Tag Archives: Tools

Biden has big fears about voting restrictions and finds few tools to deal with it

But next week, when the Senate takes up Democrats’ signature elections bill designed to expand voting access, it will fail. Barring a change of heart among 10 Republicans or certain Democrats dropping their resistance to changing Senate rules, Biden’s legislative agenda on voting and election protections will be dramatically limited.

The White House says it’s using every tool it has to draw attention to restrictive voting laws being passed in GOP-led states across the country, including potential legal challenges. Administration officials say Biden talks about attacks on voting access in all of his major speeches to send a signal not just to voters, but to those in power, that it’s a personal priority. And though the decision to give Vice President Kamala Harris the voting rights portfolio was interpreted as a sign that the White House viewed the issue as intractable, senior officials insist that giving her “convening power” actually demonstrated how seriously they’re taking it.

It’s a broad strategy,” said Cedric Richmond, director of the White House Office of public engagement. “It’s all hands on deck, and we are willing to meet the challenge.”

This coming week, the Senate is expected to vote on their own sweeping set of voting and election reforms, after the House narrowly passed its version earlier this year. Despite the road blocks, the White House isn’t conceding legislative defeat. “Sometimes it’s not the most attractive process,” said Richmond. “It’s the process of crafting legislation, but we’re not waiting on it.”

To build momentum, the White House has turned to Harris. In the past month, the vice president traveled to South Carolina to hold a listening session with local voting rights advocates, and she met with Texas legislators Wednesday to elevate their efforts to beat back a state GOP law restricting voting. Republican legislatures in states across the country are proposing or instituting new barriers to mail voting and are targeting election administrators with criminal penalties in response to false conspiracies of a stolen election spread by former President Donald Trump.

In an effort to combat changes in Republican-led states, the White House has also looked for allies in the private sector.

“We’ve talked to business all over the place,” said Richmond. “We want companies to step up and talk about the importance of a meaningful right to vote.”

Richmond added that the White House is asking corporations “to do whatever they can in their tool box” to not just promote voting but to “shine a light on these laws that are designed to keep people from voting or put obstacles in their place.”

Harris plans to meet with members of the private sector in the future. Though she is headed to Atlanta on Friday to continue the administration’s vaccine push, a senior administration official said “voting will be a piece of that.” Aides say the vice president is focused on building a coalition across the country, including activists and lawmakers, to put pressure on state and local governments.

But the most far-reaching actions of Biden’s administration are unlikely to come from inside the walls of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Instead, the Department of Justice will be central to the president’s battle with states that pass new election laws that restrict access to the ballot.

“Enforcement of the laws that we have, even as we push for more extensive legislative support, is critical,” said Justin Levitt, White House senior policy adviser on democracy and voting rights. Levitt, who worked at the Justice Department in the Obama administration, quickly added that the enforcement decisions “are entirely within” Attorney General Merrick Garland’s hands.

In a speech last week, Garland documented the country’s history of blocking African Americans and people of color from the right to vote, and he pledged to expand the personnel of the department’s Civil Rights Division to enforce existing law. Garland said the DOJ is “scrutinizing” new laws passed by states “to curb voter access” and pledged that the agency would “not hesitate to act” while not explicitly forecasting any litigation.

“Without new federal legislation, the biggest lever the Biden Administration has is [the] DOJ,” said Rick Hasen, an election law professor at the University of California, Irvine. The Justice Department can file suit under the Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act, National Voter Registration Act and other laws “to ensure that federal law protecting voting rights and a fair election process are followed,” he said.

“This is not as good in terms of protecting voting rights as preclearance, killed by the Supreme Court in 2013,” said Hasen, referring to sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that were struck down in a decision known as Shelby v. Holder. “But it is better than nothing.”

Civil rights groups, activists and state legislators don’t fault the White House for the current congressional gridlock. A majority who spoke to POLITICO said the White House was doing everything it can, short of publicly cornering those Democratic senators opposed to changing the Senate filibuster, which requires a 60-vote threshold for most legislation. Biden, himself, has not endorsed the idea of major changes to the filibuster even as progressives push the idea of an exemption specifically for voting and elections legislation.

Democratic activists and civil rights leaders have directed much of their ire and frustration instead toward Congress.

“It is the height of irony at best, insulting in fact, for the Senate to unanimously make a holiday out of what happened in 1865…but then ignoring the racial implications of what’s going on in 2021 with voting,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, referring to congressional action taken this week to make Juneteenth, the date marking the end of slavery in the U.S, a federally-recognized holiday.

Even congressional Democrats say the onus is on them. Asked what impact Biden’s administration could have on shoring up voting protections, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said, “I’m thinking less the Biden presidency than what we do here.”

