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Why the 'Small Internet' Movement Wants to Revive Gopher

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 17:34
Long-time Slashdot reader lee1 shares a new article from Linux magazine: The danger and irritations of the modern web have unleashed a movement dedicated to creating a safer and simpler alternative. The old Gopher network and the new Gemini protocol have emerged as building blocks for this new "small Internet." Anyone who has used the World Wide Web (WWW) lately knows that something bad is happening to it. It does not resemble the WWW of the early years, with enthusiastic amateurs freely sharing ideas and information. These things still exist, and the web is still an indispensable medium connecting the world. But the web experience is now encumbered with advertising, invasions of privacy in the form of pervasive tracking, enormous file sizes, CPU straining JavaScript, the danger of exploits, and door slams asking you to subscribe to a newsletter before viewing a site. This unpleasant environment has led to a backlash. There are now some communities of developers and computer users who still desire a connected information system, but who seek a refuge from the noise, danger, and increasingly resource-hungry WWW. They feel that web technology does too much, and that since it makes various forms of abuse too easy, no lasting reform is possible. The solution is to use or create a separate protocol that is simply not capable of supporting the technologies that enable advertising networks, user fingerprinting, or the myriad of other things that exploit users rather than helping them. This small movement has approached the problem from two directions that in practice are often merged: the revival of the Gopher protocol and the creation of a new protocol called Gemini. Gemini would support its own lightweight hypertext format, and would co-exist with Gopher and HTTP as an alternative client-server protocol with built-in privacy-assuring features like mandatory Transport Layer Security and a "Trust On First Use" public-key security model. ("Connections are closed at the end of a single transaction and cannot be reused," notes the Project Gemini home page.) "You may think of Gemini as 'the web, stripped right back to its essence,'" explains its FAQ, "or as 'Gopher, souped up and modernised just a little', depending upon your perspective..." "Gemini is also intended to be very privacy conscious, to be difficult to extend in the future (so that it will *stay* simple and privacy conscious), and to be compatible with a 'do it yourself' computing ethos."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Horizon Zero Dawn PC revisited: is it fully fixed?

Eurogamer - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 16:00

With the announcement of more PlayStation exclusives coming to PC, starting with Days Gone this Spring, the time felt right to return to Horizon Zero Dawn, Sony's first full-blooded attempt at porting one of its most celebrated triple-A masterpieces. On release, performance and the overall quality of the user experience was poor, but six months on there's no doubt about it: the game has dramatically improved. It's not perfect, it's still far from ideal, but Guerrilla Games has taken onboard feedback and corrected many of the issues, while dramatically improving performance in some scenarios.

Even just loading up the game, there are some immediately apparent differences. When the game first released, booting the title at 4K resolution saw Horizon actually internally render at the correct resolution, before downscaling to 1080p, then upscaling back up to 2160p - this is now fixed. The initial shader compilation that took so long back in the day is now carried out in the background, allowing you to visit the settings screen while it's in progress or even start the game (I would recommend letting the shader caching process complete, however). The menus themselves remain much the same, but the various v-sync options now work properly too, without the massive performance drop the borderless windowed mode had when the game launched. Anisotropic filtering? That was broken on release too, requiring a GPU control panel tweak to improve detail, but this now works as it should.

This is basic stuff but it's good to see it fully fixed. The same goes for dynamic resolution scaling: at launch, running at 4K ultra on an RTX 2080 Ti could see a targeted scene operate at 54fps, so DRS should only need to slightly tweak resolution downwards to get us to 60fps - but instead, resolution dropped to 1080p instead (!). You guessed it, it's fixed now, and I would now recommend DRS to be enabled if you're running at a fixed frame-rate like 60fps. AMD's FidelityFX contrast-adaptive sharpening (CAS) is also added to the menu system: it is just a sharpening filter, but I think it is a nice enhancement for those who want to increase contrast when at lower resolutions and using TAA anti-aliasing.

