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A Satisfying Challenge: The World’s Toughest Games

It’s easy to see the appeal of gaming. While video games and eSports are part of the modern entertainment industry, games have been around for millennia. Ancient Egyptians in higher social statuses would have spent time playing Senet, while their contemporaries in Ancient Babylonia would have preferred the Royal Game of Ur.

These games both involved rolling the dice and advancing across a board. The Egyptian Senet was a bit more focused on spirituality and the afterlife, while the Royal Game of Ur was used more squarely as a military campaign game. Fast forward to today and these types of games remain popular. Henry Cavill, for example, is busy working on a Warhammer 40,000 adaptation, attempting to flip the tabletop war game into a Hollywood-calibre script.

The appeal of gaming across the ages has remained largely the same: players seek to win, have fun, and push their analytical skills to new levels. But some games, both digital and analog, make it more of a sport to win. Rather than unwinding, these titles are focused on challenging the mind.

Poker

Poker is one of the most ubiquitous card games in the world. Players today can gather virtually to compete with one another in online home games, compete in tournaments, and even advance to in-person events. But casual players who want to go pro must have incredible strategic chops, a lengthy understanding of how to read opponents and the table, and an ability to remain in control of their emotions.

Players who succeed in one avenue often struggle in another. For example, a pro player like Phill Hellmuth has displayed incredible analytical and tactical knowledge in his games, helping earn him a reputation as a top player. But it’s his emotional tilts that have prevented him from staying at the top of the player field over time.

Go

Staying in analog, let’s cover another storied game. Go is much older than poker, believed to be played first around the 5th century BCE. This makes it the oldest continuously played board game in the world. It was originally developed to help teach nobility in Ancient China deduction and critical thinking skills.

Players must surround enemy pieces on a gridded board. The challenge in this game lies in its complexity and dynamism. There isn’t one way to win—in fact, there are almost infinite ways to enact a winning strategy. Games tend to go on for longer and with a greater scope of play than comparable titles like chess.

Elden Ring

Let’s shift far away from board games like Go and card games like poker. Elden Ring is a 2022 RPG, open-world game that builds off the Demon’s Soul franchise before it. Though RPGs like this dark, combat game are popular, Elden Ring takes things in a purposefully difficult (if not outright masochistic) direction.

Players must develop combat skills and build a weapons repertoire quickly if they want to defeat even basic-level enemies. Though there are plenty of combat options to choose from, the game very quickly advances into expert territory. For example, players must even learn which opponents they can’t defeat and must instead learn to avoid at all costs.

Cuphead & Super Meat Boy

To finish off this list, let’s cover two video games that offer the same challenge. Super Meat Boy (2010) and Cuphead (2017) are side-scrolling games that require players to move at lightning speed. Super Meat Boy is a darker, dungeon-based adventure that sees one character, Meat Boy, attempt to save his beloved Bandage Girl. In Cuphead, players must collect souls for the devil, having already sold their soul to do his dark bidding.

Kitschy premises (and unique graphic approaches) aside, both games require players to move at lightning speed to advance. In Cuphead, they’ll also need to kick butt in a few boss battles. But the core challenge remains the same: move faster at every single level or be obliterated by a brand new set of obstacles. Though players have infinite lives to continue the journey, not everyone is able to keep up the pace.

Google lies, the lying bastards

Export a report
To export a report:

Open the report you’d like to export. Analytics exports the report as it is currently displayed on your screen, so make sure that you’ve applied your desired date range and report settings.

No, no it doesn’t.

Clicking on the download report gets this:

That’s the level up from what my page is showing, that’s the site, not the subset I’m interested in.

Lying bastards, eh?

Seems a slightly stiff price here

Via email:

Just to let you know, that your Unlimited World 12 months* subscription expires in 3 days.

Extend your subscription today for current cost of EUR131.61/month to stay in touch with friends and family using your Skype subscription.

131 a month? Think I might just use the occasional 10 EUR top up method…..

No

Tim Cook unveils $3,500 Vision Pro headset in Apple’s most significant launch since iPhone

Really, just no.

OK, so what do I know etc? But wrong price point. As with anything that requires content to make it work as an environment it needs to be cheap to create the incentives to produce the content.

She’s not got that addled, has she?

TikTok’s inane videos are “eroding ambition and motivation” in Western teenagers, the president of the British Chambers of Commerce has claimed.

