded together to form what was then the largest union in the industry with 300 members. It lost the distinction as the largest union in video games when 600 quality assurance workers at Activision, which is also owned by Microsoft, joined the CWA this year. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-workers-at-bethesda-game-studios-have-fully-unionized-163024914.html?src=rss

Rivian opens its first Charging Outpost, a crunchy not-gas station near Yosemite

Rivian just opened its first EV charging rest stop 24 miles outside of Yosemite National Park, complete with bathrooms, a lounge with a small library, a water refill station, free coffee and (not free) “make your own” trail mix. Only Rivian owners will be able to make use of the five DC fast chargers at the Rivian Yosemite Charging Outpost, but the other amenities are open to anyone.

The Charging Outpost is located in Groveland, California near the park’s west entrance and takes the place of an abandoned gas station. The shop area will be open from 7AM to 7PM, while the bathrooms and chargers will be available 24/7. It’s the first time Rivian has ventured into this kind of infrastructure, building on its growing network of regular charging sites — several of which are situated near Yosemite. The EV maker has 58 Waypoint charging sites, which support any electric vehicle that uses the standard J1772 plug, around the Yosemite Valley, and a Rivian-only Adventure charging site near the park’s east entrance.

Rivian says it has plans for more Charging Outposts “around national parks and other high-traffic areas across the country.” The first such building was designed with the intention of keeping waste to a minimum, and its retaining wall was made using materials from the old parking lot and sidewalk. It’s fitted with solar panels and has a passive cooling design that’s meant to reduce the need for AC or heating.

Beyond Charging Outposts, Rivian plans to eventually have over 3,500 of its Adventure Network DC fast chargers available in 600 sites across the US and Canada, on top of roughly 10,000 Level 2 chargers that will be open to the public.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/rivian-opens-its-first-charging-outpost-a-crunchy-not-gas-station-near-yosemite-152039298.html?src=rss

‘Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess’ review: Demonic delights

Rhythm is everything in Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess. On a micro scale, the maiden Yoshiro dances through the game with graceful, measured movements, her steps cleansing the black defilement that has consumed her mountain and its people. In combat, Yoshiro’s protector, Soh, directs their sword in nimble arcs, landing attacks and parries based on timing and flow. On a grand scale, Kunitsu-Gami employs a soothing cadence of frenzied combat and peaceful base building. Soh’s abilities grow into a powerful crescendo as they guide Yoshiro down the mountain, her body deteriorating with each encounter.

Amid these crashing waves of tension and tranquility, Kunitsu-Gami also balances beauty and hellish terror with supreme skill. The slopes of Mt. Kafuku are lush, but its plants, animals and people are slathered in caustic pools of defilement, oil-slick and sticky. Yoshiro and Soh wear layers of delicate fabrics and glinting metallic jewelry, their movements mesmerizing. The demons that have taken over the mountain are vile — eyeless and bulging with toxic pus, many of them armed with sharp claws and gaping maws. The creature designs in Kunitsu-Gami are body-horrific and each beast is uniquely, grotesquely gorgeous.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess screenshot.
Capcom

Kunitsu-Gami finds harmony in its dichotomies. The game’s core loop involves a day-night cycle: During the day, players carve a path for Yoshiro to cleanse a settlement, meanwhile collecting crystals, repairing defenses and freeing villagers from cocoons of defilement. At night, creatures called Seethe pour out of the Torii gates, and Soh must defend Yoshiro with the help of the rescued villagers. Protecting Yoshiro and completing her ritual reverts each region to its pre-defilement form, creating a base where Soh can upgrade their units and abilities.

The game blends real-time combat with tower-defense mechanics, and all of it takes place in a zoomed-out third-person view with a fully adjustable camera anchored to Soh’s body. It’s an effective approach, inviting players to mess around with perspective and investigate every detour in the environment, purging defilement as they go.

