Microsoft concerned about 2021 Election Integrity Act

Microsoft is making its opinion known on the matter of voters’ rights.

Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft, has taken to the company blog to speak out about the Election Integrity Act (via The Verge). In a post entitled “Why we are concerned about Georgia’s new election law,” Smith opens with a few statements outlining how much business Microsoft does in Georgia and how invested the company is in the city of Atlanta specifically. Smith then details how, as part of Atlanta’s business community, Microsoft feels a need to voice its worries regarding the new act.

Smith’s words are straightforward:

We are concerned by the law’s impact on communities of color, on every voter, and on our employees and their families. We share the views of other corporate leaders that it’s not only right but essential for the business community to stand together in opposition to the harmful provisions and other similar legislation that may be considered elsewhere.

He goes on to outline how the Election Integrity Act’s restrictions on voting drop boxes and absentee boxes cause unnecessary trouble for average people looking to vote. “From our perspective, there is no rational basis for the Georgia legislature to authorize secure drop boxes but limit their use so severely,” Smith writes.

This isn’t the first time the President of Microsoft has spoken out about political matters. Within the past few months, Smith has both congratulated Joe Biden on becoming the president of the United States as well as defended Microsoft’s donations to politicians who fought the certification of Biden’s Electoral College results. Needless to say, Smith has kept himself busy navigating the trickiest of political tightrope acts. His statements regarding Georgia’s Election Integrity Act further cement that we’ll be hearing more of Microsoft’s political views as the months roll on.

Microsoft concerned about 2021 Election Integrity Act

Your beginners guide to Outriders and harnessing your powers

.

Here’s a tip: Pick this up on Xbox Game Pass.

Outriders from People Can Fly and Square Enix is finally out, offering players the chance to loot and shoot their way across an alien planet with guns and superpowers. The crux of this upcoming multiplayer shooter game isn’t difficult to understand, and while the tutorial can be a bit long in the tooth, it’s still straightforward and gives you a good rundown of what you need to do to play. However, some elements of the game either become apparent over time or aren’t spelled out so clearly. Here are seven things you should know before getting started in Outriders.

1. Try out all of the classes

There are four classes in Outriders: Devastator, Pyromancer, Trickster, and Technomancer. Once you get through the prologue, you have to choose one and then you’re stuck with it for the rest of the game. That is, unless you start over with a new character.

You’ll get multiple save slots in Outriders (there were six available in the demo). While the prologue is sizeable, you can skip it once you’ve completed it once and just hop right into character creation and class selection. Then, you can try out a new character for a couple of quests and see how you do. You might find your preferred playstyle right away, or it might take you a couple of tries. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses, so play around and find out what works best.

2. Pay attention to status effects

Like in other games, you deal damage to enemies but also status effects. There are eight different status effects: Ash, Bleed, Burn, Freeze, Slow, Toxic, Vulnerable, and Weakness.

Depending on your class, certain status effects become more important. For example, Pyromancers can heal (more on this later) after killing an enemy with Burn already applied, while Tricksters often apply Slow to enemies using their abilities. If an enemy gets a status effect, a little icon will appear on top of their health bar. Pay attention to this and you can maximize your gameplay.

3. Keep moving

Regardless of what class you choose, People Can Fly want players to keep moving. Staying still on the battlefield or hiding behind cover for a prolonged period will increase the chance enemies will flank your position or throw an ordinance, forcing you out anyway.

Luckily, you’ll learn very quickly that you need to constantly move around, not only because the developers want you to, but also because there will be some advantages. The majority of playstyles work best in medium or close range (although longer-range playstyles are available), so you’ll be hopping around each battlefield. Also, as you’ll learn in the next section, sometimes behind close to enemies helps with healing.

4. Learn how to heal your class

Outriders doesn’t have typical health items. Instead, each of the classes has a different way to heal that comes from killing enemies in specific ways.

Devastator: Gain health back simply by standing near an enemy you kill. This is a close-range tank class, so you’ll be taking a lot of damage, but the more you kill, the more you gain.
Pyromancer: Marking an enemy with your class ability and then killing them will grant you health. There are also a few Pyromancer skills that allow you to leech health from others.
Trickster: This is another easy one. You have to kill enemies at close range and you’ll gain health back. Tricksters also get shield buffs.
Technomancer: This is the closest Outriders gets to a support class, so there are plenty of skills you can unlock that can heal you and your allies. Regardless, the Technomancer also gains health back as they deal damage.

5. Play with a balanced team

In Outriders, you can play in teams of up to three people or solo. There aren’t class restrictions when playing in teams — you can theoretically play with three Tricksters if you want — but you’d be missing out on what you can do in a versatile team and the chance to mess around with some fun strategies.

Each of the classes fills a certain niche, whether you want to be the tank with the Devastator or a support or long-distance damage dealer with the Technomancer. So having different classes on the battlefield allows players to strategize more about placement.