Baroness Martha Lane Fox, who is also a former Twitter board member and co-founder of Lastminute.com, said the video sharing app was bombarding young people with addictive content and keeping them glued to their phones.

The peer claimed TikTok was purposefully feeding Western teenagers “dumbed down” content while presenting Chinese young people with videos about “maths, science and the brilliance of going into space and invention”.

Hmm, maybe she has. No doubt we should have a wholemal, British made, version. The Austin Allegra version perhaps?

Unconvinced about this

ChatGPT can beat the stock market, professor claims

Really unconvinced:

Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots may be able to correctly predict the movement of stock prices by instantly analysing news headlines, research has claimed.

Experts from the University of Florida analysed the accuracy of ChatGPT, an AI algorithm, at guessing whether a news item would send the price of a share higher or lower.

The researchers found the bot was, in many cases, better at gauging whether a story might move the price than other “sentiment analysis” tools used by financial analysts.

The research, which has not been peer reviewed, compared ChatGPT’s answers about various headlines to real share price movements from historical data.

On historical data, maybe. But LLMs are only useful up to the end of their training period. So to work on current data that means the training period must be current…..

Any clever webbie people out there? Yahoo! News inclusion possibilities

So, we’ve got a finance news thing going. Being published by a real newspaper too. Stock market pieces, based, a bit, on what you might find in a newspaper stock market page really.

So, what’s the process of trying to get this picked up and included in the Yahoo News package? Not, how do I get a press release published by Yahoo, but anyone know how to get them to consider the site as a source for their news operation?

They’re asking what?

Top scientists on Monday urged Rishi Sunak to invest $600m in building a new supercomputer capable of training up advanced artificial intelligence programmes.

Sorry?

These machines are necessary to train the complicated programs needed for artificial intelligence tools, such as ChatGPT, which was developed by Silicon Valley start-up OpenAI. These chatbots need huge amounts of computer power when being developed.

But that’s not what Chat GPT does. They want more computing they go rent some more computer time off Amazon or Google.

You don’t need – nor want actually – more shiny shiny kit to make AIs. You want more time. So, rent the time not buy the shiny shiny.

Eh?

The “Chinese technological iron grip” of TikTok risks leaving musicians with a raw deal on royalties, Britain’s former tech minister has warned.

Damian Collins accused the wildly popular social media app of trying to cut artists out of the equation by blocking users’ access to music on the platform.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has been carrying out a trial in Australia that limits the number of songs users can use in their videos.

The move forms part of efforts by TikTok to prove that music is not crucial to the app’s success, amid a clash with record labels over royalties.

But Mr Collins, who was tech minister between July and October last year, said TikTok’s test was “silencing creators in favour of its own self-interests”.

The Tory MP accused TikTok of “degrading” the music experience for users and said artists and songwriters were getting little in return for their contributions towards the success of the app.

“We cannot quietly stand by and let ByteDance and TikTok stifle our world-leading creative sector with their Chinese technological iron grip while enriching themselves from it at the same time,” he said.

“This suffocation of creative and commercial freedom must not be allowed to go any further – it must not be allowed to happen here in the UK.”

What in buggery is the man talking about?

So, TikTok is being shouted at/sued over royalties. So, it’s testing whether music is a necessary part of the experience so that all can work out what the royalties should be. How can anyone decide what royalties should be without knowing how important the music part is?

Collins seems to be taking the newspaper against Google News line. Not only must they carry our stuff but they must also pay us lots of money for doing so.

No, doesn’t work that way.

What, again?

Microsoft has sought to revive its ambitions of challenging Google’s search engine dominance in a deal with an artificial intelligence robot backed by Elon Musk.

The Silicon Valley company behind Windows and Office software is working with OpenAI, an AI company, on its ChatGPT software that has taken the technology world by storm.

The chatbot is able to provide human-like answers to questions and problems, akin to Amazon’s Alexa, presenting a potential rival to Google’s search tools.

Microsoft does seem to be making the same mistake again. Thinking that it’s the interface to search which is important, the manner of interrogation.

When, well for some users at least, it’s the answers themselves that matter, not the form of the delivery?

Squirrel-torturing?

Prompted by a post by everyone’s favourite Portugal-based squirrel-torturing blogger, Tim Worstall, I thought I’d dive into the practical implications of all the (frankly, horrendous) technical, security and privacy problems that Twitter was identified as having before Elon Musk rocked up as owner and CEO.

Hmm.

