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An AI PC you’ll want to tinker with

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An AI PC you’ll want to tinker with

Hi, friends! Welcome to Installer No. 41, your guide to the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. (If you’re new here, welcome, hope you like gaming gadgets and silly spy movies, and also you can read all the old editions at the Installer homepage.)

This week, I’ve been reading about the tough times at Humane and how Suicide Squad flopped, watching the TikTok dancing cult documentary and Furiosa, swapping my crappy Roku for a slightly less crappy Apple TV, listening to a lot of WikiHole, mixing up new mocktail recipes, and testing the Phanpy app for all things fediverse.

I also have for you a new Raspberry Pi accessory, an incredibly well-liked movie to watch this weekend, a couple of fun tech books, some gaming gear, and lots more. Let’s do it.

(As always, the best part of Installer is your ideas and tips. What are you into right now? What should everyone else be as into as you are? Tell me everything: email installer@theverge.com, share with @imdavidpierce on Threads, or find me on Signal @davidpierce.11. And if you know someone else who might enjoy Installer, tell them to subscribe here.)

The Drop

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  • The Raspberry Pi AI Kit. This is my kind of AI PC: a super simple $70 kit that works with a Raspberry Pi 5 and gives you a surprising amount of power with which to do simple processing tasks. I don’t even know what I’ll use this for! But I’m getting one anyway.
  • Hit Man. A bunch of very smart people have said this comedy-action-thriller Netflix flick is one of the best movies of the year. And why not? Richard Linklater directs, Glen Powell stars, it’s based on an all-timer of a magazine article. I cannot wait to watch.
  • Dark Wire. This is as good a premise for a book as I’ve ever seen: the story of the FBI’s secret tech startup, designed to track some of the world’s most sophisticated criminals. A few places have published excerpts, and I already can’t put this book down.
  • Building SimCity. Two books this week! You love to see it. This is a story all about SimCity, yes, but also about the history of computer simulation, with lots of photos and diagrams to go with it. One for the coffee table for sure.
  • The new Rivian R1. Same look, same funky headlight design, totally new car underneath. A lot of what Rivian’s doing here is clearly just to keep costs down, but this continues to be the EV I lust after the most.
  • The Acolyte. This is a very different kind of Star Wars story, set in a very different time and place, told from a very different point of view, all of which I definitely think is a good thing. The reviews seem pretty mixed so far, but I’m excited to give it a whirl.
  • Sequel 2.3. A very cool update to the Installerverse’s favorite media tracking app for Apple devices. The new feature is called Magic Lookup, and it lets you send a URL to the app and have it automatically parsed and dumped into your lists. Perfect for saving those “20 things coming to Netflix this month” things you see all over the place.
  • The ModRetro Chromatic. The retro gaming hardware boom we’re in right now is just the best thing. And this, a $199 Game Boy homage from a team led by Palmer Luckey, looks great. It’s not shipping until the end of the year, but it’s up for preorders now.
  • The Asus ROG Ally X. Speaking of portable consoles! This one’s a lot bigger, a lot more expensive, and a lot more ambitious than the Chromatic — but it also sounds pretty great. Maybe this is the first Windows handheld that can really stand up to the Steam Deck?
  • Comfort Zone. Fun new podcast from the MacStories crew, with a gimmick I really like: every week, the three hosts have to basically do “Tech Show and Tell” and then issue a tech-related challenge to complete before the next episode. (MacStories also has another new podcast, called NPC, all about portable gaming.
  • “How ‘Wall-E’ Reveals Our Changing Feelings Toward Tech.” I am outrageously jealous of this whole series of episodes from the Offline podcast, looking at how movies like Her and The Social Network influenced the way we think about and build tech. This is the final episode in the miniseries, and they’re all worth a listen.

Screen share

Well, friends, it took 41 issues, but it happened: I had someone lined up for Screen Share this week, and it just didn’t come together in time. So let’s do something slightly different. I’ve recently become obsessed with the Niagara Launcher for Android, which is, in theory, largely optimized for one-handed phone use but is also just a better, quieter way of organizing your homescreen. In the last 10 days, I’ve probably redone my setup eight times. It’s a lot.