The different classes can also pull off combos together. Having a Trickster on your team who can slow enemy movement is a great foundation for a devastating combo with the Pyromancer or Devastator, who have area of effect attacks. The Technomancer is the only class that can use ordinances, making them perfect for getting enemies out from behind cover. A Devastator and Technomancer combo could be deadly, especially with all of the buffs you can unlock as the latter class. The battles in Outriders are plentiful and dynamic, so there is plenty of room to experiment.

6. Manually pick your World Tier

Outriders has a unique take on game difficulty with its World Tiers system. You start in World Tier 1, the easiest tier, and as you play and kill enemies, you’ll earn experience points. You’ll then rank up into different tiers, which grants you rewards and better loot, but also more difficult enemies. There are 15 in total, and you can view your current one, along with your progress, at the top of the screen.

However, if you decide that the game has become too difficult, you can manually change your world tier. Just open the menu and go to the World Tier option. You can then go back to any previous World Tier.

7. Grind sidequests and pay attention to resources

This is a game all about looting and shooting, and you can do both of those in the main quest and sidequests. However, unlike the main quests, you can play side missions as many times as you like. This is the perfect way to grind for loot in the hopes you get that gun you want or that piece of armor that’ll help your game. Even if you don’t get the loot you want, you can dismantle them for resources or sell them at shops.

Also, make sure you pay attention as you traverse levels. There will be opportunities to harvest resources, which you can then use for crafting. There are also chests at the end of each battle you should remember to open for loot. The way to get the best loot is to go up in the World Tier system and grind, but you can also cut that time down by crafting or buying at shops.

Your thoughts?

Do you have a tip you want to share? Drop it in the comments below. Outriders will be out on April 1 for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Steam, Epic Games Store, and Stadia. It’ll also be available on Xbox Game Pass on day one.

Loot and shoot on Enoch

Outriders

$60 at Xbox
$60 at Amazon
$60 at Best Buy

Whatever your playstyle, the choice is yours

Outriders features drop-in, drop-out co-op for up to three players and four classes to choose from. No matter your playstyle, you can take on the obstacles of Enoch with style.

Your beginners guide to Outriders and harnessing your powers

Microsoft wins U.S. Army contract to produce augmented reality headsets

Who said war never changes?

Pictured: Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 adapted for the US Army and soldier use.

What you need to know

Microsoft has won a contract to produce augmented reality helmets for the U.S. Army.
The contract could net Microsoft up to $21.88 billion over 10 years.
This is the latest in a series of contracts Microsoft has signed on for with the U.S. military.

Update: Microsoft has also confirmed and published the news themselves.

According to CNBC, The Pentagon has announced Microsoft as the winner of a contract that will task the tech giant with constructing more than 120,000 augmented reality headsets for the U.S. Army. A Microsoft spokesperson who spoke with CNBC stated the contract could be worth up to $21.88 billion over ten years.

The augmented reality headsets in question are modified versions of Microsoft’s consumer and business-friendly HoloLens headsets. While the standard HoloLens headsets overlay real-life environments with holographic imagery, the military variants add a map, compass, and thermal imaging capabilities, as well as the ability to project the aim of weapons. The Army-ordered HoloLens model is referred to as the Integrated Audio Visual System (IVAS).

This new contract isn’t a complete surprise given that Microsoft was tasked with developing and delivering prototype military augmented reality headsets in 2018, as reported by Bloomberg. Said prototype contract caused backlash within Microsoft, as employees cited ethical concerns over using the HoloLens technology for military purposes. However, Microsoft forged ahead with the deal, thereby paving the way for today’s news.

These aren’t the only deals Microsoft has struck with the U.S. government’s military-focused branches. In 2019, Microsoft won the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to provide cloud services for the U.S. Department of Defense. Microsoft engaged in quite the fight with Amazon for the contract but ultimately secured it. That deal has the potential to be worth $10 billion over the course of ten years. Another contract named Defense Enterprise Office Solutions, or DEOS, which is worth $7.6 billion was also awarded to General Dynamics Corp to deploy Microsoft Teams to the DOD.

Holographic computing

Microsoft HoloLens 2

$3,500 at Microsoft

HoloLens, but better

HoloLens 2 takes everything that made the original great and turns it up to 11. With a new carbon-fiber body, extra padding, eye tracking, and a wider field of view, the headset should have no problem finding success among developers and first-line workers.

Microsoft wins U.S. Army contract to produce augmented reality headsets

Here are all the radiator sizes the Corsair Obsidian 1000D supports

Best answer: The Corsair Obsidian 1000D supports up to four 480 mm radiators simultaneously. The default configuration is two 480 mm radiators at the front and one 420 mm radiator at the top.

Best PC case money can buy: Corsair Obsidian 1000D $515 at Newegg

Best Radiator for the Obsidian 1000D: Corsair Hydro X Series XR7 $140 at Newegg

Corsair Obsidian 1000D radiator support

The Corsair Obsidian 1000D is a massive case with room for two whole systems, which means that you’re going to need a ton of cooling and airflow. The Obsidian 1000D keeps plenty of room for just that. There’s space for radiators at the front, top, and rear. The case is also big enough to let you house four 480mm radiators at the same time, which is one of the reasons why it’s one of the best PC cases out there.