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Categories: Video Games

Wind Replaces Coal As Main Source of Power In Germany

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 15:00
Qbertino writes: Heise.de, a German tech news publisher, reports that wind has replaced coal as the main source of power in Germany. From the report: "The share of renewable energies in the amount of electricity generated and fed into the grid domestically rose from 42.3 percent in 2019 to 47.0 percent last year. At 25.6 percent, wind power was the first renewable energy source to have the highest share of the amount of electricity fed into the grid in a given year, replacing coal as the most important energy source. In 2020, 5.4 percent more electricity was generated from wind power than in 2019, when the share had been 22.8 percent..." (Sidenote: Paragraph translated by deepL in seconds; [I] find it quite feasible as a German and English native speaker. Color me impressed.) This is not much to brag about yet because Coal is still buffering large parts of the nuclear fission exit Germany is doing, but it's a good milestone. By and large, the article concludes that Germany's exit from nuclear fission is going in the right direction.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Call of Duty: Warzone squad sets new world record with an astonishing 162 kills in a single game

Eurogamer - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 14:47

A Call of Duty: Warzone squad has set a new world record with an astonishing 162 kills in a single game.

The squad, led by 21-year-old American Warzone streamer Aydan "Aydan" Conrad, achieved the astonishing feat in a 2v2 $500 kill race wager match. Here, a squad of four divides itself into two to see which duo can score the most kills in a single game.

Smashing the previous quads world record of 143, Aydan and co tear up Verdansk at a frightening pace, starting off with a kill using a helicopter's blades. After snagging his loadout, Aydan uses his fearsome AUG and FFAR 1 combo to hunt down pretty much every player on the map with brutal efficiency.

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Categories: Video Games

Bungie on Destiny 2's 12-player raid hype: "we're glad you're enjoying yourselves"

Eurogamer - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 13:28

Bungie has responded to Destiny 2's wonderful 12-player raid glitch, telling players to have their fun while it lasts.

Writing on Bungie.net, community chief Chris 'Cozmo' Shannon said the developer was in no rush to fix the bug, which Destiny 2 players have been enjoying in recent weeks.

Destiny raids are normally capped at six players - and indeed are designed for six players, although you can play them with fewer guardians.

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Categories: Video Games

The Division 2 to get a game mode entirely new to the franchise late 2021

Eurogamer - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 12:44

The Division 2 will get a game mode entirely new to the franchise in its next major update, currently slated for late 2021.

Ubisoft Massive said it's also looking at new ways for players to progress their agent "with an emphasis on increasing build variety and viability".

This new update is still in the early stages of development, Ubisoft Massive cautioned, and will take several months to complete. So, it's due out late 2021 at the earliest. "We will be taking this time to make sure we bring a meaningful change to the game," Ubisoft Massive said in a blog post.

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Categories: Video Games

GAME owner Mike Ashley hits out at "near worthless support package" for retailers

Eurogamer - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 12:13

GAME owner Mike Ashley has hit out at what he calls the "near worthless support package" for retailers unveiled by the government this week - and warned of possible store closures as a result.

In a statement issued to the London Stock Exchange, Frasers Group, which wholly owns GAME, slammed the business rates relief announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of the budget this week.

The rates holiday for non-essential retailers in England ends in June 2021. This means that from the start of July, business rates, which are taxes on properties used for commercial purposes, will be discounted by two-thirds for nine months - up to a maximum of £2m if businesses are closed.

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Categories: Video Games

Visual Studio Code Now Runs Natively On M1 Macs

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 12:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Microsoft has released a new version of source-code editor Visual Studio Code that runs natively on Apple Silicon Macs like the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini models with Apple M1 chips. The change came in Visual Studio Code 1.54 (now 1.54.1, thanks to a bug fix update), which is available as a universal 64-bit binary, as is standard for apps with Apple Silicon support. That said, Microsoft also offers downloads for x86-64 and Arm64 versions specifically, if desired. There are no differences in features between the two versions, of course. And the non-Apple Silicon version worked just fine on M1 Macs previously via Rosetta, but Microsoft says M1 users can expect a few optimizations with the new binaries: "We are happy to announce our first release of stable Apple Silicon builds this iteration. Users on Macs with M1 chips can now use VS Code without emulation with Rosetta, and will notice better performance and longer battery life when running VS Code. Thanks to the community for self-hosting with the Insiders build and reporting issues early in the iteration." Other key features in Visual Studio Code 1.54 include the ability to retain terminal processes on window reload, performance improvements in the Windows version, product icon themes, improvements when viewing Git history timeline entries, and various accessibility improvements.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The joy of treating demos like a finished game

Eurogamer - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 10:00

There are many worlds in Jay Weston's Exo One, but I'm not sure I want to leave the one you explore in the game's Steam demo. I love hurtling towards its whirling horizon so much I would hate to actually cross it. If you've yet to have the pleasure, Exo One is a scifi-me-do of monolithic abstraction and giddy kinesis, like a pinball table built by the aliens from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It puts you in charge of a gleaming craft that can tumble over planets as a silver orb or squash itself into a flying disc, generating energy for movement from surface friction.

