European court: Nintendo doesn’t have to offer refunds for digital pre-orders – Blog – 10 minute

In context: Nintendo has been on a hot streak in the legal arena lately. Just yesterday, the company managed to convince a federal court to overturn a previous ruling that would have forced it to pay out roughly $10 million as part of a prior patent dispute judgement. Now, a European court has ruled in the video game giant’s favor as well.
For roughly two years, according to Norwegian gaming site PressFire, Nintendo has been locked in a legal dispute (Google Translated version here) with Norwegian and German “consumer authorities” regarding digital game refunds.
Specifically, refunds for digital game pre-orders. Right now, Nintendo does not allow customers to cancel orders for digital games that have not been launched.
“Except as authorized by Nintendo or as required by applicable law, all payments that you make through the Shopping Services (including pre-purchases and Subscription payments) are final and non refundable, and Products may not be returned or exchanged,” Nintendo’s official “Purchase and Subscription Terms” documentation reads.

Like many business practices of Nintendo’s, this refund policy is quite different than that of many others. Even some of the most controversial figures in the gaming industry (we won’t point fingers here) offer full refunds on digital pre-orders.
At any rate, the consumer authorities mentioned before sued Nintendo in the hopes of forcing the company to change its ways. Unfortunately for them and any consumers who felt their cause was just, that suit has failed.
Not only will Nintendo be allowed to retain its current digital pre-order policies, but the plaintiffs will be required to pay the company’s legal fees (standard practice for cases of this magnitude). The plaintiffs have appealed the court’s decision, but it remains to be seen whether or not that will work out.
Image credit: Market Realist, Nintendo Life

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Google partners with BT to offer Stadia bundled with high-speed internet service in UK – Blog – 10 minute

Getting by with a little help from its friends: For many, Google’s Stadia game-streaming service is a hard sell. Gaming from the cloud has met with limited success even for companies that have had a head start like Sony and Gamefly. But what if it was bundled with your TV or internet service? This appears to be the search giant’s next strategy to get Stadia into your home.
United Kingdom provider BT Broadband has partnered with Google to offer customers internet service packages bundled with Stadia. Now when people subscribe to BT’s Superfast Fibre 2, Ultrafast Fibre 100, or Ultrafast Fibre 250, they will receive Stadia Premiere Edition for free. The plans start at £40.
Google’s Stadia Premiere Edition regularly lists for £120. It includes three months of Stadia Pro, a Chromecast Ultra, Stadia controller, and Destiny 2: The Collection. Presumably, at the end of three months, £9 will be tacked on to your bill to continue your Stadia Pro subscription, although the company’s press release did not mention this point.
Stadia requires a connection speed of at least 35Mbps for 4K gaming. BT’s Superfast Fibre 2, which is the most widely available package, averages 67Mbps, which is theoretically sufficient so long as the network does not get bogged down.

The ISP is still rolling out Ultrafast Fibre 100 and Fibre 250, so it is only available in limited areas, but the company claims it is on track to connect to more than 12 million homes by the end of the year. These packages offer speeds between 145Mbps and 300Mbps, with a guarantee to stay above 100Mbps (Fibre 100) or 150Mbps (Fibre 250). BT will refund customers £20 if their connection drops below these thresholds.
The partnership is another step by Google to push its game streaming service into the mainstream. Since launch, it has been adding more games to the service with a promise of more than 120 coming in 2020. It has also been snatching up developers so it can start churning out first-party titles. Its latest acquisition was Typhoon Studios, which is working on Journey to the Savage Planet.
Game streaming still has not proven itself to be a better alternative to owning hardware. However, that is not stopping Google from pouring resources into the platform to get it there.
Editorial credit: Cody Engel via Shutterstock

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Transport Fever 2 review – simple pleasures offer copious fuel for fun | Games – Blog – 10 minute

As Britain returns to a daily commute beset with fare hikes and failing rail companies, there is significant appeal to a game in which you make the trains run on time. In the same way The Sims allows thirtysomething millennials to experience the fantasy of home ownership, so Transport Fever 2 lets you enjoy the thrill of plonking a bullet-train between Brighton and London Victoria.
The concept of the transport sim is nothing new. Video games have been offering virtual train sets since Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon, letting players enjoy locomotive logistics without requiring a shed to store all those model networks. But Transport Fever 2 goes way beyond laying railroads. Everything from planes to pontoons can be deployed to carry commuters and cargo to your chosen destinations.
The broad goal of Transport Fever 2 is to make money by connecting cities to things they need. Any given level will have multiple settlements dotted across the map (given real-life names generated at random), all of which demand differing resources and goods. Let’s say Bolton needs bricks. This requires you to connect a quarry to a brickmaker’s, then link that brickmaker’s to the city. How you approach this is up to you. You could build a sequence of truck depots at each point, then set a bunch of lorries to a cargo route following that line, or you could establish a railway line at the same three points instead.