What’s more, there’s support for pretty much all the radiator sizes you could find — 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm, 360mm, 420mm, and 480mm. The case includes slide-out radiator trays for quick and easy radiator mounting, with additional trays available for purchase according to your choice of radiator combinations.

Corsair Obsidian 1000D radiator configurations

Corsair Obsidian 1000D comes with the default radiator configuration of up to two 480 mm radiators at the front, a 420mm radiator at the top, and a 240mm radiator at the rear. The front and top have slide-out trays, while the rear has room for two 120 mm fans to go with the 240mm radiator.

Corsair also lists additional configurations on the website. The rear configuration stays the same, but you get a lot more options to mix and match radiator configurations at the front and the top. Even with the maximum capacity, you will have enough room for all the components you could fit in this case. If you can’t decide, check out our guide on how to choose the right radiator, picking the best radiators for your system.

Dual-system beast

Corsair Obsidian 1000D

$515 at Newegg

Overkill PC case

The Corsair Obsidian 1000D is a beast of a case, and it can fit two complete systems. There’s plenty to go around with room for up to four 480mm radiators when it comes to radiator space. If you want to go all out on a PC build and if cooling is a priority, then you should definitely go for the Corsair Obsidian 1000D

Best Corsair radiators

Corsair Hydro X Series XR7

$140 at Newegg

Cool your Obsidian

The Corsair Hydro X Series XR7 is the best radiator lineup from Corsair. If you’re looking for the perfect radiators for your Obsidian 100D, look no further. It comes in three sizes, 240mm, 360mm, and 480mm. If you want to go for 120mm, 140mm, or 240mm sizes, you can look at the XR5 range instead.

Here are all the radiator sizes the Corsair Obsidian 1000D supports

Microsoft gets contract worth up to $22 billion to outfit US Army with 120,000 AR headsets

The killer use case for AR/VR might just be warfare.
Today, Microsoft announced that it has received a contract to outfit the United States Army with tens of thousands of augmented reality headsets based on the company’s HoloLens tech. This contract could be worth as much as $21.88 billion over 10 years, the company says.
Microsoft will be fulfilling an order for 120,000 AR headsets for the Army based on their Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) design. The modified design upgrades the capabilities of the HoloLens 2 for the needs of soldiers in the field.
“The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios,”  a blog post from Microsoft’s Alex Kipman reads.
The contract builds on the two-year $480 million contract that Microsoft won back in 2018 to outfit the U.S. Army with augmented reality tech. At the time, the contract detailed that the deal could potentially result in follow-on orders of more than 100,000 headsets. “Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions. This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement sent to TechCrunch at the time.
Microsoft says this announcement marks the transition from prototyping these designs to producing and rolling them out in the field.
This is a massive scaleup for augmented reality tech that has seen few large-scale rollouts and gives Microsoft a government contractor budget to tackle base technology problems that could scale down to consumer and enterprise-level devices in the future. Many of the industry’s biggest players in augmented reality have been reluctant or outspoken in their avoidance of military contracts but Microsoft has remained undeterred in competing for these contracts.

Automakers, suppliers and startups see growing market for in-vehicle AR/VR applications

Microsoft wins $480M military contract to outfit soldiers with HoloLens AR tech

Microsoft gets contract worth up to billion to outfit US Army with 120,000 AR headsets

Play more games with a Dell G3 gaming laptop on sale for $637 while you can

Dell is going a little crazy on the desktop and laptop deals right now, and the best deal available is the Dell G3 gaming laptop. The price has dropped by $227.99 down to a grand total of $636.99 in a limited-time sale that’s already halfway done. You’ll want to get in on it before the stock runs out or the deal expires, either of which could happen at any moment. You can get free shipping and even express delivery so you’ll get it before the week is out.

If the laptop doesn’t appeal to you, check out the rest of Dell’s big savings on gaming gear, which includes $722 off the Alienware Area-51m R2 laptop, the Dell G5 gaming desktop for just $862.39, and more.

For a machine priced at less than $650, you’re getting a lot of value out of this laptop. It has a ton of great features. The specifications include a 10th-generation Intel Core i5-10300H quad-core processor with Turbo Boost Technology for up to 4.5GHz speeds. It also has 8GB RAM so you can run plenty of programs and browsers at once, a 256GB M.2 NVMe solid state drive for storage and ultra-fast read and write speeds, and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650Ti 4GB graphics card.

The computer has a 15.6-inch display with a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. It has an antireflective finish to help you reduce eyestrain and widen your field of view as well. The screen has a 120Hz refresh rate and can reach 250 nits of brightness.

You’ll get built-in speakers, Killer Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and more. There’s a built-in HD webcam with mic and a card reader that supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards. The laptop has one USB-C port and three USB-A ports including. It also has HDMI output you can use to hook up to an HDTV or a larger monitor for some more real estate. It comes with the Windows 10 operating system.

