What is Z-Point by Z-Library?
Z-Library, a free digital collection of books and academic articles, was shut down by the US government in November of 2022. Its original website remains inaccessible, though an exact copy of it has emerged. With the questionable legal future of Z-Library in mind, many of its former users have been left wondering what happened to Z-Library and what the future of the service might look like.
When it was not yet mired in legal complications, the platform was one of the largest digital libraries in the world, with a collection of more than 11 million e-books and 84 million articles. Z-Library had a mission to disseminate knowledge and share a love of literature with people around the world regardless of location or financial constraints. Its closure, brought about by the efforts of The Author’s Guild, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has significantly reduced access to reading materials for millions of people worldwide.
Despite these difficulties, however, Z-Library has proved tenacious. Although two Russian nationals related to the site’s operations were arrested around the time of the website’s closure, the site’s continued existence has proved that the Z-Library team is numerous and unrelenting in their mission to provide free access to information for all.
Besides doing all they can to provide continued access to the site through backup domains, the team has even announced the upcoming launch of a new feature: Z-Point.
What is Z-Point?
Whereas Z-Library previously dealt only with digital files, Z-Point is intended to be a physical book sharing service. Users who have physical books they’d like to donate can send their books to one of 11 locations worldwide, with at least one location on each inhabited continent. The service went live in September of 2023, demonstrating Z-Library’s firm commitment to expanding information access even in the face of governmental efforts to shut them down.
Z-Point is not a new concept, to be clear: there are millions of Little Free Libraries scattered across the world that allow people in a specific geographic area to exchange physical books. However, Z-Point has a few specific advantages that could usher in a new era of book sharing.
First, its large existing user database means that it can build on a community that already believes in its mission. Its global character also increases the scale of such efforts and can contribute to a more equitable distribution of books and knowledge throughout the world. Even better, physical books received at a Z-Point will be digitized so that they can also be available for online users.
Where is Z-Point located?
The locations of Z-Points throughout the world underscores Z-Library’s goal to spread information equally. Each inhabited continent has at least one location, with 11 locations in total. Those 11 locations currently include:
* United States
* South Sudan
While rich, developed countries like Canada, the US, Australia, and Italy feature on this list, the project also includes countries from outside of the Global North. Access to books and to knowledge in general is determined in large part based on one’s financial resources, and that puts citizens of wealthy countries at an advantage when it comes to education or even reading for pleasure.
Besides, Z-Library also acts as an important information center for students in developing countries who need access to academic scholarship. Though universities do provide some access through online portals, inevitably they are unable to make everything available, especially in developing countries where universities’ budgets may be strained. Academic articles cost an average of $30 to purchase individually, and buying an article doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to use it in a thesis or dissertation.
In distributing its physical locations throughout the continents and between developed and developing countries, Z-Point recognizes and attempts to remedy the geographical imbalance in access to knowledge and scholarship.
From the launch of Z-Point to updates meant to subvert law enforcement efforts, the Z-Library team has been working as hard as ever to keep the service running and improve its offerings. It’s clear from their plans for future improvements that they have no desire to stay complacent with the service, even with legal consequences.
With regards to features that may be released in the future, the team has indicated their wish to add an interface for direct sharing. With such a system, users could list the physical books they have and are willing to exchange. Other users looking for a specific book could then find the book they’re looking for on someone else’s page and then contact the owner to arrange an exchange.
This feature would eliminate the need for a Z-Point, allowing users to connect and exchange directly. There are still a few questions about the feasibility of the service, including responsibility for shipping costs that can be quite substantial in transcontinental exchanges. All in all, however, when Z-Library figures out the details, the expansion will surely be a great step forward.
Though it may seem bold of Z-Library to continue expanding its offerings despite legal troubles, it may actually represent a step towards greater legitimacy. In fact, sharing a physical book that you’ve legally purchased is a much different matter legally speaking than sharing illegally obtained digital e-books or articles. The Z-Point project is, in effect, substantially safer legally than the Z-Library digital catalog is. With regards to digitization, Z-Library claims that books will only be digitized “if allowed by local laws.” Though the “local laws” regarding copyright will vary significantly between each country, this specification might represent a first step towards a more cautious attitude around legality.
Whatever the future of Z-Library itself, it seems that book sharing is here to stay. Clearly, the desire to freely exchange information is there, and despite governmental efforts to repress it, new domain names and websites keep popping up to meet the demand. If Z-Point’s physical book sharing service proves to be more safe legally, it could lead the vanguard in worldwide book sharing.
Digital Disasters: Worst Video Games of the Year 2023
For every Elden Ring or Baldur’s Gate 3 pushing boundaries, a parade of less than ideal games foul up your PC, fueling controller-snapping rage. The blockbuster-heavy gaming industry may glitter, but it's not all gold. Lazy adaptations, technical dysfunction, and wayward franchises dashed devices and drained wallets. Here are the worst video games of 2023.
retreats to the familiar FPS template, undeserving of the studio's pedigree. But past successes suggest Arkane will resurrect itself.
* Metacritic score: 56
* Developer(s): Arkane Austin
* Release Date: 2nd May 2023
* Platform(s): Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Microsoft Windows
In 2023, Redfall was meant to be Arkane Austin's next big hit. 20 years crafting acclaimed immersive shooters like Dishonored and Prey. Sky-high hype, but crashed harder than an anemic vampire.
In this open-world co-op shooter, vampires rule Redfall Island and make it their new hunting ground. You have 4 quirky characters to choose from to fight back in single-player or co-op FPS action.
Promising co-op fails to save tired tropes and repetitive combat. Enemy AI constantly stutters against mundane obstacles. Assets are endlessly reused, while textures take eons to load. For every neat touch, five frustrations grind your enjoyment into dust.
Saddled to 30fps and last-gen visuals, Redfall rarely impresses as a next-gen experience. Arkane built its reputation by pioneering gameplay innovations and meticulous worlds. Redfall retreats to the familiar FPS template, undeserving of the studio's pedigree. But past successes suggest Arkane will resurrect itself.
2. Quantum Error
* Metacritic score: 41
* Developer(s): Teamkill Media
* Release Date: 05th November 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 5
Quantum Error is one of 2023's most baffling games. An indie game developed by four brothers, yet absurdly priced as an AAA title. This first-person sci-fi horror shooter buries flashes of promise under layers of frustration and shoddy acting.
You play Jacob Thomas, a firefighter-turned-mercenary in 2109 AD. When a rescue mission goes awry, he battles monsters across twisted dimensions. An alluring premise, but unfortunately, messy gameplay mechanics drain any thrills.
The stealth mechanics don't work as advertised, and while you have plenty of weapons, it's easy to run out of ammo for the guns. The fighting becomes repetitive, as most enemies just run straight at you, seemingly waiting to be shot. Checkpoint repetition after frequent deaths grinds enjoyment rather than terror.
With clunky visuals and zero scares, Quantum Error fails as a horror experience. Impressive scale for a tiny team can't outweigh shoddy execution on nearly every front. Save your hard drive for the 80GB install.
3. Testament: The Order of High Human
* Metacritic score: 41
* Developer(s): Fairyship Games
* Release Date: 13th July 2023
* Platform(s): Windows PC
Fantasy flop Testament wastes a decent premise with a disjointed 40-hour slog of monotony. As immortal king Aran, you seek to reclaim a stolen throne from your traitorous brother. So far, so good. Yet this indie RPG drowns any potential in an abyss of repetitive combat, nonsensical dialogue, and game-breaking technical issues.
Prepare for Elder Ring lengths of frustration minus its open world's freedom. Over 80 percent of the game involves mindlessly mashing the same few attacks against identically boring enemies in copy-pasted arenas. Reviewers exhausted their vocabulary for words like "tedious," "frustrating," "buggy," and "bland" to describe the unrelenting monotony.
Characters spout pretentious drivel in stilted line reads. Bugs constantly threaten progress, from crashes and performance woes to glitched objectives. This fantasy fiasco should've remained banished from our gaming realm.
4. Greyhill Incident
* Metacritic score: 38
* Developer(s): Refugium Games
* Release Date: 09th June 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S
Scoring a measly 38% on Metacritic, Greyhill Incident ranks among 2023's lowest-rated titles. As conspiracy theorist Ryan Baker, you seek to rescue your abducted son from the alien Grays now terrorizing your remote 1990s community. The premise evokes X-Files-era sci-fi, but Greyhill mangles almost everything from narrative to gameplay.
Instead of tension, rote stealth mechanics invite repetition. Fetch quests pad a 3 to 5 hour campaign empty of substance. Non-threatening aliens stand motionless when catching you, eliciting more giggles than shrieks.
The atmosphere impresses with moody lighting yet lacks story context to bring Greyhill to life. The game begs for side stories and mystery amid the emptiness. Characters amount to little more than lifeless quest dispensers.
For a first effort, Refugium sketches the contours of an intriguing world. But those outlines remain frustratingly incomplete, lacking the details to bring it to life. This paint-by-numbers invasion amounts to little more than a brief shell devoid of substance. There's little incentive to enlist in saving Greyhill from its wasted potential or yawning emptiness.
5. The Walking Dead: Destinies
* Metacritic score: 50
* Developer(s): Flux Games
* Release Date: 27th November 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.
Based on the first four seasons of The Walking Dead TV series, Destinies shambles to new lows with this ill-fated spinoff.