Kaine said some of his Democratic colleagues “strongly believe” that if changes to elections laws restricting voting stay unchallenged, “they feel pessimistic about their chances in ‘22 or 24.”

This week, Sen.Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) who had been the lone Senate Democratic hold out on the party’s election’s bill, introduced his own proposed reforms. The Senate will vote on the bill next week with changes made to get Manchin’s support. But it will fail without at least ten Republican votes.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn made clear to House Democrats this week that they are committed to passing as much of their elections bill and voting rights reauthorization as possible, multiple House Democratic aides told POLITICO. Democratic leaders think it’s important to have a proposal that can win Democratic support in both chambers, one House source said.

A senior administration official working on voting rights said Wednesday they have not had a chance to look at Manchin’s proposed changes. The White House declined to comment on Thursday.

Despite the hard-math, the White House and most Democratic lawmakers won’t publicly entertain a scenario in which their major pieces of voting and elections legislation will be unable to pass both chambers. And Richmond said the White House isn’t ready to concede that the only way forward would be to eliminate the filibuster.

For now, they’re working on the margins. On Wednesday, Harris met in the Roosevelt Room with 16 of the Texas Democratic legislators who in May walked out of the state Capitol to block passage of a bill that would have restricted voting rights in the state.

The group discussed the Texas bill but also talked with Harris about what the administration and Congress can do on the federal level. Texas lawmakers who attended the meeting said that Harris understood that it needs to be a national effort. Harris did not make promises on anything in her conversation with the Texas Democrats but told them it was a priority.

“Our plan was to come to D.C. to try to kind of ignite the imagination of this country about how bad things are in Texas. That was our moonshot plan,” Texas state representative Gina Hinojosa said after the meeting. “Texas is really ground zero for the GOP voter suppression efforts. And I think that if you’re not in it, and you’re not living it, you don’t understand how bad it is.”

Marianne LeVine contributed reporting.

Author: Laura Barrón-López and Eugene Daniels
This post originally appeared on Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Electronic Arts Hit By Cyber Attack, Hackers Take Source Code And Tools

Electronic Arts

It seems another high-profile video game company has been hacked. This time it is the third-party giant Electronic Arts.

The data breach was originally reported on by VICE Motherboard, which reveals hackers have stolen “a wealth of game source code and related tools” for the Frostbite engine (known for powering games like FIFA).

The hackers say they apparently have “full capability of exploiting” EA services and have supposedly stolen 780GB of data. They’re now attempting to sell it.

An EA spokesperson confirmed the company had been compromised, in a statement to Motherboard:

“We are investigating a recent incident of intrusion into our network where a limited amount of game source code and related tools were stolen”

No player data has been stolen, and there is believed to be no risk to player privacy. EA has also improved its security since the incident and is now working with law enforcement and other experts as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

This breach follows a cyber attack on Capcom last November and one on CD Projekt Red in February of this year. If we hear any developments about this latest one, we’ll be sure to let you know.

This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Tools Up! Garden Party – Episode 2: Tunnel Vision Now Available

The Tools Up! Garden Party DLC is back with its next installment, Episode 2: Tunnel Vision. We’re moving on up through the tree house from the flowery levels of spring to 15 new sizzling summer levels where you’ll face a new extremely messy underground opponent – The Hole Mole.

In addition, Episode 2 brings new tools and mechanics to the game. One of the new tools you’ll get to work with is a pickaxe. With it you’ll be able to create winding paths in your garden and artsy sculptures.

Tools Up! Garden Party - Episode 2: Tunnel Vision

Another new tool, the rake will become your second best friend because it really speeds up the process of preparing soil for planting flowers and cacti! That’s right, this is no humdrum summer vacation!

With all that summer heat you’ll definitely be looking for a way to cool down. With the new water pipe mechanic, a cool dip is just a hop away and it really helps with transporting items (and yourself) faster and more efficiently, around the map.

Tools Up! Garden Party - Episode 2: Tunnel Vision

Not so cool and relaxing, the lava ponds look dangerous, but now, objects can be bounced off them like a springboard. What a great way to toss tools to your friends, right? Just be careful not to burn your pants!

Everything’s not sunshine and flowers for the Hole Mole though. This grumpy underground dweller will try to spoil your summer fun by digging burrows all over the gardens costing you valuable time. Here’s a tip: cover up his holes and he’ll get offended and leave you alone for a moment. But keep an eye out, you never know where he’ll pop up next!