Niagara is just so clever! It turns your apps into a customizable list, pops up widgets and notifications right in place, and lets you do a shocking amount of stuff without ever opening an app. This is totally how phones should work. (If you want to understand how it operates, here’s a good thorough video to watch.)

Niagara just got a big update, too, particularly if you pay the $10 a year or $30 lifetime Pro subscription. Its search is better now, it got some cool new icons, and there are a few other little improvements, too.

As I’ve been tinkering with my own homescreen, I’ve been collecting some Niagara setups I like, and I figured I’d share a few. You can do so many things with this launcher!

Cool, right? There are rumors and reports that we’re going to get a bunch of new customization possibilities for iOS, too, so here’s hoping this is a year filled with chaotic homescreen reorgs. If you use Niagara, by the way, or any other awesome Android launcher, I’d love to see your sick homescreen setups. Send them my way. And we’ll be back to regular Screen Share next week!

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Crowdsourced

Here’s what the Installer community is into this week. I want to know what you’re into right now as well! Email installer@theverge.com or message me on Signal — @davidpierce.11 — with your recommendations for anything and everything, and we’ll feature some of our favorites here every week. 

“New version of Vibescape just came out for Apple Vision Pro — new Oregon coast-inspired meditation environment! Completely new experience with this and the Forest Ledge environment — pushing the boundaries of what’s possible outside of Apple’s own environments.” – Gregory

“I’ve been using Beeper a ton on my Pixel 8 Pro and MacBook Pro. I actually installed it in early April when the acquisition announcement came out but have really hit my stride with it a month ago. It’s just so helpful to have all of your messaging in one app, both for work and personal.” – Josh

Patrick Willems has a new video this week about what’s next after superhero movies so I’ve been diving back into his channel after a while.” – Mike

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“A friend introduced me to Guild Wars 2 a few months back. As someone who likes the concept of an MMO but always felt let down by the execution, I can confidently say this is one of the most underrated games ever made. A fun, free-to-play MMORPG with a healthy community and no microtransactions sounded too good to be true, but it’s not. Plus, with the recent announcements around the next expansion, there are more reasons to play than ever.” – Dallin

“I heard about Microsoft’s Recall, which felt exhausting and tedious to me. So, last weekend, I paved over Windows and installed the Bazzite Linux distro on my gaming PC and have been playing all my Steam and Epic games that way. It’s surprisingly so much better than the last time I tried Linux on the desktop. I’m sure mileage varies, but everything worked with about the same amount of tweaking Windows required.” – Les

“The LOTR movies are finally coming back to theaters. The extended editions — the only versions I’ll watch. So excited to go watch these with my pals, like high school all over again.” – Colin

“Watching Who Killed WCW? from Vice. It’s a three-part miniseries interviewing Eric Bischoff and a bunch of wrestlers like Kevin Nash, Konnan, and Booker T about the inevitable downfall of WCW. Everyone has their own thoughts about who to point the finger at, from Turner executives hating wrestling to Bischoff not knowing what he’s doing to the wrestlers only looking out for themselves. Only one episode out so far, but it’s good.” – Brian

“The new shows Thousandaires from Dropout and Trolley Problems from 2nd Try premiered this week and are both hilarious and great examples of modern media companies and the trend of creating their own streaming platforms.” – Zach

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“On the anime watch. I highly recommend Delicious in Dungeon. Very fun to watch, the characters’ comedic timing is excellent. This anime is hilarious while keeping the stakes of the story high.” – John

Signing off

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about a blog post Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s CTO, wrote recently. He talks about his system of “Inbox Ten,” which basically means not trying to end every day with nothing on your plate but instead just trying to find a more manageable flow of information in your life. Boz has a whole system for managing his inbox in particular, which I really like — I used to be an Inbox Zero zealot and get stressed out when there’s stuff in there, but I like his slightly less drastic approach. And this sentence has popped into my brain all week, every time I get an email: “Don’t let it linger in your inbox or get yourself talked into work you don’t think is a good use of your time.” Words to live by.