The demo gives you 10 minutes to revel in all this, and much as I'm tantalised by the planets that await, I do wonder whether its timed fade-to-black is a more appropriate ending than any the final game might provide. Exo One, you see, is a story of first contact. One of its planets is named for the astronomer Carl Sagan, who spent his career devising messages to the stars or hypothesising about conditions for life on other planets (the game's rushing perspectives, always plunging toward and through some celestial object, also recall the voyages of Sagan's celebrated Cosmos TV documentaries). Given the enormity and longevity of the universe, it's extremely unlikely that our species will encounter another star-faring civilisation before we're eaten alive by our sun or our own excesses. A fade-to-black is, sorry to say, the more likely outcome.

But perhaps I don't need to be quite this high-faluting. Perhaps the source of the demo's enchantment isn't that accidentally poignant resolution but a quality all demos share - the unspoken invitation to get as much as you can out of something incomplete and disposable. There are many ways to replay Exo One's demo. You can treat it as a time trial, of course, coaxing every last inch of airtime out of every rise, throwing yourself into driving rain. Or you can dial back your need for speed and turn it into an endlessly recurring final act of wandering and contemplation, comparable to Ko-Op Mode's Orchids To Dusk. You might slow to watch sunlight bronze the dunes and listen to the crackle of dirt under chrome. You can trace patterns in the clouds, particularly the shapes revealed by lightning flashes, instead of powering through them. And then there are those huge, geometric structures that burst from the sand - the usual alien relics, or something even more obscure? These are things you can puzzle over in the full game, of course, but as always in demos, your awareness of being deliberately hemmed in is a powerful goad.

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Categories: Video Games

'Gravity Portals' Could Morph Dark Matter Into Ordinary Matter

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 09:00
fahrbot-bot shares a report from Live Science: Astrophysicists have an idea that could help to solve two mysteries: the reason for the bizarre abundance of super-high-energy radiation shooting from the center of our galaxy and the identity of invisible stuff called dark matter that has perplexed the world since its discovery some 50 years ago. And the idea has a super-cool name: gravity portals. The idea goes, when two dark matter particles (whatever they are) get sucked into one of these portals, they obliterate each other and spit out shockingly strong gamma rays. This line of thinking can potentially explain why the galactic center -- where dense clusters of dark matter are thought to lurk -- is full of gamma rays; and it could shed light on how the dark matter behaves and might occasionally interact with the normal matter of our universe. The study has been published to arXiv, but has yet to be peer-reviewed.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Reddit Hires CFO As It Considers IPO

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Reddit, the social network and online bulletin, said on Thursday that it had appointed its first chief financial officer, Drew Vollero, in a move toward tidying up the company's books before an eventual public offering of its stock. Mr. Vollero, 55, previously ran financial operations for Mattel, Snap and Allied Universal. His task at Reddit will be building out the financial, audit and accounting functions and leading the company through the process of going public. "Is Reddit going public?" Steve Huffman, Reddit's chief executive, said in an interview. "We're thinking about it. We're working toward that moment." Mr. Huffman said Reddit did not have a timeline, but Mr. Vollero's appointment indicated that the 15-year-old company was developing its financial operations to be more similar to those of publicly traded peers like Twitter and Facebook. More than 52 million people visit Reddit every day, and it is home to more than 100,000 topic-based communities, or subforums. Reddit has also added to its executive ranks in recent months, hiring a head of security and appointing a new member to its board. In December, the company acquired Dubsmash, a video-focused social app that competes with TikTok. Last month, Reddit raised $250 million in new capital, its largest venture round, valuing the company at $6 billion. Reddit plans to use the funding to expand its business, including its financial team, Mr. Huffman said. He also wants to make Reddit more mainstream by improving the product or making other investments, he said.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