Tools Up! Garden Party - Episode 2: Tunnel Vision

The new summer world of Tools Up! Garden Party is waiting for you, and lots of other new mechanics and tools are waiting for you to discover. And don’t forget, some tasks can be completed in more than one way. Try to find them all! Get gardening renovators!

Tools Up! Garden Party – Episode 2: Tunnel Vision

All in! Games

Tools Up! Garden Party consists of 3 separate episodes that are all available as a Season Pass. Tools Up! Garden Party is back with a summer sizzle in Episode 2: Tunnel Vision! There’s no time for relaxation though, more gardens need some major TLC. Get your sunscreen because things are gonna get hot! The challenge continues with a new, underground opponent who wants to mess up your work. With the Hole Mole popping up all over your garden, you’ll really have to watch your step! With new challenges come new mechanics to make your job easier. Now you can speed things up by transporting items (and yourself) through water pipes and bounce tools off of lava pools! Will the extra time help you beat the clock? There are new mechanics and tools waiting for you to discover—dive into 15 new, summer levels solo or with up to 3 friends and get gardening!
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Tools Up!

All in! Games

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Home renovation has never been so much fun! It is hard, messy work. But you don’t have to work alone in this crazy couch co-op! Join up to three friends, sit down (or not) and start a wild renovation party! Meet a crew of renovators eager to get their job done. But most accidents happen at home: can you work effectively when there’s spilled paint on the floor and a pool of lava around the apartment? Paint walls, tear off wallpapers and follow the blueprints. Lead a building crew and make sure everyone knows their tasks—or don’t cooperate at all. Hear your friends scream in 3, 2, 1… Race against the clock as you renovate the apartments, chase delivery men and earn a star (or maybe even stars) for each level! Complete tasks to unlock more challenging missions. Hint: teamwork is the key. Let Tools Up! show you that simple controls and a Party Mode will party up every party! So grab your controllers and remember the first rule of Tools Up!—work hard and play hard!

Author: Norbert Litwiński, Marketing Manager, All In! Games
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Tools Up! Garden Party – Episode 1: The Tree House Available Now

Welcome to the tree house! It’s spring and time to get gardens back in order. Put on your straw hat, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get to work!

In Tools Up!’s new DLC, Tools Up! Garden Party has tons of new mechanics, tools, and exciting levels waiting for players to uncover through three separate episodes. Each episode will also feature a challenging opponent. In the first episode, keep a look out for a trickster raccoon — you’ll have to beat more than just the clock now! What else is waiting for you in Episode 1?

Tool's Up! DLC

For a good start, grab a shovel in your hand! When you’ve got a bare patch of dirt there’s lots of work to be done. Better get a shovel because before you’ll be able to plant beautiful new plants or some seeds, the soil will need to be prepared properly.

Tool's Up! DLC

Growing plants need lots of care and watering. One of the fastest ways to get the job done is to use a garden hose, but will you be able to control its attempts to escape? If you go it alone, hold on tight, but it’s even better to do this job with a friend to help you regulate the water’s flow. Thar she blows!

Tool's Up! DLC

Tools Up! Garden Party introduces many novel mechanics and tools to the game. Something that’s new is that there is usually more than one way to complete a task…sometimes even more than two ways! You decide what works best for you—anything goes in the great outdoors! And before calling the job done, you’ll have to uncover the mystery of the tree house. What’s been going on up there? Play all three episodes to find out!

Tools Up! Garden Party - Episode 1: The Tree House

Tools Up! Garden Party – Episode 1: The Tree House

All in! Games

Tools Up! Garden Party consists of three episodes, each with 15 unique levels and a demanding boss to beat. Each DLC episode will be available as a part of our Season Pass. Tools Up! Co. was going home from another successful renovation, when suddenly—an enormous treehouse crashed down in front them! It was falling apart before their eyes. This job was going to take some work! Gather your crew of up to 4 players and put the treehouse in order in Tools Up! Garden Party! We’re in the great outdoors now, so you’ll get to plant trees, water flowers, cut the grass, and much more. But be careful—there might be someone hiding in the bushes! Collect leaves for jobs done well to unlock new levels and skins. There may be more than one way to achieve your goals, but will you be able to beat the clock?
Tools Up! Garden Party – Season Pass

Tools Up! Garden Party – Season Pass

All in! Games

Tools Up! Garden Party consists of three episodes, each with 15 unique levels and a demanding boss to beat. Each DLC episode will be available as a part of our Season Pass. Gather your crew of up to 4 players and put the treehouse in order in this crazy couch co-op! We’re in the great outdoors now, so you’ll get to plant trees, water flowers, cut the grass, and much more. Collect leaves for jobs done well to unlock new levels and skins. There may be more than one way to achieve your goals, but will you be able to beat the clock?