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Twitch banned Dr Disrespect after viewing messages sent to a minor, say former employees

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Twitch banned Dr Disrespect after viewing messages sent to a minor, say former employees

Twitch abruptly banned one of its biggest stars — Herschel “Guy” Beahm, better known by his persona Dr Disrespect — in 2020 without a word of explanation. Now, four years after Beahm’s permanent ban, two former Twitch employees have come forward to describe events they say contributed to his removal from the platform.

One former Twitch employee, who asked to remain anonymous citing the potential risk to their career, told The Verge that Beahm had used Whispers, Twitch’s now-defunct messaging system, to exchange messages with a minor and initiate a conversation about meeting up at TwitchCon. The employee worked on Twitch’s trust and safety team at the time of the ban in 2020.

Their comments corroborate a post from Cody Conners, a former Twitch employee who worked on the company’s strategic partnerships team. Late Friday, Conners posted on X, “He got banned because got caught sexting a minor in the then existing Twitch whispers product. He was trying to meet up with her at TwitchCon. The powers that be could read in plain text.”

Though Conners did not explicitly name Beahm, it was understood the streamer was the subject of the post. Beahm’s ban came shortly after Twitch updated its sexual harassment policy to punish offenders with permanent suspensions.

Beahm denied Connors’ allegations. “This has been settled, no wrongdoing was acknowledged, and they paid out the whole contract,” he posted on X. Beahm published an additional post reiterating that no wrongdoing was found. “I didn’t do anything wrong, all this has been probed and settled, nothing illegal, no wrongdoing was found, and I was paid,” he wrote.

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The news of Beahm’s ban, which came down four years ago this week, was shocking. Beahm was one of Twitch’s most popular stars at the time, with around 4 million followers, and he had just signed a seven-figure, two-year exclusivity contract with the platform. Neither Twitch nor Beahm would say why the streamer had been banned. In an interview with The Washington Post shortly after the ban, Beahm said that Twitch wouldn’t even tell him the reason why his account had been removed.

The former employee who spoke with The Verge also shared more insight into the order of events that led to the ban. They said there was a significant amount of time between when the messages between Beahm and the alleged victim were sent and when the moderation report about those messages was filed, but they weren’t able to recall how much time. When Twitch received the report in 2020, they said that Twitch investigated the claims and ultimately banned Beahm’s channel.

A year after being banned, Beahm said he was suing Twitch for monetary damages and disclosed that he finally knew why the platform issued the ban. However, Beahm declined to say what that was. A year later, the dispute was resolved with Beahm saying, “I have resolved my legal dispute with Twitch. No party admits to any wrongdoing.”

Beahm and Twitch did not respond to The Verge’s requests for comment.

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Your car is a target — don’t get hacked or duped

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Your car is a target — don’t get hacked or duped

Ever heard of wrapping your key fob in aluminum foil? It sounds out there, but it’s a smart move.

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Sign up now and don’t be left behind.

Your key fob’s signal is surprisingly easy for criminals to intercept. That lets them open your car without setting off any alarms. If you have a true keyless car model, they might be able to just drive away. Wrapping it in foil blocks the signals. 

It’s no surprise your car is a target. It’s probably one of the most valuable things you own. Let’s look at a few scams right now targeting car owners and those shopping for a new ride.

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X, FORMERLY TWITTER, IS TURNING ON PORN — BUT YOU CAN BLOCK IT

Cloned VIN scam

A Boston woman paid around $40,000 for an SUV on Facebook Marketplace. The Carfax report looked legit, and Maril Bauter received a clean title from the licensing agency. It was smooth sailing for almost three years … until the police seized the vehicle. 

When she bought the 2019 Toyota 4Runner, it was stolen. Bauter was the victim of a VIN cloning scam.

It all starts with a stolen car or perhaps one totaled out by an insurance company. The scammer finds the same make, model and year and takes the VIN from that car. It’s as easy as snapping a picture through the windshield.

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The scammer then changes the VIN plate on the stolen or totaled vehicle to match the one on the clean vehicle. Now, the scammer can create fake documents and complete the sale.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to spot these scams. If you’re in the market and buying from a private seller:

  • Use a site like Carfax or AutoCheck to look for anything strange with the VIN.
  • Compare the VIN on the car (near the windshield and in the door) with the title and all the other documents the seller provides.
  • Look for signs the VIN plate has been switched out. Run your finger over that area.
  • Consider paying a mechanic or car inspection service to look for major issues or red flags.