However, this bloke is senior in the industry, knows his onions – must do, he used to drink in the right pub in Bath. What more can I say?

OK, so the metaverse is going to fail then

From a PR email:

Last month, Forbes members got a first look at our first-ever metaverse experience, an event in a multi-level space that blended the real with the virtual.
Now, we’re opening up the metaverse experience to all our loyal readers. Sign up for this one-of-a-kind experience, where you’ll get to:

Embark on a quest through our metaverse property, where you can find a DJ booth, a bar, a dance floor and more.

When it’s Forbes which is down wiv’ da kids and groovin’ to da new technological beat – yeah, it’s not gonna work.

The thing I’m wondering about is, umm, well, why?

Facebook faces the threat of being blocked across the European Union unless it radically overhauls how it handles data in Europe.

Irish regulators have provisionally ruled the social media site can no longer send European users’ data to the US, forcing it to either set up local data centres or stop operating until the issue is resolved.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has told Facebook its current set-up breaches GDPR rules, the EU laws governing how companies can use customer data. The decision is currently in draft status and Facebook now has four weeks to raise any protests.

This has all been going on for years of course and it’s always greatly puzzled me.

Why does anyone care? That’s something I’ve never really grapsed.

Not wholly, no

Historically, there have been three great peaks: in 1929, 2000, and a third that reached its high last December. For Jainz, that process of reversion is now well underway. Inflation causes interest rates to rise, which then wreck the delicate fiction of a young technology company’s discounted cash flow (DCF) model, on which its valuations are based. Rising interest rates mean future earnings don’t look quite so rosy.

It means that $100 in the future is worth even less today than it was with lower interest rates. It’s not that the projections look less rosy, it’s that they’re simply worth less.

Another of Son’s big bets, Klarna, now looks like the biggest potential casualty of the crash. To critics it is little more than a payday loans operation, only one tapping into a market of borrowers the credit market spurned, for the very good reason they make rather bad debtors: impulsive Gen Z-ers. Klarna is racing to an IPO as its valuation crumbles.

Well, yes, the grand secret of banking. There’s no shortage of money to lend, nor of people to lend money to. There’s a shortage of people it’s worth lending money to though…..

Now, which of these is more important to Tim Cook?

The world is facing a pivotal moment in the battle for online privacy as a scramble to collect users’ data risks making society “less innovative and less human”, the chief executive of Apple has said.

Tim Cook warned that tech firms and governments have a “profound responsibility” to protect users from “data-hungry companies” that are determined to take their information without permission.

He also urged regulators to halt attempts to let users sidestep Apple’s privacy and security rules by downloading third-party apps through a process known as “sideloading”.

Which is the appealing to common fashion, which the protection of business revenues? And why do both at the same time? To appeal to common fashion in order to protect business revenues, obviously.

Ad tech needs refining

So, new ad platform, sends me an email asking if I want to join up. I’d make €1,000 a month, I would!

Your site seems like a good match and has great trafic so I decided to reach out. Do you want to discuss it for wokingham.gov.uk?

That ad tech might need a little refining…..

Tech folks

Anyone got a pointer to a good primer on SEO? Some work I’m doing would definitely benefit from guidance on this. Something better than Google’s own “write good articles and they will come” stuff. How many times to repeat a keyword, where, all that? Possibly even something aimed at Google News, not just the main engine?

Oh, and obviously, it needs to be fairly up to date, a recent version of what the engine does today?

Just a thought

Apparently Chrome will now make a QR code of a page. I assume, but don’t know, that this means that taking a pic of the code then takes you to the page?

At which point, a QR code of goatse. To then plaster over the displayed QR codes of folks you don’t like.

Y/N?

OK, maybe not then. But that’s the sort of mischief which can’t possibly be original. So, where are those reports of folk littering fake QR codes around?

Of course

Britain will seek to regulate the rise of the metaverse popularised by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook under its flagship Online Safety Bill, the UK’s digital minister has confirmed.

Facebook, which rebranded as Meta in November, and dozens of other companies have claimed that breakthroughs in virtual reality mean that a seamless blending of the virtual world and the real world is just years away.

Chris Philp, the UK’s digital minister, said metaverse companies would fall under its plans to tackle online harms and bring regulation to Big Tech firms.

How could this not happen? After all, all those clever people can’t just be left to get on with it. They wouldn’t know what to do, would they?

Quite, quite, someone who knows absolutely nothing at all about the subject under discussion should tell them what to do.