Play more games with a Dell G3 gaming laptop on sale for 7 while you can

Review: Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 brings flair to your Razer PC

If you’re knee-deep in the Razer ecosystem, the new Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 is the perfect addition to make your laptop like a desktop

If you’re attempting to live the one-PC life by doing everything on a laptop, getting the proper setup can make the experience. One crucial accessory that I found surprisingly valuable is a laptop stand, which keeps things organized and allows for a more ergonomic typing position.

So, leave it to Razer to come up with the most baller laptop stand on the market that pairs nicely with the Razer Book 13. The new Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 delivers nice, angled typing, plenty of modern ports, and, of course, that sweet RGB Chroma to add some flair.

While not a cheap accessory ($150), it is also more helpful than I thought it would be, making it an easy recommendation. However, there are some caveats regarding what kind of laptop you can use with it. Here is my quick review of the new Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2.

Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 review:

Price and availability
What’s good
What’s not good
The competition
Should you buy?

Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2

Bottom line: For Razer purists, the Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 is a crucial piece of the ultimate PC battle station setup. With plenty of expansion ports, angled typing, and RGB lighting, it’s the only exciting laptop stand on the market. But for non-Razer users, the price is a non-starter.

The Good

Excellent design
Plenty of expansion ports
Custom RGB lighting
Ergonomic typing

The Bad

Price is crazy
May block fans on non-Razer laptops
Non-adjustable height and angle

$150 at Razer

Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2: Price and availability

Introduced in February 2021, the Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 is currently available only through Razer.com for $149.99.

The older Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V1 model, which has fewer ports (just Type-A, no HDMI, or Type-C) and is $50 cheaper, is still available but is harder to recommend instead of this newer model.

Razer also offers the plain Razer Laptop Stand for $50-$60, though it lacks expansion ports and RGB. It’s available in black or mercury white.

Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2: What’s good

Like pizza, it is hard to mess up a laptop stand. The Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 is of all-metal (stamped aluminum) construction with no moving parts. There is non-slip rubber at the front and where the bottom of the laptop meets the stand to prevent sliding and marring.

You have all the ports on the rear, including two Type-C (including passthrough charging), two Type-A, and a full HDMI. The configuration results in a whole USB Type-C hub experience, letting you output to two monitors (HDMI and Type-C) at QHD (2560 x 1440) resolution or up to a single 5K display.

There is a second Type-C port and two Type-As for data expansion, and it all connects via a separate dedicated Type-C cable attached at the base of the stand.

Category
Razer Laptop Stand Chroma v2

Ports
x5

USB Type-A
x2 (USB 3.2 Gen1, 5Gbps)

USB Type-C
1x USB 3.2 Gen1, 5Gbps, DP1.4(VESA Alternate Mode)1x Power Delivery Input (No Data or Video)

HMDI (2.0)
x1

Display Output
(Single) 5k (5120×2880) @ 60Hz4k (3840×2160) @ 60HzUWQHD (3440×1440) @100HzWQHD (2560×1440) @144HzWQHD (2560×1440) @175HzFHD (1920×1080) @144HzFHD (1920×1080) @360Hz

Display Output (Dual)
HDMI (2.0) & USB-C

(DP 1.4)
Dual QHD (2560×1440) @60HzDual FHD (1920×1080) @120Hz

Power Delivery to laptop w/100W
80W

Power Delivery to laptop w/65W
46W

Materials
Stamped Aluminum

Lighting Tech
Chroma

Viewing Angle
18 degrees

Dimensions
212 mm (W) x 496 mm (L) x 74.3 mm (H) 8.4 inches (W) x 19.5 inches (L) x 2.9 inches (H)

Weight
588g / 1.3 lbs

Supported Systems (Razer)
Razer Blade Stealth 13Razer Book 13Razer Blade 15 Advanced ModelRazer Blade 15 Base ModelRazer Blade Pro 17

If you need more ports, you can easily connect up to Razer’s beefier Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma ($329), which has ten ports, including RJ-45 Ethernet, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack. You can also use this stand with Razer’s external GPUs like the $300 Razer Core X.

The laptop lays on top at an 18-degree angle, which feels ridiculously good to type on when stationed. It makes you remember why full keyboards have angled typing to begin with, as it is just way more comfortable than lying flat.

The Razer Chroma RGB lighting is a nice touch, even if a bit overkill for a stand. Chroma RGB can all sync together, so this stand’s lighting can match the laptop’s keyboard and the rest of Razer’s accessories. If you’re going all-in on Razer’s ecosystem – including the computer, gaming mouse, external keyboard, and display – the lighting here ties it all nicely together for a killer look.

Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2: What’s not good

Make sure the stand clears your laptop’s fan intakes.

The Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 officially supports the Razer Blade Stealth 13, Razer Book 13, Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model, Razer Blade 15 Base Model, and Razer Blade Pro 17. That makes sense as Razer sees this as an extension of its growing line of PCs and accessories.

Of course, being just a stand, it works with any laptop with a Type-C port – there is nothing proprietary here, including the software for the lighting (Razer Synapse). But you must be careful that your non-Razer laptop does not have its fan intake ports right where this stand connects. That said, it shouldn’t be a problem for most laptops, but it is worth considering.