Bauter’s story had a happy ending: Her insurance company paid out her claim on the stolen vehicle. That said, not every victim is this lucky so be sure to do your due diligence if you’re in the market for a new vehicle.

HANDY HIDDEN FEATURES ON INSTAGRAM, X AND FACEBOOK

Check out a recent Kim Komando Podcast episode: Insurance companies use drones to look at your home

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Not the only car scam on Facebook Marketplace

An 18-year-old was arrested in Fort Lauderdale for posting his neighbors’ cars for rent on FB Marketplace. The scammer collected deposits and then sent renters to the car owners’ real addresses. 

One neighbor said eight people showed up at her house over three weeks. Another got his car smashed by an angry would-be renter. 

  • Never, ever pay ahead for a rental through a community sales platform. Really, it’s best to stick with a legitimate rental company.

A throwback attack

Cybercriminals can also employ old-school denial-of-service attacks to overwhelm your vehicle and potentially shut down critical functions like airbags, anti-lock brakes and door locks.

A laptop

(ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)

This attack is feasible since some connected cars have built-in Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities. As with regular home Wi-Fi networks, they can even steal your data if they infiltrate your car’s local network.

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Also, it’s a matter of physical safety. Remember, multiple computers and Engine Control Modules run modern cars. If hackers can shut these systems down, they can put you in grave danger.

  • Regularly changing your car’s onboard Wi-Fi network password is a must. Turning off your car’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is also a good idea when not in use, too.

The built-in monitoring is a security risk, too

Every newer car has an on-board diagnostics port. This interface allows mechanics to access your car’s data, read error codes and statistics and even program new keys.

Anyone can buy exploit kits that can utilize this port to replicate keys and program new ones to use them for stealing vehicles.

AI EXPERT: CHATGPT PROMPTS YOU’LL WISH YOU KNEW SOONER

  • Always go to a reputable mechanic. A physical steering wheel lock can also give you extra peace of mind.

Mobile malware

Another old-school internet hack reaches connected cars, specifically models with internet connectivity and built-in web browsers.

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How to prevent malware moving from an old computer to new one

A woman working on her laptop (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Crooks can send you emails and messages with malicious links and attachments that can install malware on your car’s system. Anything is possible once the malware is installed. Car systems don’t have built-in malware protections (yet), so this can be hard to spot.

  • Practice good computer and internet safety even when connected to your car. Never open emails and messages nor follow links from unknown sources.

Get tech-smarter on your schedule

Award-winning host Kim Komando is your secret weapon for navigating tech.

Copyright 2024, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. 

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Today is your last chance to sign up for a seven-day Max trial

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Today is your last chance to sign up for a seven-day Max trial

There’s no denying that streaming services just keep getting more expensive, with Peacock and Max being the latest streamers to raise prices across their ad-free plans. We’re also seeing a number of services — including Max — dropping support for free trials, ensuring no one other than paying subscribers can access their trove of content. Fortunately, if you haven’t previously subscribed to Max, you can sign up for a rare weeklong trial through the end of today, June 23rd.

Admittedly, a week isn’t enough time to burn through Max’s extensive back catalog of original programming, which includes newer shows like Hacks, the animated sci-fi epic Scavenger’s Reign, True Detective: Night Country, and last year’s excellent adaptation of The Last of Us. It is enough time to revisit Dune: Part Two and your favorite Studio Ghibli film, though, as well as the first couple of episodes of the new season of House of the Dragon.

Max’s current seven-day trial extends to all three subscription tiers, all of which are set to auto-renew at the end of the trial period if you don’t cancel your subscription beforehand. The annual ad-supported plan starts at $9.99 a month or $99 a year, while the ad-free plans — both of which allow for offline downloads — start at $16.99 a month or $169.99 annually. Max doesn’t typically offer free trials, so if you’re unsure as to which plan is right for you, now is a good opportunity to find out.

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