You can play as Rick Grimes, a cop who's been in a coma for four years and wakes to fight zombies with guns and bats. The hook promises you can replay his journey, forge your own path, and rewrite the series' narrative with 150+ ending variations and 3 different final bosses. You can decide whether Rick or Shane leads the group. But neither the familiar story nor diverging choices escape repetitive tedium and technical turmoil.
The game's appeal decays faster than Walker's flesh. Consequences never truly manifest beyond superficial nods. Instead, Destinies suffers the hallmarks of a rush job, riddled with poor graphics, game-breaking crashes, and no depth.
Potentially a promising chance to reshape The Walking Dead's seminal early seasons, Destinies leaves little beyond a reminder of the franchise's diminishing returns. Like the show, the game is now a zombie aimlessly shuffling toward irrelevance.
6. The Lord of the Rings - Gollum
* Metacritic score: 34
* Developer(s): Daedalic Entertainment
* Release Date: 25th May 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, and Windows PC. (Nintendo Switch will be released soon)
Hopes ran high that playing as Lord of the Rings anti-hero Gollum would offer some dark fantasy fun. His fractured personality, torn between innocent Sméagol and wretched Gollum, seemed ripe for complex storytelling. But Daedalic Entertainment's disastrous 2023 adaptation failed to capture any such intrigue.
Since the release of The Lord of the Rings - Gollum, Steam advises that of the tiny number of reviews (368), most are negative. It's more "bored of the rings."
Gameplay? Missions amount to repetitive tedium sans excitement, testing patience, not skill. A monotonous grind through repetitive tasks makes Gollum's centuries-long cave dwelling seem thrilling. Dull prison chores fail to flesh out the backstory.
Rather than deliver on promising early alphas, the final product devolved into a hot visual mess. It's like somebody sketched Middle Earth with a crayon. For a figure as iconic as Gollum, this title only leads you to ruin, not redemption - your precious game this is not.
7. Skull Island: Rise of Kong
* Metacritic score: 23
* Developer(s): IguanaBee
* Release Date: 17th October 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.
Scoring an abysmal 23% on Metacritic, Skull Island: Rise of Kong claims 2023's worst-rated crown and burns its iconic 90-year cinematic IP. The plot? Avenge your parents' death as young Kong and rise toward "King" status across the island.
Developed in under a year, this shallow adaptation trades thrilling, heart-pounding adventure for lukewarm boredom. Repetitive combat quickly erodes playability atop the mysterious Skull Island. Expect to witness the bizarre spectacle of Kong glitching through trees or moonwalking over cliffs.
Lackluster graphics, bizarre cutscenes, clipped environmental collisions, and game-breaking performance issues pile atop the bargain-bin gameplay. It makes you nostalgic for when Kong was just a pixelated gorilla throwing barrels at Mario.
And so concludes our 2023 video game Hall of Shame. Across the spectrum of disaster, recurring themes plague these titles: broken technical foundations, repetitive filler gameplay, and wasted potential. Let their failure stand as a warning while we eagerly anticipate the top titles in 2024.
10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2024
It’s almost the start of a brand new year, meaning a whole year of new games to look forward to. We are going to go over some of the most anticipated games of 2024 that caught our eye and the titles we simply can’t wait to play. We’ll show you what awaits you in 10 games coming out in 2024, and trust us when we say there is plenty to be excited about.
1. Tekken 8 - Jan 26, 2024
Tekken 8, developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, marks the eighth mainline entry in the Tekken series. The game is set for release on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. This latest installment promises to be the most ambitious and visually striking of the series, introducing an upgraded combat system and starting with a roster of 32 playable characters. A new mode, called Arcade Quest, has been announced in this release that will satisfy all enthusiasts of the single-player experience. Despite the evident excitement of eager players waiting for this new entry, Bandai Namco Entertainment has been pretty reserved in the promotional content they’ve put out regarding its release. That said, we’ve been able to dissect a good chunk of information from gameplay trailers and the roster itself. Although fighting games already go hand in hand with aggression, expect Tekken 8 to be especially fast-paced and hard-hitting, thanks to the introduction of a handful of new mechanics and the reintroduction of fan favorites. If you’re looking for intense battles, you should have a good time with Tekken 8. Time will tell whether the popular fighter will have as big of a launch as longtime competitor Street Fighter experienced with Street Fighter 6, but we're pulling for Tekken 8’s success.
2. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League - February 2, 2024
Rocksteady Studios, known for their fantastic Batman Arkham series, returns with another action-adventure game set in DC’s universe. This upcoming game is poised to redefine the team-based action genre, offering a chaotic blend of sharp wit and gritty action. If you admire superheroes (or villains), this might be one of the coolest upcoming games for you. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League sees Harley Quinn and crew battle an evil version of the Justice League with the help of Batman. You’ll be able to play as Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, or King Shark, and each squad member will have their own unique abilities. If these criminals are among your favorites in the DC universe, you’ll be in for a treat. The game’s story focuses on the eponymous group’s attempts to get rid of the Justice League. It’s set in an open-world version of the iconic city of Metropolis, which you’ll be able to explore freely. If that’s not enough to convince you that Suicide Squad is one of the most interesting new triple-A games coming out in 2024, the title can be played in co-op with up to four players.
3. World of Warcraft: The War Within - 2024
The tenth World of Warcraft expansion will be called The War Within. This expansion will be the first part of the Worldsoul Saga, which is being slated as the most ambitious creative endeavor for World of Warcraft since the game’s release almost 20 years ago. The War Within begins with an ancient civilization rising to power deep beneath the surface of Azeroth, as heroes of both the Alliance and Horde alike are bombarded with visions—some are of the Light, others of an alternate, darker fate. The upcoming expansion will take players beneath the surface of the planet to the land of Khaz Algar, where they’ll find the Earthen, a race of dwarves, and darker forces, such as the Nerubians. The expansion is slated for release at the end of 2024 and will introduce new zones to explore, new dungeons and raids to conquer, new game systems to master, and more. In terms of story, the Worldsoul Saga certainly feels like the greatest undertaking we’ve ever seen in World of Warcraft, whose story has been unfolding for almost 20 years (30 if you include the original Warcraft games). The War Within, the first of the three expansions in the Worldsoul Saga, brings to the game new areas, new enemies, and a host of new mechanics, such as delves, warbands, hero talents, and dynamic flying, offering players exciting new ways to enjoy the game.
4. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 - Fall 2024
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, sequel to the cult classic 2004 vampire role-playing game, was originally announced by Paradox in 2019 for a 2020 release, but the game suffered from a case of the delays. The game experienced multiple setbacks, lost its original developers, and issued full preorder refunds in 2021 to disgruntled fans who had gotten tired of waiting around for its release. After this developmental implosion, the game eventually resurfaced in a new version made by a different dev team—The Chinese Room. The original game was adapted from a tabletop RPG; however, Bloodlines 2 is shaping up to be a different experience. In a story described by the developer as a “neo-noir thriller,” The Chinese Room has confirmed that Bloodlines 2 breaks the newborn vampire tradition by having players start out as an experienced Elder. We also know that the game will center around the Boston Camarilla—that is, the vampiric council of Boston, Massachusetts, where customizable protagonist Phyre awakens after centuries of slumber. Bloodlines 2 is set to release in fall next year. Whether it will live up to its legendary 2004 origins is unclear, but a lot of fans sure are hoping it will.
5. Hollow Knight: Silksong - 2024
Hollow Knight: Silksong, developed and published by Team Cherry, serves as a follow-up to the critically acclaimed Hollow Knight (2017). Silksong has been a long time in the making, but given its indie nature and the fact that its development team comprises a single person, fans have been willing to wait the 6 years it’s taken thus far. In the game, players assume the role of Hornet, the princess-protector of Hallownest, as she embarks on a treacherous pilgrimage through a distant land ruled by silk and song. Along the way, she battles foes, seeks allies, and unravels mysteries, ascending to the kingdom’s peak. Silksong retains the beloved 2D platforming and combat gameplay of its predecessor and introduces Hornet’s unique move set and silk-based abilities, which are distinct from the abilities of the Knight, the protagonist in the original Hollow Knight. Silksong brims with more than 165 enemies, a hundred different benches, and a new quest system, promising an enthralling and challenging experience. Furthermore, mods are likely to be written that will extend the gameplay experience in interesting and unexpected ways—check out some of the mods that were written for Hollow Knight here. Scheduled for release in 2024 across multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, Silksong is looking to carry the torch of its predecessor’s success, delivering a visually stunning, atmospheric adventure that will no-doubt leave players hooked.
6. Black Myth: Wukong - August 20th, 2024
Black Myth: Wukong is an upcoming action RPG inspired by a 16th-century Chinese novel called Journey to the West. The narrative of the game is based on the adventures of the Monkey King, a famous mythical character who is one of the novel’s primary characters. In the game, this powerful monkey is referred to as the “Destined One.” He has several abilities, such as the power to transform into a swamp of flying insects or into a giant monster. The game pits the player’s monkey warrior character against various legends, foes, and creatures from throughout Chinese mythology, from headless monks to a powerful white dragon. Black Myth: Wukong has been recognized for its stunning visuals and impressive combat gameplay. The game features a variety of weapons and abilities, as well as a variety of enemies and bosses, and it is a great choice for fans of action-adventure games like Devil May Cry and the Soulsborne series. It is sure to be one of the most challenging and rewarding games of 2024.