While I enjoyed the 18-degree angling of the laptop, there are laptop stands out there that have user-adjustable angles and even height, giving you much more flexibility. Such stands tend to look less pristine, are wobbly, and a bit gangly, but the ergonomics may be superior for some users.

Power delivery is also a bit compromised, with only 46-watts going to your laptop if using a 65-watt charger and 80-watts if using a 100-watt one. If you’re big into gaming and pushing a powerful GPU, you’re probably going to need a Thunderbolt dock instead of, or in addition to, this stand.

There’s also no mercury white version yet. While black goes with any laptop, it would have been nice for those with the Razer Book 13 to get a complimentary set.

Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2: Competition

The 18-degree typing angle is great for the Razer Book 13.

Razer is certainly charging a premium for the Laptop Stand Chroma V2, but for purists and completists who want all-in on the Razer ecosystem, few alternatives exist.

There are generic portable Type-C hubs and laptop stands (without lighting) on Amazon for around $25 each if you want to ad-hoc it with a floppy dongle system.

More realistically, the Macally RGB Laptop Stand with USB Ports can be found for just $30 (regularly $40). The lighting is nowhere near as good as Razer’s Chroma, and it doesn’t appear to support display-out for even one external monitor, let alone two, but you do get four Type-A ports for data and accessories.

Get more ideas in our best laptop stands guide to see what else we recommend.

Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2: Should you buy it?

Razer Book 13 with Laptop Stand Chroma V2, Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma, and Core X eGPU.

You should buy this if …

You have a Razer laptop and want a desktop experience
Have a non-Razer laptop with appropriate venting
Want a cool looking laptop stand that can run two external monitors
You have other Razer Chroma accessories

You shouldn’t buy this if…

You’re on a tight budget
Have a non-Razer laptop with middle vents
Don’t need display out or RGB lighting

There are a few ways to evaluate the Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2: overall experience and value. For usage, I liked this stand. It made typing more comfortable than usual, allowed me to add external displays, add more ports, and it just looks good with a Razer-heavy setup. From that sense, it’s a great product.

Value is a bit harder to defend as clearly the $150 is on the insane end of the spectrum. Razer is known for being more “premium” than others, and that reputation shines here. Of course, there is a clear value bump from the $99 version, so Razer is at least consistent, but I think non-Razer fans will balk at the pricing, which is totally fair.

If, however, you are already all-in on Razer, the $150 price may well be worth the have an immaculate and lit-up PC battle station. For instance, if you have the Razer Raptor 27, Basilisk Ultimate, Huntsman Analog, and Firefly, why wouldn’t you get this to complete the deal?

4
out of 5

I think that ‘complete the collection challenge’ is what Razer is banking on, and if you find yourself in that camp, the Laptop Stand Chroma V2 is easy to recommend (it’s called the cult of Razer for a reason). For all others, there are more appropriate choices.

Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2

Bottom line: For Razer purists, the Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 is a crucial piece of the ultimate PC battle station setup. With plenty of expansion ports, angled typing, and RGB lighting, it’s the only exciting laptop stand on the market. But for non-Razer users, the price is a non-starter.

$150 at Razer

Review: Razer Laptop Stand Chroma V2 brings flair to your Razer PC

The latest Minecraft: Java Edition snapshot adds goats and more

The GOAT of Minecraft snapshots.

What you need to know

Minecraft: Java Edition tests future updates and features through update “slices” known as snapshots.
Minecraft: Java Edition Snapshot 21w13a is available for PC Minecraft players right now.
The latest snapshot adds goats and tweaks from the upcoming ‘Caves and Cliffs Update.’
There’s also a new accessibility option for the loading screen and plenty of bug fixes on board too.

Minecraft is all about swapping features in the latest batch of betas and snapshots today. Minecraft: Bedrock Edition got axolotl and deepslate, which had already been tested in a previous Minecraft: Java Edition snapshot. On the other hand, Minecraft: Java Edition Snapshot 21w13a has just arrived on scene with the new goat mob, which appeared in a past Minecraft: Bedrock Edition beta.

The latest Minecraft: Java Edition snapshot is now available to Minecraft: Java Edition snapshot players, and features a new mob and more tweaks from the upcoming Caves and Cliffs Update. Players can also find a ton of tweaks and changes to existing features and previously-tested additions, a new accessibility option, and the usual batch of bug fixes and general improvements. The highlight for this snapshot is certainly the goats, a new neutral mob that resides in Minecraft’s mountains and boasts of some impressive jumping power.

You can play the new Minecraft: Java Edition snapshot right now. If you’re looking for something Minecraft-themed for yourself or a loved one, be sure to check our list of best merch, toys, and gifts for Minecraft. On the other hand, if you’re just looking to shake up the way you play Minecraft, check out our ultimate guide on how to mod Minecraft: Java Edition.

The full changelog for Minecraft: Java Edition Snapshot 21w13a includes:

New features

Added the goat!
Added an accessibility option

Goat

Goats spawn in Mountains
Goats can scale the sides of mountains with their incredible jumps!
Goats can be tempted and bred using Wheat
Goats are another source of milk!