Transport Fever 2. Photograph: Good Shepard Entertainment
You receive funds for successful deliveries at each point along the line, but each new bit of infrastructure has its own running costs. Trucks are cheap but slow, while trains are initially expensive but faster and carry larger loads. The same goes for transporting people. Airports cost a fortune to build and maintain, but shuttle more passengers to more destinations quicker than a bus route. It’s also worth noting your infrastructure evolves not only in size but across time, with horse-drawn carts and steam trains gradually being replaced by cruise liners and supersonic jets.
The three-part campaign offers set objectives that range from establishing new railroads during the American gold rush to modernising the transport links of Victorian Glasgow. Like Th e Sims or Cities: Skylines, however, Transport Fever 2 is largely about creating your own entertainment in the “free game” mode. The enjoyment stems from seeing cities grow and thrive as your network becomes more complex, finding ways to make routes more efficient, or simply watching the lovingly designed vehicle models follow their routines.

Transport Fever 2 isn’t short of detail but it does lack depth in certain areas. Most of the challenge occurs at the start of a game, with even a single locomotive putting a hefty dent in your bank balance. Yet once you’ve carved out some basic routes, your finances quickly start to self-perpetuate, with no real brakes on your runaway money train.
Transport Fever 2 fails to dig into some of its more interesting new features, such as emissions. Here, the transport routes you create generate pollution over time, slowing city growth in areas with poor air quality. Given the significance of emissions in our own transportation networks, their addition to the game is welcome. But it’s little more than side-system when it should be one of your most pressing concerns. Then again, perhaps letting your private transport conglomerate rake in obscene profits while the world chokes on its exhaust fumes is entirely appropriate.
Transport Fever 2 doesn’t need to be a firebrand vehicle for climate activism, but having such themes inform the systems more closely would give it a little more personality and relevance. As it stands, this is a pleasant if not particularly distinctive game that may provide frustrated commuters with hours of transport therapy.

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Walgreens joins Apple Card’s rewards program to offer 3% Daily Cash on purchases – gpgmail


Apple Card’s rewards program, Daily Cash, is expanding today with the addition of Walgreens. The retailer joins Uber and Uber Eats to become the latest merchant to offer 3% Daily Cash to Apple Card customers who use Apple Pay at checkout. This includes purchases made in both Walgreens and Duane Reade retail stores, as well as on the web at walgreens.com, and in the Walgreens mobile app.

Daily Cash is the Apple Card’s big incentive, as it offers a percentage back on every purchase when cardholders pay with Apple Pay, or when they pay with their titanium Apple Card when Apple Pay isn’t available.

Initially, only purchases made directly with Apple — including at Apple Stores, apple.com, the App Store, the iTunes Store and for Apple services — would qualify for the 3% Daily Cash. Apple Pay purchases earned 2% Daily Cash and those made with the physical card earned 1%.

This Daily Cash is paid out with every qualifying purchase and can be used right away for other Apple Pay purchases. It can also be put towards the Apple Card balance or sent to friends and family through iMessage.

But when the Apple Card launched in August to all customers in the U.S., Apple surprised users by expanding its 3% Daily Cash program to more merchants. Uber and Uber Eats were only the first of “many popular merchants” who would join the program in the months ahead, the company said at the time.

For the merchants, participation in the rewards program means better access to Apple’s sizable customer base, and a way to increase customer loyalty with their own businesses. After all, why not shop Walgreens over CVS, when there’s 3% Daily Cash to be had?

Apple hasn’t yet said what other merchants may be joining the program in the future, but an obvious place to look would be at the big list of Apple Pay merchants who accept Apple Pay in their stores already, as Walgreens does.