7. Dragon’s Dogma II - March 21, 2024
A small but passionate fanbase has been waiting patiently for a sequel to the very ambitious Dragon’s Dogma, an action RPG that came out in 2014 and that became a cult classic of sorts, eventually growing to sizable numbers in terms of sales. Dragon’s Dogma II’s reveal came during a special 10th-anniversary video for Dragon’s Dogma that was hosted by the game’s director, Hideaki Itsuno, in June 2022. That reveal was eventually followed in May 2023 with an announcement trailer at the PlayStation Showcase event. Set in the same world as its predecessor, Dragon’s Dogma II introduces a new protagonist on a quest to vanquish a formidable dragon. The game has massive monsters and environments and tons of weapons and builds. The ability to climb and attack beasts, in a mini–Shadow of the Colossus kind of style, is back. In the trailer, we see small amounts of destructible environments and what appears to be magic for creating objects to cross gaps. Dragon’s Dogma II is set to launch on March 21, 2024, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.
8. Star Wars Outlaws - 2024
Touted as the “first-ever open-world Star Wars game,” Star Wars Outlaws is the upcoming action-adventure game being developed by Massive Entertainment and published by Ubisoft under license from Lucasfilm Games. In Outlaws, players will assume the role of Kay Vess, an outlaw with one goal in mind: “Attempt one of the biggest heists the Outer Rim has ever seen.” The game will take place between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and will feature third-person action gameplay with stealth elements and an emphasis on exploration and shooting. Accompanied by her companion (Nix), Kay Vess embarks on this daring heist across several planets, including familiar locations such as Tatooine, Kijimi, and Akiva, as well as previously unknown worlds, such as the moon Toshara, which was inspired by the landscape of the Tanzanian savannah. The game will be set in an open world and offer open combat mechanics, vehicle and space combat, and branching dialog. As a single-player experience, Outlaws promises a deep narrative experience, and as with many recent Star Wars games, it looks expensive and official, with beautiful visuals and presentation to match.
9. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl - 2024
For the first time in the series’ history, a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game is coming to consoles. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl, the fourth entry in the series, will be releasing for Microsoft Windows and Xbox Series X|S. This first-person shooter survival horror game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World aims to revive the series, which received its last installment in 2009 with S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat. Heart of Chornobyl was supposed to come out in 2012 as Call of Pripyat’s sequel but was canceled in the year of its intended release. The game is set in the postapocalyptic Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, an area contaminated by the 1986 nuclear disaster. Mutated monsters and stalkers are roaming around this open world. Players assume the role of a Stalker searching for valuable artifacts. Heart of Chornobyl surpasses its predecessor with a large, open world, a fresh narrative, and new characters and gameplay elements. The life simulation system in particular brings dynamic AI-driven behavior to all entities and randomizes in-game events. Heart of Chornobyl promises to deliver an intense and atmospheric gameplay experience, where player decisions will have profound effects on the course of the game. With the addition of multiplayer elements after its launch, the game will also offer opportunities for shared experiences and challenges.
10. Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree - 2024
Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is the first DLC by FromSoftware for their GOTY winner, which many people still rave about. This highly anticipated expansion cannot come soon enough. Shadow of the Erdtree was originally unveiled with little fanfare on February 28, 2023, and although a release date has not yet been announced, the DLC is likely to make a 2024 appearance, based on DLC release windows we’ve seen for other games by FromSoftware. In fact, we still barely know anything about what the upcoming DLC will entail, but that doesn’t mean that the great enthusiasm from fans at its announcement has subsided. After all, the game was an incredible evolution of what the developer had done in the past, and the vast world, with its unique lore, had players wanting more. With this DLC, players will likely get that. Plenty of speculation into the DLC’s story and content has been ongoing with the image teased back in February. Everybody seems to think that the expansion will be focused on the god Miquella—although Elden Ring being what it is, it’s probably safe to assume that everyone's assumptions will be wrong. Based on what we do know, the story will focus on key characters within the lore and possibly flesh out the world even more.
And that rounds up our list of the most anticipated games coming out in 2024. Make sure to wishlist your favorites, and for more games, make sure to check out the lineup available with an Xbox Game Pass. Furthermore, with the purchase of a Windows 11 PC from Acer, you can enjoy one month free of Xbox Game Pass.
A Preview of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
This week we will be journeying deep into the exciting open world of the Pandoran biosphere. Travel to the lush moon of Pandora and defend your home against the human invaders in this upcoming first-person, action adventure game. Based on James Cameron’s Avatar movie franchise (2009-ongoing), take control of a Na’vi orphan, trained and held captive by the invaders, reconnect with your lost heritage, and join other Na’vi and fight to protect Pandora from the RDA. Sounds fun? Read on to find out all you need to know about Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
Release date and platforms
First, let’s answer a few questions that you might have about Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. When is Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora coming out? The Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora release date is scheduled for December 7, 2023. Will Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora be cross platform? Yes, the game will be available on Windows, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Amazon Luna.
Who’s behind Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora?
As we mentioned above, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is based on the Avatar epic science fiction film franchise. The game is developed by Massive Entertainment, Malmö, Sweden-based studio of the game’s publishers, Ubisoft. Massive Entertainment titles include Tom Clancy’s The Division, as well as the upcoming Star Wars Outlaws. Ubisoft is best known for its award winning open-word, action-adventure franchise Assassin’s Creed.
What’s the story?
For those of you unfamiliar with the Avatar movies, here’s a quick overview (without spoilers) to set the scene. By the mid-22nd century, the earth is dying. In order to survive, humans are exploring and colonizing various planets. Among these planets is the home of the Na’vi, Pandora. A lush, biodiverse moon, Pandora is covered in dense, bioluminescent jungles, and teeming with life. The flora and fauna of Pandora are linked by a neural network, which maintains environmental harmony.
Harmonious until the humans arrive! The unspoiled forests of Pandora are pillaged by humanity, as the Resources Development Administration (RDA) mines the precious mineral unobtanium, and destroys anything or anyone that stands in their way. Humans cannot breathe the air on Pandora, so they use Na’vi-human hybrids (avatars) to exploit the natural resources.
In Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora you are Sarentu, and your mission is to protect Pandora by becoming Na’vi. How did we get here? After being abducted as a child by the RDA, you were trained as a soldier, before being put into emergency cryosleep when they abandoned their base. Fifteen years later, you awaken and must reconnect with your world and your people, and learn the ways of the Na’vi. It’s not long until the RDA returns, determined to strip Pandora of its natural resources, destroying the land in its wake. To save your planet, you must fight alongside the Na’vi to protect Pandora against the human invaders!
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Gameplay
The immersive, open world experience of this first-person, action adventure promises Avatar fans, and action adventure aficionados a real treat. Explore Pandora and interact with the flora and fauna of the jungle, as you engage in story quests and outpost clearing missions. In addition to the lush Kinglor Forest and its floating mountains, players will explore the Upper Plains, wide open grasslands with lakes and mammoth like Zakrus. Later heading west, the Clouded Forest is shrouded in mist and mystery, the home of the Kame'tire tribe.
The stunning graphics in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora follow the innovative spirit of the Avatar film franchise. Pandora’s immersive, varied environments come to life as the player progresses through the game, with the flora and fauna changing due to the player’s presence. The bioluminescent plant life from the Avatar movie has been seamlessly transposed into the gaming landscape of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. From the floating islands in the sky to the forests below, raytracing, adaptive triggers and haptic feedback all contribute to the immersive experience.
Exploration is a key part of this game, as when you begin, your character is as clueless of the Na’vi environment as you are. You’ll need to learn the skills needed to survive the beautiful, yet unpredictable environment of the vast Western Frontier and its unique biomes.
Fortunately, the Aranahe, a peace-loving clan of weavers, will teach you to hunt and help you connect with your Ikran, or Banshee. This flying beast, once named, tamed, fed and customized, will help you traverse the vast open world of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Banshees and other creatures including Direhorses can be harnessed in Pandora’s various subregions.
As a child of both the human and Na’vi worlds, you have access to the combat styles of both, and you must use them effectively to take on the RDA, and stop them ruining Pandora. Destroy RDA facilities and heal Pandora. Harness the destructive power of human weapons including assault rifles, shotguns, and occasional rocket launchers. Employ Na’vi bows, spears and sling staffs to slay the human invaders with precision, as well as hunt effectively. For more information on the captivating combat in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, have a read of this interview with the developers.
Your Na’vi senses and abilities provide you with an edge over the humans: your instincts give you an overview of the battlefield, identifying weak points in the RDA and marking your enemies. Faster and stronger than humans, you’ll also be able to learn a variety of jumps and techniques to scale vertical surfaces.
As your land heals, harvest the fruits of your labor to craft superior equipment and weapons. Hunting also provides meat, which can be cooked and consumed to improve your health. You can also scavenge from RDA bases, and all of your resources can be given to the Na’vi clans to increase your reputation.
Your gear improves as you complete tasks, and your character’s skill tree has sections for combat, crafting, hunting, as well as bonding with your banshee and other creatures. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora can be played in single-player mode, or online in two-player co-op. Become Na’vi, protect Pandora in the exciting open world of the Western Frontier.
We hope that you have enjoyed this introduction to Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Remember, the release date is December 7th for Windows, Playstation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. Be sure to check out Acer’s Game Pass for all of your favorite games past, present and future.