CDC Study Says On-Premises Dining Linked To COVID-19 Spread

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 04:02
Thelasko shares a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NPR reports on the key findings: As several states face criticism for lifting coronavirus-related public health restrictions, a study published Friday confirms that state-imposed mask mandates and on-premises dining restrictions help slow the spread of COVID-19. The study, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at the impact of state-issued mask mandates and on-premises dining on county-level COVID-19 cases and deaths between March 1 and Dec. 31. It found that mask mandates were associated with "statistically significant" decreases in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days of implementation. In contrast, allowing on-premises dining was associated with an increase in daily cases 41 to 100 days after reopening, and an increase in daily death growth rates after 61 to 100 days. "Policies that require universal mask use and restrict any on-premises restaurant dining are important components of a comprehensive strategy to reduce exposure to and transmission of SARS-CoV-2," the study authors wrote. "Such efforts are increasingly important given the emergence of highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants in the United States." The study says its analysis did not differentiate between indoor and outdoor dining.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Tesla Share Price Plunge Knocks $267 Billion Off Market Value

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 03:25
A sharp decline in Tesla's share price has wiped more than $250 billion off the value of the electric car company, and dragged down the value of an Edinburgh-based investment fund that is one of Tesla's biggest backers. The Guardian reports: The shares dropped by 7.5% in early trading in the U.S. on Friday to $575 -- setting them on course to close down 16% this week and 35% below their record peak of $883 on 26 January. The decline has knocked $267 billion off Tesla's market value, from $834 billion in January to about $567 billion. The collapse has also wiped billions from fortune of Elon Musk, the chief executive, who owns about 20% of the shares. Musk, who lost his briefly held title of the world's richest person last month, has seen his paper fortune drop by $7.5 billion so far this year to an estimated $162 billion. Analysts said Tesla's shares were falling as investors worried that the car company may be vastly overvalued. At the same time rising US bond yields are making companies that pay small dividends unappealing. Tesla has never paid a dividend.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Twitter Is Testing An 'Undo' Option After Sending Tweets

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 02:45
Twitter is working on a feature that could offer users a short window of time to rethink posting a tweet even after they hit send. CNN reports: The company confirmed to CNN Business on Friday it is testing an undo option that would potentially let users retract or correct a tweet before it's officially posted on the platform. The feature was discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, an app developer who has a strong track record of uncovering new tools on social networks before they're released. Wong posted a GIF on Twitter that shows a blue "undo" bar appearing beneath the words "Your Tweet was sent." (It's possible the feature could change before it formally rolls out -- if it ever does.) It's not quite the edit button users have long requested, but it's a step toward helping users proactively catch errors and slow down before sending impulse tweets.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

At Least 30,000 US Organizations Newly Hacked Via Holes In Microsoft's Email Software

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 02:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Krebs On Security: At least 30,000 organizations across the United States -- including a significant number of small businesses, towns, cities and local governments -- have over the past few days been hacked by an unusually aggressive Chinese cyber espionage unit that's focused on stealing email from victim organizations, multiple sources tell KrebsOnSecurity. The espionage group is exploiting four newly-discovered flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server email software, and has seeded hundreds of thousands of victim organizations worldwide with tools that give the attackers total, remote control over affected systems. In each incident, the intruders have left behind a "web shell," an easy-to-use, password-protected hacking tool that can be accessed over the Internet from any browser that gives the attackers administrative access to the victim's computer servers. Speaking on condition of anonymity, two cybersecurity experts who've briefed U.S. national security advisors on the attack told KrebsOnSecurity the Chinese hacking group thought to be responsible has seized control over "hundreds of thousands" of Microsoft Exchange Servers worldwide -- with each victim system representing approximately one organization that uses Exchange to process email. Microsoft said the Exchange flaws are being targeted by a previously unidentified Chinese hacking crew it dubbed "Hafnium," and said the group had been conducting targeted attacks on email systems used by a range of industry sectors, including infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks, and NGOs. Microsoft's initial advisory about the Exchange flaws credited Reston, Va. based Volexity for reporting the vulnerabilities. "We've worked on dozens of cases so far where web shells were put on the victim system back on Feb. 28 [before Microsoft announced its patches], all the way up to today," Volexity President Steven Adair said. "Even if you patched the same day Microsoft published its patches, there's still a high chance there is a web shell on your server. The truth is, if you're running Exchange and you haven't patched this yet, there's a very high chance that your organization is already compromised." A Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement: "The best protection is to apply updates as soon as possible across all impacted systems. We continue to help customers by providing additional investigation and mitigation guidance. Impacted customers should contact our support teams for additional help and resources."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Vertical Tabs, Startup Boost, and More Will Roll Out To Edge This Month

