Kim Bjørn and his company Bjooks have made quite a name for themselves over the last couple of years with large, glossy and nerdy tomes dedicated to the finer points of synth patching, instrument interface design and guitar pedals. (I personally own Pedal Crush and can attest to its awesomeness.) Now the Kickstarter darling is joining forces with Moog for Patch and Tweak with Moog, a book dedicated to tips, tricks and ideas for the semi-modular Mother family — including the Mother 32, DFAM, Subharmonicon, Grandmother and Matriarch.
The 200 page coffee table book is filled with synth history and an inside look at the Moog factory. But more importantly, it’s loaded with interviews with artists at all stages of their career and even Moog employees who offer their favorite patching ideas. Icons like Suzanne Ciani and Trent Reznor offer tips as do Stranger Things composers Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, and keyboard shredding extraordinaire Lisa Bella Donna. There’s even an introduction written by Hanz Zimmer, one of the most important film composers of our time.
Roku’s Streambar is a compact soundbar with built-in streaming smarts
A year after Roku announced its Smart Soundbar, the company is back with the Streambar, which combines a compact soundbar with a 4K / HDR streaming device. It’s compatible with all the apps and services you’d expect from Roku, and it combines this with four full-range speaker drivers to fill your living room with stereo audio. The soundbar was announced today alongside the updated Roku Ultra streaming box, which now supports Dolby Vision. The Streambar will retail for $129.99 (£129) and ships in mid-October.
The big difference between the Streambar and Roku’s previous Smart Soundbar is size. While the original soundbar was over 32 inches long, the new Streambar is under half that at 14 inches. Its smaller size should make it easier to fit into smaller living rooms or alongside bedroom TVs.
Otherwise, the Streambar’s specs are broadly similar to the Smart Soundbar. It connects to your TV via HDMI ARC or optical audio, and it has a Bluetooth receiver and support for Spotify Connect if you want to stream music. There’s also a USB port on its back if you want to plug in a USB stick or external hard drive to play content locally, and this port can also be used for Ethernet with an adapter. If you’re in the US, then like the Smart Soundbar, you can pair it with Roku’s wireless speakers and subwoofer to give yourself a surround sound setup.
Also like the Smart Soundbar, the Streambar includes software audio features for a couple of different use cases. There’s one that makes speech easier to hear and another that levels out the volume across the content you watch to reduce the volume of loud commercials. There’s also a night mode so you can hear the TV without waking others in the house. All of this is controlled with an included Roku voice remote.
The Streambar supports up to 4K content and HDR via the HDR10 and HLG standards. Audio formats supported include PCM and Dolby Audio. Support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos aren’t included here but can be found in the new Roku Ultra. The Streambar integrates with Alexa, Google Assistant, and will be one of Roku’s devices that’s getting HomeKit and AirPlay 2 support.
The Streambar will be available in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the UK and is available to preorder starting today.
Crusader Kings 3 patch fixes witchcraft, just in time for Halloween
There’s a new set of patch notes out today for Crusader Kings 3, the extraordinary strategy role-playing game from Paradox Interactive. The 1.1 patch goes live on Tuesday, and with more than 15,000 words of explanation — roughly 34 single-spaced pages — it’s a doozy. There are literally hundreds of fixes large and small on the way, including a very timely update for anyone interested in witchcraft.
When Crusader Kings 3 launched on Sept. 1, players were delighted that their characters could indulge in witchcraft. More importantly, players could even grow a coven of witches by converting other characters in close proximity. But a bug prevented players from holding a Grand Rite — a magical event that would preternaturally boost their skills, giving them super-human abilities. The only way to activate a Grand Rite, in fact, was to use the game’s debug mode, effectively cheating. It’s finally fixed in Tuesday’s patch.
If you’re an avid Crusader Kings 3 player, there’s a lot to digest. Perhaps the biggest change is in how the game’s artificial intelligence will behave during combat. Going to war isn’t a huge focus of the game, certainly not compared to a game like Europa Universalis 4. Nonetheless, from the tone of these notes it seems that Paradox realizes that its AI was a bit … simple, shall we say. Here’s just a sample of what’s changing:
— Informed the AI of the existence of the player when it is trying to spread out to avoid attrition
— Informed the AI that if it has nothing else to do in a war, it might as well defend the wargoal
— Sternly told the AI that when it’s trying to support the player, it shouldn’t try to retreat just because the enemy is coming right at it (except if it hasn’t yet arrived at the player’s location)
— Taught the AI how to count. It will now when deciding whether to raise its troops consider all its troops, not just its levies. So it won’t refrain from raising its troops just because its levies alone would be pointless to raise
— Told the AI it might as well support the player if there’s no enemies around as long as there’s enemies *somewhere*, rather than running off on its own to go siege something
— Told the AI that considering the threat of enemies when you’re at sea makes some sense even if they can’t get to you while you remain at sea
— Told the AI that counting the player’s enemies twice if they’re movement locked and trying to decide if the player needs help or not might lead to some silly decisions
— Told the AI that hunting down enemy armies in enemy territory is a good idea if it is safe to do so, even if it is currently in a defensive mode
— Told the AI that it is a good idea to raise more troops when it already has troops raised
— Told the AI that it might actually be a good idea to try to avoid running into enemy units while raiding
For the complete patch notes, be sure to head to the game’s official forums.
Dell updated its 13-inch XPS laptops with 11th-gen Intel CPUs
The Linux-based Developer Edition is pre-loaded with Ubuntu 20.04LTS and Dell is targeting a maximum battery life of nearly 19 hours. It also boasts an updated, InfinityEdge FHD+ display. Dell hasn’t revealed pricing as yet.
The devices will be available in the US and Canada starting on September 30th, with an exception for one variant. Dell will launch an XPS 13 model with a frost machined aluminum finish and an arctic white woven glass palm rest at a later date. The company will start selling all three laptops in some European and Asian countries within the next few weeks.
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