Before you embark on your great journey across the Frontiers of Pandora, ensure you have the right equipment! If you’re a gamer on a budget, and you require optimum performance at an approachable price, check out Acer’s Nitro V 15 Gaming Laptop - ANV15-51-59MT. This laptop boasts a 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display with 144 Hz refresh rate, in addition to a powerful Intel® Core™ i5-13420H Processor with up to 4.6GHz. On top of these features, the NVIDIA® GeForce RTX 4050 graphics card promises to impress, delivering crystal clear graphics.
A Preview of The Day Before
The Day Before appeared out of nowhere at the beginning of 2021. Developer Fntastic surprised gamers when it announced the upcoming title alongside gameplay footage that looked almost too good to be true for such a small indie game studio. Based on the premise of a zombie apocalypse, The Day Before is a survival MMO featuring an open world shooter gameplay experience. The game was originally scheduled for release in June 2022; however, after multiple delays, it is now slated for early access release on December 7, 2023. Although The Day Before has been highly anticipated for quite some time, popular opinion seems to have turned against the game and its developer. With long periods of silence and miscommunication from the developer regarding delays and other issues, trust in the project is paper thin. We’ve summarized all we know about this upcoming zombie title for you here.
Soon after it was first announced, The Day Before became the most wishlisted game on Steam. Its first “gameplay” trailer, released in 2021, showed the basic mechanics of the game, and its visuals looked impressive. With the number of fans quickly growing, excitement was building for this new zombie MMO. However, concerns immediately arose around the feasibility of such an ambitious open world and multiplayer project, and several gamers voiced their doubts about the authenticity of the release date trailer, claiming it was likely only a vertical slice of the game. Over the next few years, criticism for the game continued to grow due to an increasing number of problems related to release delays, nontransparent and misleading marketing by the developer, and increased skepticism about the developer’s ability to deliver.
The game’s first problem occurred with a delay that shifted its release date from June 2022 to March 2023, due to a planned switch from Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal Engine 5. This delay was considered reasonable by fans who were looking forward to the improvements Unreal Engine 5 could bring. Then, in January 2023, the game’s Steam page was suddenly delisted, and this is where the situation started to get strange.
Fntastic initially stated that their Steam delisting was due to a minor technical difficulty with Steam. However, on January 25, Fntastic then blamed the delisting on trademark issues surrounding the title of the game and further delayed its release to November 10, 2023 for these reasons. However, the studio’s founders later stated that this delay had already been planned prior to them learning of the trademark dispute. Not only was this contradictory information a cause for concern, but the details surrounding the trademark dispute itself were hard to believe. For example, Fntastic had failed to file a trademark for their game’s name when beginning development and had also failed to respond to a trademark dispute raised shortly after they filed for the trademark in June 2022.
At this point, many gamers were convinced they were in for another Blue Box or Abandoned scenario with a developer pretending it was making a game while kicking the release date further and further down the road. Amid speculation over the status of their game, Fntastic released new raw gameplay footage on February 2, 2023. Unfortunately, the new footage looked worse than the original footage from 2021 and revealed an overall lack of effort and progress in the game’s development.
In the 10-minute gameplay footage trailer, you can see two characters walking, looting, and shooting zombies. However, that’s all that happens. No one talks in the trailer, there’s no score, and the only sounds you hear in the city are the occasional bird chirp and zombie scream. The graphics are less detailed compared with what was shown in the 2021 trailer, and fewer things are going on in the environment. Several of the in-game assets appear to have been placed in the game unaltered from their original versions in the asset store. Furthermore, the introduction to the trailer contains scenes that look exactly the same as those from the Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Zombies trailer, with similar framing, color, and camera positions. This method of copying from other games is mirrored in the way The Day Before’s title logo has identical font and framing as that used in The Last of Us, another postapocalyptic video game.
In November 2023, the latest delay to the game’s release date was announced, with the game now being slated for a Steam early access release on December 8, 2023.
Fntastic have defended against claims that their game is a scam, stating that they were being backed by publisher Mytona; evaluated on their progress regularly; and hadn’t taken any money from the public: no crowdfunding, no preorders, and no donations. Nevertheless, their unclear marketing messages and lack of transparency have damaged their already limited reputation.
The Day Before storyline
The Day Before relies on the tried-and-tested zombie postapocalypse trope. The United States has been hit by a pandemic that has turned almost all humans into violence-prone zombies, and players are placed right in the middle of the disaster. As a survivor, players travel the open world with a singular goal: to survive being eaten by zombies or shot by other survivors. To do this, players must go in search of food and resources, all while staying safe from zombies, avoiding enemy survivors who might try to steal their loot or worse, and ally themselves with others in safe colonies.
The Day Before gameplay mechanics
The Day Before is an open-world survival MMO sitting somewhere between The Division’s postdisaster narrative and the zombie-adjacent tale in The Last of Us. At first blush, The Day Before looks like a solid third-person shooter with a focus on stealth, crafting, and inventory management, not unlike the Stalker games. The various status meters in the game add to the survival gameplay element.
In the latest gameplay trailer shown above, several of the game’s features are shown in action, including scavenging for goods, facing off with other players in some “impromptu” PvP, and poking around a dimly lit office while evading ravenous zombies.
Several of the game’s mechanics are as follows:
* Exploration: Players can explore the open world of The Day Before, which is said to be one of the largest ever created for a video game.
* Scavenging: This is essential for survival. Resources can be found in various places, such as abandoned buildings, vehicles, and corpses. Players need to scavenge for warm clothes, food, crafting materials, and ammunition.
* Crafting: Players can craft various items using the resources they have gathered.
* Combat: Players will encounter a variety of enemies, including infected humans, animals, and other survivors, who are forced to fight them because resources are scarce. Players will need to use their weapons and skills to defeat their enemies and survive.
* Building: Players can build shelters to protect themselves from the elements and enemies.
* Survival: Players fight off the hordes of zombies on their journey through the postapocalyptic United States, which, according to the developers, should function as “realistically” as possible. Zombies will not be inhumanly fast or spray fountains of poison.
The following features included in the game set it apart from other survival games:
* Dynamic weather system: The Day Before features dynamic weather that creates an immersive and unpredictable environment. Clothing will be necessary to protect players from approaching cold and storms and thunderstorms that will make survival even more challenging.
* Day and night cycle: A day and night cycle system will affect gameplay.
* Open world: The open world is supposed to be more varied than, for example, that in the similar game The Division. Players explore forests, mountains, settlements, and rural areas next to the abandoned city.
* Vehicle mechanics: Players can use vehicles to travel the vast open world more efficiently and strategically.
* Nonlinear gameplay: A nonlinear gameplay experience means players have control over the path their journey takes.
Other players you encounter in the game can become allies or enemies. PvP is present everywhere in the world—that means players will compete for loot and can steal from each other. Details on the PvP mode are yet to be announced.
Graphics and design
The Day Before boasts impressive graphics that bring the postapocalyptic world to life. Expect detailed environments, realistic lighting effects, and dynamic weather conditions that set a new benchmark for the genre. The city that players will scour looks great, particularly its lighting. Puddles and leather backpacks all have a certain sheen that looks highly realistic.
Whether you are venturing alone in the desolate landscapes or teaming up with friends for a shared survival experience, The Day Before offers a captivating journey in gorgeous environments. There is no doubt that this game has the potential to leave an indelible mark in the gaming industry and the hearts of players worldwide. Whether it fulfills its potential remains an open question.
The Day Before release date
The Day Before is set to launch in early access on December 7, 2023, for Windows PC via Steam; however, given the developer’s track record, we certainly won’t be surprised if another delay is announced. We also wouldn’t be surprised if after launch it were to remain in early access in perpetuity—time will tell. For other, awesome games, make sure to check out the lineup of games the Xbox Game Pass has on offer. Furthermore, with the purchase of a Windows 11 PC from Acer, you can enjoy one month free of Xbox Game Pass.
Nitro V 15 gaming laptop (ANV15-51)
In September, Acer launched a brand new gaming laptop: the Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51). Like other models in the Nitro series, the ANV15-51 features a black, plastic case with a smooth matte surface, RGB keyboard lighting, and colored stripes on the back of the case for added visual appeal. In general, the ￼￼Nitro series of laptops are machines that without costing a whole fortune have been configured with powerful AMD Ryzen™ or Intel Raptor™ or later CPU options and the latest NVIDIA RTX™ 4000 series video cards.
This latest model comes in a range of configurations, with its baseline version being powered by a 13th-gen Intel Core i5-13420H processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 graphics card with 6 GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory, and other versions can come with 13th-gen Intel Core i7 processors. Memory-wise, the laptop supports up to 32 GB of DDR5 memory. For storage, you can opt for up to 2 TB of M.2 PCIe solid-state storage, ensuring quick booting and fast loading within games. It impresses with a generous number of I/O ports (three USB Type-A ports, a USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 port, an ethernet port, an HDMI port, a headset jack, and a DC-in jack). It also has a unique fan and exhaust system that works by drawing cool air in through the keyboard and expelling hot air through vents on the side and rear. It offers a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display for exceptional display quality and brightness, with a 144-Hz refresh rate and a quick 3-ms response time, for an 82% screen-to-body ratio.
Coming in at less than $1000 per machine, the Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51) can be considered a budget gaming laptop. However, it can easily run modern games and provide an immersive gaming experience. All of the Nitro series of gaming laptops contain high-quality components designed to last. Click here to find out more.