Accessibility

Added an alternative solid black background color for the Mojang Studios loading screen, toggleable with the “Monochrome Logo” accessibility option

Changes

Tweaks to Caves
Tweaks to Ore Distribution
Tweaks to Powdered Snow
Dripstone clusters can now be found rarely in normal caves
Deepslate blobs can now be found between heights 0 and 16
Axolotls and glow squids now spawn in underground water sources
Axolotls will now always chase after and attack squids, glow squids, tropical fish, cod, salmon, pufferfish, drowned, guardians, and elder guardians
Axolotls now have a two-minute cooldown after hunting non-hostile targets such as fish, squids, etc.
They will prioritize targeting hostile mobs first before hunting.
Bees now see Flowering Azalea (and Flowering Azalea Leaves) as flowers
Additions to Wandering Trader and Mason trades
Additions to chest loot tables

Caves

Mineshaft tweak: increased the max length of pillars and chains.
Carver tweaks: made carvers less likely to be too flat to walk through.
Noise cave tweaks:

Increased likelihood of megacaves (large cheese caves)
Reduced likelihood of toothpick pillars (tall 1-block thin pillars)
Other tweaks to make the cheese caves more varied and interesting

Ore distribution

Slightly more iron
Larger diamond blobs sometimes form

Powdered snow

Powder snow’s durability / hardness was slightly increased
Freeze time has decreased to 7 seconds and hurt frequency has decreased to 2 seconds
Entities on fire now melt Powder Snow when colliding
Increase vertical movement speed within Powder Snow
Strays, Polar Bears, and Snow Golems are now immune to freezing
Mobs now shake when they are fully frozen
Skeletons converting to strays now only require the 7 seconds it takes for an entity to be fully frozen to begin converting, instead of the 30 seconds it took before
Leather horse armor now protects horses from freeze damage
Mobs that enjoy the heat (Blazes, Magma Cubes, and Striders) take increased freeze damage

Trade & loot tables

Added the following trades to Mason:

Will sell 4 Dripstone blocks for 1 emerald

Added the following trades to Wandering Trader:

Will sell 2 Pointed Dripstones for 1 emerald
Will sell 2 Rooted Dirt for 1 emerald
Will sell 2 Moss Blocks for 1 emerald

Moss blocks can be found in Shipwreck chests
Glow Berries can be found in Mineshaft chest minecarts

Technical changes

Added metric cube of light!
Unused parts of code are no longer removed

Light block

Op-only (/give) air-like waterloggable block
Emits light at a level determined by block state
Visible and targetable only when the item is held (similar to barrier)
Right-click cycles light level