 


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Razer’s Upcoming Intel-Powered Switch 13 Will Offer 25W Switchable TDP


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When Intel took the lid off of Ice Lake, we noted that the performance data for the CPU was complex. On the GPU side of things, Ice Lake is a huge leap forward, with substantially higher performance than anything we’ve seen from Intel integrated graphics before. The CPU, however, was a rather mixed bag. When restrained to a 15W TDP, Ice Lake CPUs weren’t necessarily faster than the Coffee Lake chips they are intended to replace and were often somewhat slower. If you give the CPU additional headroom, this problem resolves — but of course, giving the chip more power to play with has a negative impact on heat and battery life.

When Intel invited reviewers to test Ice Lake, the test systems it offered had a toggle switch to flip from 15W to 25W envelopes. That’s how PCMag and other publications were able to test the laptop in both modes, as shown below:

Users don’t usually have this kind of option. TDP ranges are typically pre-defined by the OEM and are not something that the end user can modify, for obvious reasons — cranking up laptop TDP is a good way to overheat the system if you don’t know what you’re doing and if the laptop isn’t specifically designed to run at the higher power level. To the best of our knowledge (until today), no consumer laptop could actually change its TDP values on the fly. At the Ice Lake testing event, Intel told reviewers that the Ice Lake laptops sold at retail wouldn’t have this option, either.

There appears to be at least one exception to this rule, however. The Razer Blade 13 will have an adjustable TDP that can be configured through Razer’s Synapse software. Supposedly this capability has always existed, going back to the original Razer Blade. If this is true, it’s not something the company previously seems to have highlighted — Google doesn’t bring up any results referring to an adjustable TDP on previous versions of the Razer Blade,SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce unless you count the fact that the laptop would down-clock under load in some circumstances. To be clear, the ability to run the CPU in a lower power envelope under load isn’t the same thing as being able to voluntarily put it in a higher TDP mode and operate it with additional power headroom.

Given that Intel had already told reviewers not to expect adjustable TDP ranges as a major laptop feature, this raises the question: Is this specific to Razer, or will we see more laptop manufacturers taking advantage of these new capabilities? Will Intel make adjustable TDPs a feature that high-end customers can shell out for if they want the option?

Razer’s website for the new Blade states that the system will use a 25W Ice Lake CPU, but does not mention anything about the system being adjustable within a 15W versus a 25W power envelope.

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RYU’s line of backpacks offer style and function for exploring the city or weekends away – gpgmail


Yes, it’s Bag Week, where we celebrate all the best bags of the year here at gpgmail. And there is little more satisfying than finding a basic black one that’s functional, stylish and unique. Luckily, Canadian urban athletic apparel maker RYU makes three such bags, and while each one has its own particular appeal depending on what you’re looking for in a backpack, they’re also all winners that elevate the basic black backpack to new heights.

Quick Pack Lux 18L ($185)

RYU’s “just right” offering for me is the Quick Pack Lux 18L capacity bag that’s pretty much perfect as a general-use day pack in terms of cargo space, and that can also serve well for a one or two-night trip, depending on how lightly you pack.

The RYU’s signature feature, and what makes it my favorite day pack in terms of everyday use around the city, is its profile — a silhouette that is made all the better because RYU uses an internal molded shell to ensure that it never flattens down or loses its shape, regardless of how full or empty the bag actually is. This is actually a huge selling point for me, and one that makes the RYU Quick Pack Lux 18L almost certain to become my go-to daily bag. Inside, there are a few pockets, including a laptop sleeve that can fit up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro — another rarity in a day pack this low-profile.

In addition to the integrated frame, the Quick Pack Lux is kitted out with premium materials, like the leather accent patch on the top flap, leather shoulder straps, an outer layer of poly-cotton blend that covers a wax-treated canvas and nylon interior for water resistance and durability. The materials definitely feel premium, though the outermost layer resembles kind of a yoga pant material, and in my house definitely attracts and picks up my dog’s easily shed white hairs with reckless abandon. I’m more than happy to get out the lint roller once and a while as a trade-off for just how good looking the bag is, however.

It wears slightly long, but tight to the back (for reference when sizing up the photos above, I’m 6’2″ and quite a bit of that is torso). The removable chest strap helps keeps the profile pretty seamless, and there’s a handle on top for easy carrying when not on the back.

Another unique feature of the Quick Pack Lux is that it opens from the front, with the flap at the top unbuckling to reveal two zippers that run the length of the bag. Undo these, and you get basically a duffel-style cargo loading method, which is great for arranging your stuff without having to layer or dig down as you would in a top-loading pack.