Here are the specs of the Acer Nitro V 15 ANV15-51 gaming laptop:
* Processor: Intel Core i5-13420H
* Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 (6 GB GDDR6)
* Display: 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 × 1080) IPS display with 144-Hz refresh rate
* RAM: 8 GB DDR5 (upgradable to 32GB)
* Storage: 512 GB SSD (PCIe Gen4, 16 Gb/s, NVMe)
* Operating System: Windows 11 Home
* Ports: 1 × USB 3.2 Gen 1 port with power-off charging, 2 × USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, 1 × Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 port, HDMI, and 1 × USB Type-C port (Thunderbolt)
* Battery: 57 Wh
What to Do If Your SMB Gets Hacked
In a world where much of everyday business takes place online, no company can remain truly free from cybersecurity threats. These virtual attacks do not stop in seemingly more lucrative multinational conglomerates–in fact, studies have shown that SMBs can be more vulnerable to attacks due to the lack of a strong IT infrastructure, with around 43% of SMBs being the victim of cyber attacks, and a whopping 61% of SMBs falling prey in 2021. In the face of such a threat, even if your business isn’t suffering from a cybersecurity threat at the moment, it is hugely beneficial to be equipped with the knowledge of what to do in such events.
Let these steps guide you in a cybersecurity attack
Previously, we have covered detailed content on measures to take to strengthen your business’ digital perimeters in a world rampant with cyber insecurities. If you truly find yourself in the predicament of an actual cybersecurity attack, here are some immediate measures to take:
1. Isolate all affected systems
Cyberattacks may start regionally in your business’ IT system and then spread further to freeze the entire system. As such, preventing the malware from spreading is key. Disconnect any compromised devices from the network immediately before further damage is done.
2. Contact IT professionals immediately
Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and it often takes proper, specialist IT training to diagnose, address, and terminate an attack. Gather experts in your IT team who may be knowledgeable of such events; if you do not have an in-house tech team or do not have employees within your business who can adequately manage cyberattacks, contact verified external experts (try to have a list of trusted contacts ready even when not under attack). Immediacy is key: cybercriminals can exploit a business’ vulnerability in a matter of just seconds, and they can compromise enterprises in a sheer few minutes. Cybercriminals also take advantage of holiday seasons to make moves, catching business owners off-guard. As such, it is necessary to stay alert all-year round.
3. Keep all helpful evidence of the attack
In the heat of panic during a cyberattack, it may be instinctive to delete everything. Remember that doing so would make it difficult to compile evidence when reporting criminal activity, and would render it challenging to determine the cause of the data breach. Therefore, do not dispose of any logs or data that may be key in a later investigation.
4. Make changes to system credentials
To protect your data and avoid further damage, it is mandatory to change IT credentials as quickly as possible. Bear in mind to reset passwords across all systems, and crucially, ensure that the two-factor authentication is enabled and functioning.
In the next phase, communicate and report the incident
After taking the above steps, when the incident has cooled down, communicate and report the cyberattack. Multiple parties should be kept in the loop, including:
1. Local and/or national authorities
Contact your local or national cybercrime unit for investigation, preparing all evidence and details needed before doing so. Sometimes more than one organization is affected under the hands of the same cybercriminals, so swift action can be beneficial. Keep in mind your regional compliance rules when it comes to reporting data breaches.
All employees of the business must also be aware of the cyberattack. Subsequent steps for them must be clear and employees should be encouraged to speak up should they have observed any key information or know anything about the attack.
3. Stakeholders and partners
Stakeholders have a financial interest in the business and any major event or action must be reported truthfully and thoroughly. While it may be difficult to communicate the news of a cyberattack, transparency is key; failure to do so would lead to unwanted reputational damage on top of the already tangible cybersecurity issue.
Remember that reporting cyberattacks is often a legal requirement, especially if sensitive information on clients has been compromised. In the USA for example, some entities are obligated to inform the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of any cyber and ransomware attacks. Crucially, this has to be reported within 72 hours from the time that the attack was suspected to happen.
Then, assess and rectify cyber damage
1. Determine the level of cyber damage
Before fully going back to business, there is a need to determine the extent of the cyberattack and what exact data has been compromised. What data was accessed and what others were stolen? What can be done in relation to the loss? Conduct an analysis of the vulnerability that was exploited and what cyberattack implies for the business going forward.
2. Patch and secure
The next step would be to patch and secure–that is, ensure everything work-related– software applications and systems, are well updated. Once the root of the data breach is identified, reflect and try to close the vulnerability in hopes of preventing similar attacks going forward.
3. Backup and restore work files
Files contain data that lie at the heart of the business, and they need to be backed regularly to prevent any potential loss from cyberattacks. To do this strategically, restore systems using the most recent clean backup and also remind employees to develop the habit of checking file backups.
Finally, reflect further and invest in the prevention of future cyberattacks
1. Ensure thorough cybersecurity training is in place
In many cases, cybersecurity happens as a result of negligence. The safety of a business would be more robust if all employees, regardless of their roles, were aware of the many forms that cybersecurity can take, steps to prevent a cyber attack, and what to do in the event of one. It is therefore key for employees to undergo rigid training on cybersecurity. Effective training is not easy to develop, however, so it is crucial to design a memorable program that would make a lasting impression in terms of steps to take.
2. Invest appropriate funds in security
While seemingly costly, cybersecurity is not a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have for businesses. Here are some good tools to get started:
* Security Information and information and event management (SIEM) technology software– this can monitor real-time security alerts and manage incidents
* Antivirus software and firewalls
* Intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems (IDS & IPS)
* Encryption tools
* Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
* Acer Secured-Core PCs
In addition to having this basic toolkit, be sure to engage with regular security audits and cybersecurity assessments, and stay alert at all times.
Your business's cybersecurity: Be proactive, but still be prepared for the worst with Acer’s Secured-Core PC laptops
Cyberattacks are costly and businesses cannot afford for them to happen– they incur financial loss, heavily disrupt operations, cause intellectual property loss, and even may cost a business its hard-earned reputation. It is not enough to only be proactive– the worst can happen even to the most careful of businesses. Here at Acer Corner, we have already introduced seven cybersecurity tools to avoid falling prey to cyberattacks in times of peace, but for sustainability, businesses still have to be well-equipped for the unexpected.
Although there isn’t a single, omnipotent device that can ward off all cyber attacks, there is good reason to trust Acer’s thoughtfully designed secured-core PC laptops. Acer’s secured-core PCs show good promise in giving multiple layers of protection from cyber attacks. Firstly, their hardware-based security features can play a considerable role in blocking out cybercrime attempts; using secure chips that can protect encryption keys, sensitive and critical data are in safe hands. These PCs also come with features that safeguard the firmware: the UEFI Secure Boot ensures that only trusted software can be loaded when a device starts, and the Measured Boot looks out for any tampering of firmware. Crucially, its Dynamic Root of Trust measurement can ensure that a device is in a secure state before it gains access to any sensitive data.
Fortifying your business’ cyber safety even further, these Acer secured-core PCs also come with Acer ProShield Plus– a built-in application that protects devices against unauthorized access, supported exclusively on Acer devices. A separate software suite with other useful cyber security services can also be found with Acer ProShield Plus Service in the Microsoft Store. Coming with strong compliance with HIPAA and GDPR data protection regulations, your business can also count on Acer’s secured-core PCs to be in good hands when it comes to cyber law.
Reliable and critically built with advanced technology, Acer’s secured-core PCs are designed to help your business navigate today’s complex cybersecurity landscape. The safety of your business is uncompromisable, so explore today what this series of devices can do to protect the cyber integrity of your business.
How to Protect Your Work Device in Public Spaces
Fueled by globalization and the rise of the internet, the world is more connected than ever before. Global organizations spanning cities and countries work seamlessly using technology to support working beyond borders. Remote work options are also increasingly popular, with many company bosses realizing they can trust their employees to work remotely from anywhere, dramatically cutting down the costs of running a physical office. In the 90s, remote work options were almost unheard of. Fast forward around 30 years and remote workers account for about 40% of the global workforce. With rapid technological advances and an acceptance of remote working, this is due to rise further in years to come.
Moreover, the rising trend of mobile workforces, such as independent contractors, field service technicians, or consultants, who are not tied to a specific workplace is also fueling the need to work on the go. Mobile workforces, or the deskless workforce, comprise around 2.7 billion people worldwide. They have unique needs and uses for technology and require durable machines that support their working lifestyle and the risks associated with using work devices in public spaces. Using questionable public WiFi options or implementing weak security provisions can leave laptops susceptible to hacking or data theft that can negatively impact companies and mobile workers.
Understanding the risks of using work devices in public spaces
Working from a coffee shop or library can provide a much-needed change of scenery. However, using work devices in public spaces can be risky for various reasons.
1. Physical theft
Leaving laptops or technical devices unattended, even just for a few seconds, can result in physical theft. We never know when and where professional criminals or one-off opportunists may be lurking. Along with taking physical devices, thieves also take sensitive files and company data along with them, which can put companies at risk. Although packing up a laptop or device every time we need a bathroom break or take a quick phone call can be troublesome, it is crucial to avoid falling victim to theft.
2. Visual hacking
Visual hacking is unlawfully taking someone else’s information by spying on their screen. Confidential information is everywhere — and so are potential peeping Toms. Visual hacking may occur because of employee negligence or lack of awareness about this type of low-tech method. All it takes is for thieves to set eyes on one piece of sensitive information to access work emails or compromise company accounts.