Bug fixes

End portal appears transparent from below
Killing guardian with lava does not give cooked fish
Polar bears drop raw fish instead of cooked fish when killed with fire or lava
There are a number of unused texture files
Kicked from the game when reaching y levels over 30,000,000
Air can be used in custom recipes, causing a crash
Servers able to bypass EULA blacklist
Some NBT tags are not kept when fish or axolotl mobs are caught in water buckets
Observer doesn’t detect when a grass block changes to dirt if a tree grows on top
Leash knot sound effect plays when loading singleplayer world
‘Cover Me With Diamonds’ advancement improperly capitalized
Stonecutter saw spins both ways simultaneously
Some experience points do not go towards Mending repair, even if the Mending gear is not fully repaired
Suspicious stew inedible with full hunger
Turtles laying eggs on red sand produce normal sand particles
Zombies that die while on fire do not drop baked potatoes
Back of ladder is incorrectly mirrored
Vines appear incorrectly mirrored when viewed from behind
Texture planes of crop models appear incorrectly mirrored from behind
Chain model planes are incorrectly mirrored on the rear
Chain section on lanterns is incorrectly mirrored from behind
Sea pickle green top sections do not render correctly from behind
Water bottle doesn’t extinguish candles
Lightning rod bottom texture is mapped incorrectly
Can’t “Pick Block” cauldrons with liquid or powdered snow inside
Aiming a spyglass with a loaded crossbow in offhand creates weird third person effect
Waterlogged candles can be lit
Candle extinguishing particle appears offset from the candle
Cauldrons filled with water, lava or powder snow cannot be used as a workstation for villagers
Powder snow does not cause underlying grass, mycelium or podzol to appear snowy
Mobs wearing leather boots spin around when walking on powder snow
Mobs that get damaged by powder snow can spawn inside powder snow
Landing on powder snow while wearing leather boots inflicts fall damage on Java, but not on Bedrock
The particles produced when extinguishing a campfire are misplaced
Powder snow inside textures are not correctly mirrored
Mobs don’t path find across powder snow blocks when not wandering
Using /setblock to place a structure block defaults to save mode, unlike placing one by hand
Skeletons in powder snow spin when aiming at the player
Endermen holding water, lava or powder snow cauldrons don’t drop cauldrons
Placing turtle egg / sea pickle onto turtle egg/sea pickle while sneaking doesn’t place it next to it, although placing candle onto candle does
Experience orb stacks that were used in the mending process lose their experience amount, even if the stack is still larger than one
Copper slabs and stairs are not included in the #minecraft:slabs and #minecraft:stairs tags
Axolotls change color when released from bucket / axolotl entity data isn’t stored in the bucket item
Axolotls aren’t required for the “Two By Two” advancement
Axolotls don’t attack elder guardians
Semi-transparent pixels on axolotl textures
Axolotls don’t give regeneration or remove mining fatigue
Explorer maps & filled maps turn blank after entering the nether or end
Can’t cut stacks in half in furnace output
Tab exploit packet abuse can crash servers
Glow item frames are rendered dark when a light source is nearby
Back face of glow lichen is not correctly mirrored from behind
Some world border faces are rendered mirrored, resulting in incorrect corners
Shulker hitbox does not immediately rotate after the shulker visually rotates
Rooted dirt is far from other dirt variants in the Creative inventory
Rooted dirt is in decorations tab
Certain faces of azalea are not culled by other blocks
Azalea and flowering azalea z-fight when placed next to blocks
Water behaves as if moss blocks were air
Grass, ferns, flowers, bushes, saplings and bamboo cannot be placed on top of rooted dirt
Can’t pick block big dripleaf stem
Signs, banners, paintings & item frames cannot be placed on moss
Farmland / dirt path don’t convert to dirt when moss is placed above
Cannot turn Rooted Dirt into a Dirt Path
Using bone meal on a small dripleaf shows breaking particles
Big Dripleaf can be rotated incorrectly by breaking and replacing it
Skeletons don’t have a shaking animation while converting to strays
Azalea bushes connect to walls and fences
Mining rooted dirt is slightly faster than mining other dirt blocks
The azalea’s side textures are partially cut off
Cake cannot be placed on top of a moss block
Converted moss blocks do not update redstone
Rooted dirt cannot be picked up by endermen
Redstone doesn’t connect vertically on moss blocks
Rooted Dirt has no assigned tool
End gateway exit portals can be set to high coordinates, kicking the player
Rooted dirt is not randomly rotated
Tripwire texture is not mirrored correctly from behind
Tripwire which is part of a tripwire hook is not mirrored correctly from behind
Big dripleaf texture mirrored incorrectly from underneath
Small dripleaf texture mirrored incorrectly from underneath
Azalea top texture is mirrored incorrectly
Waterlogged pointed stalagmites don’t drop when their support block is broken
Powered big dripleaf play tilting sounds when blocks are changed nearby
Selecting nothing and pressing Ctrl+C clears clipboard
Rain passes through moss blocks
Maximum building height is 319, but warning message says 320
Players are able to locate other players with the lightning/thunder sound
Cobbled Deepslate Slab uses the stone sounds instead of the deepslate sounds
Small Dripleaf can’t be placed on Rooted Dirt while waterlogged
Shift Clicking items into inventory prevents the relevant advancement from triggering
Can type text into anvil text field without putting an item in it, preventing you from closing the UI with E
The eyes of some entities can be seen through powder snow/lava
Mineshaft support legs can generate in lava
Inconsistency: cobbled deepslate does not take longer to mine than deepslate
There is no sound when defrosting from fire / lava (vanilla parity)
Spyglass overlay broken while in water with fast graphics
There is no sound or subtitle for applying / removing / scraping wax or oxidation
Opening a UI darkens the background less than it used to
Minecraft crashes when spectating an entity submerged in water
Amethyst Blocks can no longer be gained by mining them
Shulker heads do not flash red when taking damage / when killed
Parity issue: Clouds are at y=192
Hanging Roots takes about a second to be mined
Big Dripleaf takes about a second to be mined
Experience orbs are no longer affected by the fog from powder snow/lava
Wither / creeper armor is no longer affected by the fog from powder snow / lava
Lightning is not affected by the fog from powder snow / lava
String is not affected by light levels
With graphics set to Fabulous!, blocks such as honey, slime and stained glass appear lit up in third person mode
Shader texture coordinate wrapping mode causes screen effects like glowing to wrap where they shouldn’t
Beacon beam is not affected by the fog from powder snow / lava
Water fog still very subtle making water appear too clear in the distance

The latest Minecraft: Java Edition snapshot adds goats and more

Microsoft Teams launches a heckin' friendly Instagram account

Microsoft Teams on Instagram is the brand outreach we deserve.

What you need to know

Microsoft Teams now has an Instagram account.
It’s very SFW and has memes.

It has arrived. After years of anticipation, the one true king of Instagram has risen to claim its throne.

If you thought Dwayne Johnson or Kylie Jenner had the best Instagram accounts, think again. Microsoft Teams’ official Insta is here to post the brand-approved, office-friendly photos you never knew you needed. Get ready for light-hearted memes and useful infographics galore.

If you act fast, you can be among the first 1,000 followers, meaning you’ll be part of an exclusive club privy to content including:

“Top 5 Teams WFH Moments!”
Pictures of friendly people working from home, which Microsoft hopes you can identify with
Cross-picture banners with slogans such as “Better together” (because Teams, get it?)