There are 17 bases to cleanse on the mountain plus 10 boss stages. Defeating a big bad in a challenge stage unlocks a new warrior type for Soh to deploy, including healer, sorcerer, ninja, spearman, cannoneer, marksman, and an aesthetic that can slow down enemies. As night falls on a base battle, the game's music grows louder and more discordant, signaling the imminent Seethe invasion. Players assign roles to villagers using the crystals they’ve collected during the day, and then place their fighters around Yoshiro on the map. Each battle involves a different number of units — there are even fights that Soh has to complete on their own, and others where they’re incapacitated, leaving combat to the villagers entirely. The variety built into these encounters is refreshing.

Combat requires preparation and constant attention, as the Seethe attack Yoshiro from multiple sides with a variety of moves, including aerial slashes, suicide bombs and bulbous projectiles that explode in toxic pools. It’s often essential to reposition units mid-battle, and thankfully, time freezes during these tactical moments.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess screenshot.
Capcom

Soh mainly attacks with their sword in a smooth, rhythmic form that feels fantastic to control. Attacks are simple — on the DualSense, it’s square for smaller strikes and triangle for a large hit. Pressing square before triangle lines up elaborate sequences where Soh twists and swings their body before landing a series of big blows, and their positioning is completely controllable the entire time. This makes combat feel like one elongated dance, the input perfectly predicting Soh’s on-screen movements. Soh’s abilities evolve steadily with every victory and base repair, eventually adding a ranged bow, an extra form of swordplay, stronger attacks, multiple special moves and other upgrades to their kit.

Mandatory boss levels appear after some settlements are successfully cleansed, offering massive fights against gloriously gross creatures. I had to replay most of these bosses at least once, adjusting my unit types and positions according to each demon’s unique attack style and vulnerabilities. The enemies are all giant and covered in intricate, iridescent designs, but they’re otherwise distinct: There’s a skittering centipede that rushes in for rapid hits, a literal cherry tree with stabbing tentacle roots, a vicious floating sorcerer orbited by a ring of rocky spikes, and a juicy larval beast that moves like a petulant toddler and spews lethal sludge. That last one is called Notsugo and it’s my favorite because it’s so disgustingly adorable.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess
Capcom

After a fight in a settlement or boss stage, there’s time to take a breath and fix up some bases. The bases trail down the side of Mt. Kafuku in the stage-selection screen following a successful purge — once the defilement is cleared from a settlement, players still have to make it habitable by assigning villagers to fix broken buildings and platforms. Repairs take a few in-game days to complete and they unlock extra resources. It’s easy, tranquil work. This mechanic provides a soft place to land after a big battle, where players can strategize, upgrade their skills, pet a Shiba Inu or let a deer scream at them. I recommend repairing bases as quickly and thoroughly as possible: Not only does this net necessary resources at the proper pace, but it prevents an uncomfortable base-repair backlog from forming. By mid-game, I generally had three or four bases on the go at all times, and that was with immediate, maxed-out repairs.

The bases are also home to some of the most beautiful aspects of the game. Yoshiro sets up a tent in each base where players manage upgrades, and it also contains plates to share food with her. The dessert menu fills up first, offering a variety of mochi treats and crystalline sweets in a fabulous photorealistic viewing mode. I don’t know what it is, but I could stare at hyper-detailed video game food all day. Kunitsu-Gami understands this urge and caters to it.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess
Capcom

Additionally, the tent contains scrolls featuring traditional, woodcut-style art pieces relating to completed stages, and the bases have collectable ema plaques that showcase detailed, rotatable 3D images of the demons and villagers players encounter. These are sensational touches that not only expand the game’s lore, but shine a brilliant light on Japanese history and culture.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is perfectly balanced, lovingly crafted, and metal as hell. It’s filled with foreboding demons and intense combat, but it’s also a peaceful experience that invites players to slow down and recognize the beauty around them — even when it’s in the form of a giant, oozing monster. Especially then.

Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Game Pass. It's developed and published by Capcom.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/kunitsu-gami-path-of-the-goddess-review-demonic-delights-150004066.html?src=rss