3. Unauthorized network access
Unauthorized network access is where criminals access networks, systems, or data without permission. This kind of attack can have catastrophic consequences for companies, especially if financial or secret information is hacked and stolen. Such data breaches take an average of 207 days to identify and 70 days to contain, giving hackers ample time to wreak havoc. Moreover, the average cost of a data breach in 2023 was USD $4.45 million, jumping 15% over the past three years, and causing unimaginable financial damage to organizations.
Malware attacks describe malicious software designed to damage a computer, server, or network. These vicious attacks can go undetected while hackers steal sensitive personal and company data. Some malware attacks, like so-called evil maid attacks, occur when devices are left unattended and describe hackers installing viruses that redirect account credentials and passwords back to themselves. Whether hackers inject malware into devices through viruses or other methods, the aim is almost always to steal sensitive or incriminating data to hurt others.
Physical security measures
Now we know about potential security risks when working in public spaces, what can we do about them? Although we cannot prevent criminals from stealing things, we can implement steps to protect ourselves and our devices.
1. Locking devices
Putting something under lock and key is a traditional but effective method of keeping things safe. Laptop locks prevent devices from being stolen by securing them to a specific area. One end of the lock slides into a device’s lock slot, while the other wraps around an immovable object like a table leg or a pillar. Laptop locks are perhaps visually unappealing but provide a strong deterrent for potential thieves. Acer TravelMate laptops come with a Kensington™ lock connection, allowing users to safely secure laptops to a solid object.
2. Visibility and awareness
Keeping devices in view at all times may seem like obvious advice, but it can be tempting to leave them unattended for just a few minutes while we take a bathroom break or go to collect a drink at a coffee shop counter. However, the risk of device theft really is not worth it, and it is advisable to always keep items in view. Being vigilant and avoiding hanging laptop bags on the back of a chair also prevents chance thieves from sneaking devices when our backs are literally turned. Preparing for the worst-case scenario helps us be aware of and protect ourselves from potential dangers.
3. Secure storage
Traveling for work can be exciting and exhausting, but that is no excuse for sloppy laptop security. Laptops and other devices should be safely secured when not in use to prevent theft from hotel rooms or company conference rooms. For example, putting tech devices in a hotel room safe is a great way to keep items secure while outside.
Digital security practices
Alongside physical security measures, there are also various digital security practices we can take to protect our work devices in public spaces.
1. Strong authentication
Authentication means ensuring that only specific users can access company information and resources. It is a crucial aspect of cybersecurity as hackers are fixated on gaining access to sensitive company systems and data. Authentication protects systems, data, networks, websites, and other applications from attacks. However, weak authentication processes may not adequately safeguard devices, leading to data breaches or the installation of malware.
Passwords are the most commonly used form of authentication. A strong password that includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters is more difficult for cybercriminals to guess. Many devices now facilitate biometric authentication using biological features like a face or fingerprint scan. To prevent phishing attacks, Acer TravelMate devices allow users to log in using a combination of biometrics sensors and credentials like a strong password for ultimate security.
Data encryption is a crucial step in safeguarding personal information. It is the process of transforming regular information into an illegible script known as encoded ciphertext, which cannot be understood by unauthorized parties. Users with a unique access key can decrypt data, reverting it to its original legible form. This provides an additional and robust layer of security and ensures that sensitive data is inaccessible to unauthorized users. Acer TravelMate laptops provide full disk encryption capabilities, offering additional data security.
3. Regular updates
Regularly updating operating systems and applications fixes bugs and protects software and operating systems against vulnerabilities. Hackers and cybercriminals take advantage of such vulnerabilities and exploit them to steal data or gain control of computers. Performing regular updates and properly rebooting computers can fix errors and shield devices from potential cyber-attacks.
Connecting to unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi may be convenient, but it can be risky. While coffee shops, airports, and train station bosses may think they are providing convenience to users, unsecured networks are a field day for cybercriminals.
1. Secure Wi-Fi practices
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks can leave users vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks. Cybercriminals can use Wi-Fi snooping and sniffing tactics which include purchasing devices to facilitate eavesdropping on Wi-Fi signals to view everything we are doing online. They may be able to see our recently viewed web pages and even information we have entered online, allowing them to steal sensitive credentials or login details. When using public Wi-Fi, it is better to avoid entering personal information and only use secure URL addresses beginning with HTTP or HTTPS. Websites with HTTP addresses are often unsecured, meaning our personal data may be visible to others.
2. Use a VPN
A staggering 80% of data breaches involve information stored on the cloud. However, employees or remote workers may have no choice but to access company information and cloud storage on public Wi-Fi connections when on the go. Virtual Private Networks, known as VPNs, are a handy way to reduce security risks. VPNs add an extra layer of protection by keeping IP addresses hidden while encrypting information. The Acer Connect ENDURO M3 5G offers SIM-free network connections with robust authentication and cryptographic strength, and built-in VPN functionality for maximum protection.
When protecting our work devices in public spaces, we should also consider implementing privacy practices to minimize the chances of prying eyes.
1. Screen privacy
Shoulder surfing occurs when attackers can view device screens and obtain sensitive information. Such attacks may be as simple as sneakily standing behind unsuspecting victims or using optical devices such as small video recorders to obtain data. Investing in a privacy screen protector helps prevent visual hacking attacks. Moreover, the Acer TravelMate’s optional privacy panel protects screens by obscuring angles beyond 90 degrees, safeguarding sensitive data from shoulder surfers.
2. Sound awareness
Aside from visual awareness, we must also be aware of discussing sensitive information in public places. Reading out private data or company passwords is an absolute no-go. If discussing such information is absolutely necessary, workers should use privacy-focused earbuds or headsets to minimize the risk of eavesdroppers.
Training and policies
Adequate staff training is vital for workers to understand the importance of implementing security practices. If workers do not know how to protect themselves and their data, they may fall victim to cyber-attacks that compromise sensitive data. Bosses can keep employees abreast of cybersecurity measures by sending regular informative emails and holding training days. Moreover, companies should develop clear policies regarding the use of devices in public spaces to minimize risks of avoidable data leaks.
Using work devices in public spaces is risky and can leave users susceptible to hacking attacks. Workers should be mindful when discussing personal or company information and never leave devices unattended in public areas. Cyber attacks may not be a result of malware or other viruses but because of visual attacks or shoulder surfing. As such, workers need to be aware of the different types of cybersecurity and how to protect themselves through training and policies. Investing in accessories such as screen protectors or privacy-focused earbuds can keep us safe from data leaks. Moreover, the Acer TravelMate incorporates a plethora of security features, making it a suitable choice for professionals on the move.
How Esports Prepares Students for the Future
Esports is competitive video gaming played at a professional level. While playing video games has historically been viewed as a leisure activity, modern competitive gaming shares many similarities with traditional sports like football. International leagues, highly paid teams, fans, as well as lucrative sponsorships are all features of the esports (electronic sports) scene today. Esports is a great platform to help students develop skills for their future. From education to socialization, and career opportunities, the diverse benefits of esports make it something that schools need to consider for holistic student development and future preparedness.
What is esports?
With its origins in late 70s arcade gaming, esports is now predominantly PC based. Esports players are highly trained game playing athletes, often specializing in a specific video game title. These titles include video games that are popular with the game playing public, creating a huge fanbase for competitive esports. Media coverage, coaches, team identity and branding, as well as dedicated training facilities are all integral to the contemporary esports landscape.
Since the 80s, consoles and PCs have made video games available to children in their homes, 24/7. Due to the sedentary nature of gaming, as well as the questionable content and benefits of playing video games, many children have been chastised along the lines of, “You’re never going to get paid for sitting on the couch playing video games.”
Now might be a good time for parents and educators alike to adjust their preconceptions regarding video games. In this article we will discuss the role of esports in education and how esports can help to increase students’ academic performance, as well as encourage socialization and emotional well-being. Furthermore, esports can equip students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills that are in ever increasing demand in the digital economy.
To better understand the role of esports in schools today, let’s first briefly cover its history and growth. While esports may seem like a recent arrival, it has actually been around for a while. The first Spacewar video game tournament was held at Stanford in 1972, and since then, esports has evolved into a global phenomenon.
Jumping forward to 1980, Atari’s National Space Invaders Championship attracted over 10,000 competitors, crowning Rebecca Ann Heineman (née William Salvador Heineman) as the first national video game champion. Early 1990s esports competitions included the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, where players competed at Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. As the 90s progressed, increased accessibility to cheaper, more powerful computer hardware as well as the explosion of the internet provided platforms where gamers could compete. Esports classics including Counter-Strike (1999) originated during this fertile period in network gaming. Widespread availability of powerful PCs and fast internet access has helped the global popularity of esports to soar in recent decades, greatly contributing to the ongoing growth of the industry.
Growth of esports today
The global esports market is projected to grow from $1.45 billion in 2022 to $1.72 billion this year. Aside from its economic force, esports also plays an important role in connecting players, fans and the esports community worldwide. The dynamic esports viewing environment includes social media interactions, live chats and VR (virtual reality) experiences. The broadcast, competitive nature of esports encourages the development of digital literacy among professional players and fans alike. This in turn has created career opportunities within the burgeoning esports field, from content creators to commentators. On top of this, esports showcases technological innovations, influencing the wider digital landscape and bringing gaming and esports into mainstream culture.