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 01:20
Several new features are on the way to Microsoft Edge this month, including vertical tabs, startup boost, and modern Microsoft Bing search experiences. The new features were recently shown off by Microsoft in a recent blog post. Windows Central reports: First up is vertical tabs. This feature allows you to move the tabs from across the top of your browser over to the side. The feature lets you see more of your tabs at once. We recently saw the option to resize vertical tabs in Microsoft Edge Canary, but it is now rolling out to Dev too. Next, are Microsoft's new Bing search experiences. Microsoft's new experiences help you see the information that you'd like without having to click around and fish through content as much. For example, when searching for a recipe, the new recipe experience will show ingredient lists, substitutions, and more information just by hovering over a search result. The experience will also play any video if you hover over a result. There are similar new experiences for other content, like DIY projects and gardening. Microsoft also announced improvements to how it aggregates information for topics you search. Lastly, startup boost is a new feature that should cut down how long it takes Edge to launch after you reboot your PC. The feature will roll out this month, and Microsoft says that it will cut down launch times by between 29% -- 41%.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Sidewalk Robots Get Legal Rights As 'Pedestrians'

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 00:40
States like Pennsylvania, Virginia, Idaho, Florida and Wisconsin have granted sidewalk robots legal rights as "pedestrians." Axios reports: In Pennsylvania, robot "pedestrians" can weigh up to 550 pounds and drive up to 12 mph. "Opposition has largely come from pedestrian and accessibility advocates, as well as labor unions like the Teamsters," per the Pittsburgh City Paper. The laws are a boon to Amazon's Scout delivery robot and FedEx's Roxo, which are being tested in urban and suburban settings. "Backers say the laws will usher in a future where household items show up in a matter of hours, with fewer idling delivery vans blocking traffic and spewing emissions," per Wired. Some technology evangelists think these laws are a spectacularly bad idea. The National Association of City Transportation Officials -- NACTO -- says the robots "should be severely restricted if not banned outright." "Uncoordinated autonomous delivery services could flood sidewalks with bots, making walking increasingly difficult and unpleasant," NACTO says in a report. "Drone delivery could significantly increase noise pollution and add a new dimension of chaos to urban streets."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

US Blacklisted China's Xiaomi Because of Award Given To Its Founder

Slashdot - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 00:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: U.S. officials blacklisted Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp. as a company with military ties partly due to an award given to the company's founder for his service to the state, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a legal filing. Lei Jun, the chief executive officer and founder of Xiaomi, received the award of "Outstanding Builder of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" in 2019 from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Xiaomi touts the award -- given to 100 Chinese executives that year -- on Mr. Lei's biography page on the company's website and in its annual report. The award -- coupled with Xiaomi's ambitious investment plans in advanced technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence -- was enough for the Defense Department in January to add Xiaomi to a list of companies that support China's military, according to the filing. The designation prohibits Americans from investing in the company, the world's third-largest smartphone seller. The U.S. rationale for adding Xiaomi to its list was laid out in a court filing by the Defense Department in response to a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by the Chinese company seeking to overturn the military designation. The filing, which appeared last week but hasn't previously been reported, for the first time shed light on the department's reasoning in adding a company to the list.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Microsoft Exchange Server Vulnerabilities Mitigations – updated March 6, 2021

Microsoft Security Response Blog - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 00:01
Microsoft previously blogged our strong recommendation that customers upgrade their on-premises Exchange environments to the latest supported version. For customers that are not able to quickly apply updates, we are providing the following alternative mitigation techniques to help Microsoft Exchange customers who need more time to patch their deployments and are willing to make risk …

Microsoft Exchange Server Vulnerabilities Mitigations – updated March 6, 2021 Read More »

Categories: IT

Binding of Isaac dev's Legend of Bum-bo gets free The Lost expansion

Eurogamer - Sat, 06/03/2021 - 00:00

Binding of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen's poopy puzzle-based deck-builder The Legend of Bum-bo has just received a free expansion, introducing a raft of new content alongside some much needed fixes and quality of life improvements.

Although ostensibly a prequel to The Binding of Isaac, Bum-bo is a notably different proposition, building its randomised dungeon-crawling action around turn-based combat with a match-4-style puzzle system at its core.

Unfortunately, despite some solid design and eye-catching presentation, Bum-bo arrived in a bit of a state when it released in 2019, and plenty of issue still lingered when, shortly after release, McMillen went radio silent for almost a year.

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