Locker Pack Lux 24L ($215)

RYU bags 2 Locker Pack 24L 1The Locker Pack Lux 24L is the more spacious version of the Quick Pack Lux, with 6L extra volume for packing your gear. It’s designed more for those overnights or two-day trips, and yet it doesn’t really add that much in the way of bulk if you’re looking for something that can serve flexibly as both day pack and weekender.

The Locker Pack Lux has the same materials combination as the Quick Pack, but is a bit longer and so is probably better suited for taller people. It still offers a very slim profile, and has the same internal structural components, which means it’ll keep its shape, but it has a bit more leeway for expansion, too, letting you pack in a surprising amount of stuff via the front-loading, double zipper stowage and packing flap.

Unlike the Quick Pack Lux, you also get external access to the laptop compartment in the Locker Pack, which gives you an easy way to get at up to a 15-inch notebook. The leather-accented top flap closes down over this compartment, too, to give you some protection against the elements in the case of light showers (RYU also sells a dedicated rain hood separately).

Express Pack 15L ($90)

RYU bags 4 Express Pack 15L

The Express Pack is the smallest of these RYU backpacks in terms of packing volume, but it’s also probably the best option when it comes to an all-around city day pack that will fit you regardless of height and frame. The extremely minimal aesthetic is great for the city, especially with the polyurethane outer coating that wraps a middle canvas layer for the bag’s body.

This is a very lightweight bag, but the internal pocket can actually fit a lot of stuff when needed, and there’s a single woven pocket on one side of the exterior for stowing a water bottle. This adds an asymmetrical look, which is also pretty cool looking. Inside, there’s a zippered mesh block and a fully zippered front pocket for separating your sweaty gym gear, plus a laptop compartment that can fit a full, 15-inch MacBook Pro without issue.

The bag is comfortable to wear, but doesn’t have the internal structure of the other two, so if it’s empty it’ll hug a lot closer to the body. If there’s one thing I’d change about it, it’s the RYU branding — but it does actually recede to being barely visible in less direct lighting, and is more subtle overall than it looks here.

Overall, RYU’s bag lineup is impressive, and offers something for everyone. The Vancouver-based company has done a great job of delivering highly functional designs that also offer great style with pretty much universal appeal. The company also offers non-Lux versions of both the Quick Pack and the Locker Pack, which drop the leather accents and embedded waxed canvas, but which also offer some decent discounts if the prices above strike you as too high.


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SafetyWing raises $3.5M seed to offer medical insurance to ‘digital nomads’ – gpgmail


Former British Prime Minister Theresa May once said “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere”. And while that sentiment would be considered risible by just about anybody who works in today’s outward-looking technology industry, if you are a digital worker of the world, you may well be a worker of no insurance.

That’s the problem that SafetyWing, a startup out of Norway and a recent graduate of Y Combinator, is aiming to solve.

“People used to be limited to working locally. Now the internet and recent technologies have made it possible to hire and work for companies globally, allowing people to live wherever in the world they choose to, free from the physical restraints of an office location,” says SafetyWing co-founder and CEO Sondre Rasch.

“Unfortunately, social safety nets like health insurance are national and only available in one’s home country. Millions are left to figure this out on their own with the majority going uninsured. To solve this problem, we are building the first global social safety net: a welfare state on the internet”.

Launched last year, SafetyWing first product is focussed on medical travel insurance, with the promise to provide medical cover for anybody who works outside of their home country. The cover is flexible, too, sold as a 28 day rolling subscription that can be paused at any time. Cover starts at $37 every 4 weeks.

“Our typical customer is a digital nomad,” explains Rasch, “an entrepreneur, freelancer or remote worker in a startup, early 30s, who has moved from the U.S. and spends 3 months at a time in their favorite low cost countries with good infrastructure. Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, Eastern Europe and Mexico are typical examples”.

On direct competitors, Rasch says there isn’t really anyone else currently building a “social safety net” for digital nomads, although WorldNomads also offers similar travel insurance. “The main difference is that we are made for digital nomads and remote workers specifically,” he claims. “Our product is quite simple in that we offer a subscription-like service that you can buy while you live abroad, and keep it forever”.

Meanwhile, to support its mission of providing a safety net for digital nomads and to develop further products, the 2017-founded company, whose other co-founders are Sarah Sandnes (CTO) and Hans Kjellby (COO), has raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Leading the round is Nordic and Baltic-focussed VC byFounders, with participation from Credit Ease Fintech Fund and DG Incubation. SafetyWing’s previous backers include YC and The Nordic Web Ventures.


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