Norbert Litwiński, Marketing Manager, All In! Games publisher
This article originally appeared on Xbox Wire

5 Tips for Smartphone Voice Tools

It has been a decade since Apple integrated Siri[1] right into its iPhone software[2] and mainstreamed the voice-activated assistant. But the assistant is just one of the voice-powered tools in your smartphone’s ever-growing audio toolbox. Your device can also be a digital recorder, a dictation machine, a podcast production studio and more. Here’s how to get things done with more talking and less typing.

You’ve probably already introduced yourself to Apple’s Siri[3], the Google Assistant[4] for Android (and iOS) or Samsung’s Bixby[5] during your phone’s setup process. You may have even already tried it out by asking for the weather report or setting a timer. But the biggest challenge with using a voice assistant is knowing the various tasks the software can handle and the devices it runs on — which now include tablets, speakers, smart-home hubs, automobile systems and streaming TV boxes[6].

Notes apps[7] are great for jotting down quick ideas, but it can be even quicker to record an audio clip; your assistant can even open the app for you. You can also record interviews with relatives for family-history archives or school projects.

The phone’s recording app works just like a physical recorder — push the Record button to start and the Pause or Stop to halt the session. You end up with an audio file you can play, transfer to a computer and back up online. Third-party apps abound, but your phone probably has its own free recording program.

Apple’s iPhone includes[8] a Voice Memos[9] app and Google’s Recorder app[10] for Android is free to download in the Google Play Store. Samsung includes its Voice Recorder[11] on many of its Galaxy phones, but also makes it available in the Galaxy[12] and Google[13] app stores.

Need a personal secretary to take dictation — or find typing difficult? Your phone can convert your spoken words into text. Just look for a microphone icon on the keyboard or search bar, tap it and start talking to see your words appear on the screen.

When dictating long passages of text like an email message or sections of your novel-in-progress into a word-processing app, you’ll need to call out the punctuation by name. For example, say “period” when the sentence ends or “new paragraph” to start a fresh paragraph.

The speech-to-text feature may be on (or off) by default, so check your settings. Apple’s site has a guide for using the dictation feature[14] on its devices, as does Google for its Android system[15] (and the Gboard[16] app for iOS[17]). Bixby has a Dictate feature[18] of its own, with instructions on the Samsung site.

An audio clip shares the sound of your world. Sending audio can also be useful if you can’t type at the moment, although your assistant can also take and send a text message.

To send an audio clip in Apple’s Messages[19] app, press and hold the sound-wave icon in the message box and record your clip. You can preview it before you send it. (To save space, the audio clips are automatically deleted two minutes after you listen unless you select the Keep option.)

Google’s Message app for Android sends audio messages[20] in a similar manner: Just press the microphone icon in your conversation to record a clip to send. Note that if you send a message to someone on a different phone platform, though, you may have to record the clip in another app and send the file as an attachment.

Podcasts have replaced blogs as a medium of self-expression for many people. If you’re thinking of starting your own show, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment. Free or inexpensive apps like Spotify’s Anchor[21], Podbean’s Audio Recorder[22] and Spreaker[23] Studio for Android[24] and iOS[25] provide recording and editing tools right on your phone, as well as publishing and distribution platforms for your podcast.


  1. ^ Apple integrated Siri (www.apple.com)
  2. ^ into its iPhone software (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ Siri (www.apple.com)
  4. ^ Google Assistant (assistant.google.com)
  5. ^ Bixby (www.samsung.com)
  6. ^ tablets, speakers, smart-home hubs, automobile systems and streaming TV boxes (www.nytimes.com)
  7. ^ Notes apps (www.nytimes.com)
  8. ^ iPhone includes (support.apple.com)
  9. ^ Voice Memos (support.apple.com)
  10. ^ Recorder app (play.google.com)
  11. ^ Voice Recorder (www.samsung.com)
  12. ^ Galaxy (galaxystore.samsung.com)
  13. ^ Google (play.google.com)
  14. ^ has a guide for using the dictation feature (support.apple.com)
  15. ^ for its Android system (support.google.com)
  16. ^ Gboard (apps.apple.com)
  17. ^ for iOS (support.google.com)
  18. ^ a Dictate feature (www.samsung.com)
  19. ^ send an audio clip in Apple’s Messages (support.apple.com)
  20. ^ sends audio messages (support.google.com)
  21. ^ Anchor (anchor.fm)
  22. ^ Audio Recorder (www.podbean.com)
  23. ^ Spreaker (www.spreaker.com)
  24. ^ Android (play.google.com)
  25. ^ iOS (apps.apple.com)

J. D. Biersdorfer