All in all, it’s looking to be a wholesome time over on the Microsoft Teams Instagram page. This comes as no surprise, given how many brands have been working hard to cultivate friendly, playful social media personas over the past few years. Origins of this trend are murky, though many would credit the Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter account as being the progenitor of the “memes as a way of interacting with customers” corporate mantra.

For consummate professionals who have no time for Instagram riff-raff, no worries: Microsoft Teams has other announcements going on, like the unveiling of timers for breakout rooms, in addition to new room retention and participant reassignment tools. All these features are detailed on the Microsoft 365 roadmap.

Microsoft Teams launches a heckin' friendly Instagram account

Facebook gets a C; startup rates the ‘ethics’ of social media platforms, targets asset managers

By now you’ve probably heard of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) ratings for companies, or ratings for their carbon footprint. Well, now a U.K. company has come up with a way of rating the “ethics” of social media companies.
EthicsGrade is an ESG ratings agency, focusing on AI governance. Headed up Charles Radclyffe, the former head of AI at Fidelity, it uses AI-driven models to create a more complete picture of the ESG of organizations, harnessing natural language processing to automate the analysis of huge data sets. This includes tracking controversial topics and public statements.
Frustrated with the green-washing of some “environmental” stocks, Radclyffe realized that the AI governance of social media companies was not being properly considered, despite presenting an enormous risk to investors in the wake of such scandals as the manipulation of Facebook by companies such as Cambridge Analytica during the U.S. election and the U.K.’s Brexit referendum.
EthicsGrade Industry Summary Scorecard – Social Media
Image Credits: EthicsGrade
The idea is that these ratings are used by companies to better see where they should improve. But the twist is that asset managers can also see where the risks of AI might lie.
Speaking to TechCrunch he said: “While at Fidelity I got a reputation within the firm for being the go-to person, for my colleagues in the investment team, who wanted to understand the risks within the technology firms that we were investing in. After being asked a number of times about some dodgy facial recognition company or a social media platform, I realized there was actually a massive absence of data around this stuff as opposed to anecdotal evidence.”
He says that when he left Fidelity he decided EthicsGrade would cover not just ESGs but also AI ethics for platforms that are driven by algorithms.
He told me: “We’ve built a model to analyze technology governance. We’ve covered 20 industries. So most of what we’ve published so far has been non-tech companies because these are risks that are inherent in many other industries, other than simply social media or big tech. But over the next couple of weeks, we’re going live with our data on things which are directly related to tech, starting with social media.”
Essentially, what they are doing is a big parallel with what is being done in the ESG space.
“The question we want to be able to answer is how does TikTok compare against Twitter or WeChat as against WhatsApp. And what we’ve essentially found is that things like GDPR have done a lot of good in terms of raising the bar on questions like data privacy and data governance. But in a lot of the other areas that we cover, such as ethical risk or a firm’s approach to public policy, are indeed technical questions about risk management,” says Radclyffe.
But, of course, they are effectively rating algorithms. Are the ratings they are giving the social platforms themselves derived from algorithms? EthicsGrade says they are training their own AI through NLP as they go so that they can automate what is currently very human analysts centric, just as “sustainalytics” et al. did years ago in the environmental arena.
So how are they coming up with these ratings? EthicsGrade says it is evaluating “the extent to which organizations implement transparent and democratic values, ensure informed consent and risk management protocols, and establish a positive environment for error and improvement.” And this is all achieved through publicly available data — policy, website, lobbying etc. In simple terms, they rate the governance of the AI, not necessarily the algorithms themselves but what checks and balances are in place to ensure that the outcomes and inputs are ethical and managed.

MIT professor wants to overhaul ‘The Hype Machine’ that powers social media

“Our goal really is to target asset owners and asset managers,” says Radclyffe. “So if you look at any of these firms like, let’s say Twitter, 29% of Twitter is owned by five organizations: it’s Vanguard, Morgan Stanley, Blackrock, State Street and ClearBridge. If you look at the ownership structure of Facebook or Microsoft, it’s the same firms: Fidelity, Vanguard and BlackRock. And so really we only need to win a couple of hearts and minds, we just need to convince the asset owners and the asset managers that questions like the ones journalists have been asking for years are pertinent and relevant to their portfolios and that’s really how we’re planning to make our impact.”
Asked if they look at content of things like Tweets, he said no: “We don’t look at content. What we concern ourselves [with] is how they govern their technology, and where we can find evidence of that. So what we do is we write to each firm with our rating, with our assessment of them. We make it very clear that it’s based on publicly available data. And then we invite them to complete a survey. Essentially, that survey helps us validate data of these firms. Microsoft is the only one that’s completed the survey.”
Ideally, firms will “verify the information, that they’ve got a particular process in place to make sure that things are well-managed and their algorithms don’t become discriminatory.”
In an age increasingly driven by algorithms, it will be interesting to see if this idea of rating them for risk takes off, especially amongst asset managers.

Facebook gets a C; startup rates the ‘ethics’ of social media platforms, targets asset managers