Video games and trends come and go, but looking at this list of the most popular esports games by viewership, there are several titles that have endured the sands of time, adapting and innovating over the years. Esports games at the top of the roster include League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Valorant, and Dota 2.
Esports vs. traditional gaming
While many parents, educators and people in positions of responsibility may still frown upon gaming, the truth is that gaming tournaments and esports in general can actually enhance students’ academic performance.
Firstly, at-home gaming is what springs to mind for many non-gamers when they hear the word esports. Home gaming is the activity of playing video games in the comfort of your home, in contrast to public gaming in esports areas or arcades. While many esports competitors do compete from home, organized esports competitions are big events held in large arenas, with multiple large screens, audience and commentators. Tournaments and peer connections are a stand out feature of esports: students compete alongside team members both virtually and in person. Their teammates and competitors could be in the same classroom, or on the other side of the world.
Many educational institutions now recognize the benefits of esports in schools. High school and collegiate esports programs provide gaming education to students, who then represent their schools in competition. Beyond competition, esports can also be integrated into the wider curriculum. By incorporating gaming into STEM classes, subject specific skills, as well as teamwork and leadership skills can all be nurtured through esports in the school setting. In order to organize and host competitions for the ever increasing number of schools with esports teams, several gaming organizations have been established. The main high school and college esports gaming organizations are the High School Esports League (HSEL) and National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Academic and personal development through esports
Esports aren’t easy. They stimulate students’ cognitive abilities, including critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and strategic planning. These are transferable skills required by learners, the future employees in the digital landscape of the 21st century. Team based esports require players to strategize and cooperate as a seamless unit, this can help students to develop teamwork and leadership skills, applicable in academic and professional settings. Communication is also a key part of successful esports campaigns, both during the heat of the game, and after the arena is closed. Sportsmanship is another skill that can only be learned through experience, and esports tournaments are a place where players quickly learn to celebrate success with humility and accept defeat with dignity.
Schools with esports programs also reap the rewards of social and emotional benefits. Esports creates a sense of community and belonging by helping individual students with a passion for gaming to connect with like-minded peers. Teenagers and college students alike benefit greatly from positive mentors and role models: esports facilitates these personal connections across various game titles and interests. Esports tournaments operate on a local and global scale, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, countries and cultures. Unlike traditional track and field sports, esports players’ shared passion for gaming overcomes gender and age barriers as well as physical limitations.
Players and parents take note! Gaming in moderation, as part of a healthy lifestyle is the key to reaping the benefits we have discussed above. Excessive gaming and esports can negate most, if not all of the advantages, resulting in decreased academic performance, and even antisocial behavior.
Career opportunities in the booming esports industry
There are many esports career pathways available in the industry, from professional players to behind the scenes developers and streamers. First, let's look at educational pathways through esports. Esports tournaments offer significant scholarships and an increasing number of universities recruit students to participate on their esports teams. HSEL alone has distributed over $600,000 in scholarships, and hundreds of colleges and universities across America now offer esports scholarships to promising players. The time is now for aspiring student gamers to follow both their gaming and educational dreams.
Beyond college, esports helps students develop STEM skills that are highly sought after in today’s digital economy. By exploring STEM concepts, students holistically gain confidence with digital technology. In line with their interest in esports, pursuits such as keeping up to date with computers can stretch as far as learning about building computers, and even video game programming. STEM skills aside, esports educate students to think critically, approach problem solving creatively, and use information in innovative ways. Esports requires teamwork, collaboration and effective strategizing, all skills valued by employers worldwide. These soft skills and professional skills can open doors in many fields, from technology to catering.
Many student athletes aspire to play in the NFL, or MLB but in reality, few do. Similarly in esports, for many players, the ultimate goal is to compete professionally at Super Smash Brothers, or League of Legends. While not everyone will be the next Johan Sundstein, aka N0tail, there are many other rewarding career opportunities in the esports industry. Like traditional sports, esports needs coaches, team managers, as well as broadcasters and journalists, and streamers. Esports event organizers, hosts and marketing and video game development are also crucial roles in the swiftly growing industry.
The importance of the right equipment in esports
For amateur and professional gamers alike, access to specialized gaming PCs can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Regular PCs are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of general-purpose computing tasks. Perfectly suitable for everyday work tasks, most regular PCs feature integrated graphics, standard CPUs as well as sufficient RAM for multitasking. These regular PCs, however, may not suffice when it comes to the requirements of modern gaming.
Gaming PCs feature dedicated graphics cards to consistently render high quality graphics, and higher end CPUs to process the large scale, intricate environments of modern games. To ensure smooth, glitch free gameplay, gaming PCs feature larger amounts of RAM, as well as SSD storage to reduce loading time. During esports events, one small glitch, lag in gameplay, or faulty controller can result in competition loss, at no fault of the player. Reputation and confidence aside, cash prizes can also be at stake in the higher echelons of competitive esports. Having the right equipment is crucial to a successful esports program.
Many schools simply don’t have the budget to splash out on gaming PCs, monitors, keyboards and controllers. Starting from the ground up, budget conscious esports programs may choose to opt for refurbished gaming PCs. These are pre-owned PCs that have been professionally refurbished, offering gaming performance at a fraction of the cost of new hardware, while reducing electronic waste.
Acer’s gaming devices
Acer, the official sponsor of the Intel Extreme Masters esports tournament, the longest running global pro gaming tour in the world, currently has two gaming product lines for esports: Acer Nitro and Acer Predator. These lines both offer gaming laptops as well as monitors, desktops and peripherals. The Nitro series offers high performance at a reasonable price, while Predator offers premium technology designed to provide exceptional gaming experiences.
First launched in 2017, Acer Nitro is a series of budget gaming computers for gamers who demand high-performance machines at an approachable price point. The Nitro series includes desktops, laptops, monitors, and other accessories and competes with other midrange computers. Acer also has a wide range of gaming monitors and a desktop machine under the Nitro brand.
Nitro devices are priced in the mainstream range and Predator devices are in the premium range. Acer Nitro provides a decent balance between price and performance, while Acer Predator offers pro-level gaming performance and superior technology. Curious which of these lines suits your school’s gaming needs? Find out more in this deep dive into the differences between the Nitro and Predator ranges.
Today’s booming esports industry has evolved into a multi-billion dollar market, forecast for further growth. Much more than just playing games, esports has an important role to play in preparing students for their future. Students have a unique opportunity to get involved with esports, which can benefit their cognitive abilities, and foster teamwork and leadership skills. What’s more, the borderless, international esports community connects players regardless of location, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, and overcoming barriers of gender, race and age.
Esports offers various career pathways, including significant scholarships and chances to represent colleges in esports events. STEM skills that esports helps to develop are crucial in the increasingly digital economy. Esports are also a key part of holistic student development as well as future preparedness. Gaming really can open doors to a range of potential careers.
To ensure optimal performance, access to specialized gaming PCs is crucial for esports players of all levels. From refurbished gaming PCs to laptops in the Acer Nitro and Predator range, the right gaming PC provides students with a solid foundation to hone their esports skills on.
Mastering AI Tools: Leveraging Copilot for Modern Education
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the ways we live and work, but is it also impacting the way we learn? Coding lessons via Minecraft Education, and other classroom-based technology, AI and education go hand-in-hand to enhance the learning experience for students. Chatbots like ChatGPT have revolutionized the way we communicate and acquire data. From verse in the style of Shakespeare to dating advice and answering test questions, users can receive synthesized online data from various sources by entering a few simple prompts. With AI in education, teachers can streamline their lesson plans and create more interesting and appealing class content. Likewise, young learners can utilize AI to enhance the learning process and gain a better understanding of complex topics.
The evolution of chatbots in education
From business to education, the possibilities of AI functions are endless. AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT enable natural communication between humans and machines through a series of learning algorithms that are trained to give lifelike responses. Chatbots are pre-trained on vast amounts of data about various topics so they can accurately respond to most questions or prompts. Although these tools are relatively new, they are securing a place in our regular daily lives.
The new Copilot search engine has an integrated AI-powered Copilot Chat function, helping users achieve more accurate, insightful, and interactive search results. Using GPT-4, a large multimodal model from OpenAI, Copilot lets users choose their preferred conversation style depending on their needs. GPT-4 displays human-like performance on professional and academic topics, making it a powerful artificial intelligence application in education. For example, GPT-4 passed a simulated bar exam and achieved a score within the top 10% of test takers. By incorporating GPT-4, Copilot is a powerful and thought-provoking AI assistant with unlimited classroom applications.
However, there is a debate regarding academic integrity and AI tools, particularly chatbots, that can produce topic-specific assignments and solve complex problems within just a few seconds. Some schools have even blocked the use of AI technology altogether. AI tools should not replace academic learning but act as an assistant that can help brainstorm ideas. Information produced by AI tools can provide a reference for academic aid, but users should be wary of completely relying on its accuracy. When used as an assistant, AI tools like Copilot can help with studying, writing, and research, just like websites and online tools already do. It cannot replace human thinking and creativity but can give us ideas for expansion.
The potential of Copilot in education
Copilot is a powerful learning assistant designed to support students and prepare them for their future careers. Embracing AI gives students a head start as many businesses are now adopting AI tools such as Microsoft 365 with Copilot.
Rather than encouraging reliance, Copilot is an assistant that cultivates critical thinking. By learning how to incorporate Copilot into classroom education and teaching, educators can embrace AI technology to enhance the learning experience. Of course, chatbot users should verify AI-generated content to ensure the accuracy and relevance of data. Furthermore, students should cite Copilot as a source if they use it as an assistant for academic work.
How to use Copilot in the classroom
Microsoft’s Copilot is one of the many examples of artificial intelligence in education. It can be used as a tutor or persona to take on specific roles such as a debate partner or a school professor. This helps students expand upon and consider their ideas from various perspectives, enhancing critical thinking skills. Furthermore, it can generate quizzes, exams, and lesson plans to assist students and teachers with class preparation. It also helps teachers create modern and culturally relevant materials to keep students engaged while learning.
The tool can also assist non-English speakers with their language learning. As many students speak other languages outside of the classroom, a learning tool to support conversation and writing skills is invaluable. Moreover, Copilot also acts as a translator, helping non-English speakers improve their understanding of class content, including tricky grammar rules and vocabulary.
Expanding the role of Copilot in teaching and learning
Microsoft’s Copilot is a versatile tool that boosts productivity and efficiency for teachers and students. It can be used to create educational materials like class notes, summaries, and study guides, reducing the workload for teachers while maintaining access to consistent and high-quality resources. Copilot can also help faculty members produce fascinating and academically stimulating debate prompts, questions, and debate topics, forming online or forum discussion topics designed to enhance the critical thinking ability of students.
Copilot provides personalized feedback to students on assignments, projects, and exams. The tool’s natural language processing capabilities let students receive lifelike feedback that can help further advance their studies. Moreover, Copilot facilitates peer learning by producing questions or scenarios for students to elaborate on and discuss. This promotes teamwork and joint problem-solving, helping to prepare students for the working world.
Copilot and modern educational tools
Copilot is an AI-powered chat service created for organizations and schools. It encourages students and workers to be more creative and efficient in their tasks and allows them to quickly generate content, summarize documents, and learn new skills. It can even teach coding and other complex topics. Most importantly, Copilot ensures data security and will not leak user, school, or business data outside the organization. As information is not saved, security-conscious companies can rest assured knowing that Copilot advocates advanced data protection. Copilot can create graphs, charts, and images, along with data specifications and pricing.
Acer’s range of TravelMate laptops supports Windows 11 Pro, which boosts efficiency. Data security is a huge concern for us all and is taken seriously by Microsoft and Acer. Both Copilot and Acer TravelMate laptops promote data security with features like data encryption and biometric authentication.
Furthermore, TravelMate laptops are equipped with powerful processors and HD webcams to ensure video calls and online classes go smoothly. Copilot integrates with TravelMate laptops to support educational institutions as a learning tool to help students with complex topics, generate content, and analyze data. They are also lightweight and durable so students can use them easily on the go.
With tools like Copilot, AI for educators is here to stay. AI has earned its place in modern education and is a useful tool for productivity and efficiency. By creating personalized lesson plans, materials, and quizzes, teachers can focus less on ad-hoc tasks and more on providing a quality learning experience for students. Technology can help teachers remain current and modern while delivering classes in ways that are relevant for today’s young learners. When used correctly, AI is to be embraced and not feared, and teachers can embrace and master these tools to create a more dynamic and effective learning experience. Moreover, with consistent access to quality data resources, students can use AI tools to enhance their learning experience. Acer’s range of TravelMate laptops supports teachers and students in their AI journeys, offering fast processors and various features to boost productivity. The future of AI education is now, and the best is yet to come.
10 Best Destination Dupes for Digital Nomads
Have you heard of the term “destination dupe”? One of the hottest buzzwords in travel currently, the dupe trend has become a huge hit on TikTok. But what exactly is a “destination dupe”?
For the uninitiated, “dupe” stands for “duplicate,” and the idea is to provide an alternative travel option for a specific city. Essentially, this trend assumes that instead of going to city A, you can have a similar experience in city B with fewer crowds and a lower budget. While no two places are the same, two different locations can provide similar attractions like beaches, a growing tech scene, or abundant cultural amenities.
In this article, we’ll present ten different “destination dupes” and explain why the alternative travel option could be a better choice for digital nomads.
10 Best Destination Dupes
1. Instead of Bali, Indonesia, try Da Nang, Vietnam
It’s undeniable that Bali is a more popular destination compared to Da Nang. The lure of the place is even captured in the novel and movie Eat Pray Love, where a woman travels to Bali to find some sort of spiritual peace. Although that image of Bali as a holy, pristine place is still alive and well today, the throngs of tourists may obstruct your view of the most important sites.
If you want a similar experience to Bali that’s a bit more off the beaten path, try Da Nang. Da Nang is a seaside town with a vibrant cultural history, providing all of the beachside relaxation and cultural exploration that Bali is known for. In addition, its growing digital nomad community means you’ll be able to strike a balance between feeling at home and integrating with the local community.
2. Instead of Lisbon, Portugal, try Tbilisi, Georgia
The Portuguese capital has become a digital nomad hub of sorts in recent years. Sometimes compared to San Francisco with its mountainous urban landscape and iconic cable car system, Lisbon’s charms have attracted many remote workers to sojourn in the city.
Lisbon has recently suffered from the consequences of its own success, however: with a housing crisis that led the government to discontinue its Golden Visa program, digital nomads are looking for a similar alternative.
Tbilisi, Georgia might just be the cure. Tbilisi is rich in quaintly beautiful architecture and authentic cultural experiences while being easy on the wallet. With its digital nomad community growing, Tbilisi should be high on any digital nomad’s list.
3. Instead of Berlin, Germany, try Krakow, Poland
Berlin is famous (some might say infamous) for its eclectic cultural scene and nightlife. Formerly the city split in half by the Berlin Wall, it’s now turned into a playground for techno lovers and indie artists.
Krakow, Poland offers a similarly lively cultural scene that rivals that of Berlin. With attractions like the world-class Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow and the Wawel Cathedral, Krakow offers a wide variety of cultural amenities to take advantage of as a digital nomad. If you like Berlin but want something a little more unique, Krakow could be for you.
4. Instead of Chiang Mai, Thailand, try Medellín, Colombia
Thailand is a common choice for both tourists and digital nomads alike, and it’s not hard to see why: Thailand is where exquisite temples meet modern shopping malls and delicious street food. Chiang Mai in particular is a thriving digital nomad hub, with a wide selection of cafés and leisure spots to meet digital workers’ needs.
If you want a similar experience but would rather brush up on your Spanish, Medellín might be the place for you. It boasts a low cost of living and a sizable community of digital nomads who are attracted by the pleasant climate in the “City of Eternal Spring.”
5. Instead of Barcelona, Spain, try Valencia, Spain
Barcelona is an iconic city filled with awe-inspiring sights, including the in-progress Sagrada Família, the whimsical Park Güell and much more. It seems that everywhere you turn in the city, you happen upon another Gaudí masterpiece blended seamlessly into the urban environment around it.
Though the Catalonian capital has a lot going for it, it’s also quite an expensive city. For digital nomads who are drawn to Spain but aren’t set on a specific place, Valencia could be a great choice. Also situated along the Mediterranean coast, Valencia offers a similar beach feel with less hustle and bustle and a lower cost of living. As a plus, Valencia is also considered the birthplace of paella, arguably Spain’s most famous dish.
6. Instead of Austin, Texas, try Guadalajara, Mexico
Austin has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the US for several years now. As many tech workers have moved out of California, many of them landed in Texas and specifically Austin. Nowadays, Austin is a city with a solid tech scene that attracts people due to its abundant recreation opportunities, vibrant music scene, and pure weirdness.
That being said, Austin is now experiencing some growing pains, among them a highly rising cost of living and congested roadways. If you want the tech scene and cultural diversity of Austin without some of its drawbacks, Guadalajara, Mexico is a great option. In Guadalajara, you can enjoy cultural amenities like the Guadalajara International Film Festival and the Guadalajara International Book Fair, one of the largest book exhibitions in the world, at an affordable cost of living.
7. Instead of Tokyo, Japan, try Taipei, Taiwan
Tokyo has long attracted visitors from abroad due to its captivating mixture of traditional and modern. The city impresses visitors with its world-class public transportation system, impeccably clean streets, and delicious street food.
Tokyo is an expensive city, though, and also a crowded one, especially with the rise in tourism in Japan prompted by a weak yen. For those looking for a mix of modern and traditional in an urban setting, Taipei is a great alternative travel option. Its public transportation network rivals that of the larger Tokyo, and its street food options are cheaper and more diverse. All in all, digital nomads can have a similar experience in Taipei for a much lower cost of living.
8. Instead of Dubai, UAE, try Baku, Azerbaijan
Dubai is a city of opulence situated in the middle of the desert. Its Burj Khalifa currently holds the title of tallest building in the world, a representation of Dubai’s ambition and drive. That spirit has certainly been attractive to foreign residents, with a whopping 83% of Dubai’s population born overseas. If you are fascinated by the idea of Dubai but want to try something a bit more authentic, Baku, Azerbaijan may just be the right place for you, especially if you’re an architecture buff.
At the crossroads of East and West, Azerbaijan is a patchwork of the different cultural forces that have passed through the so-called City of Winds. In addition to ancient constructions like the Maiden’s Tower, a mish-mash of modern building styles are waiting to be discovered. Azerbaijan’s second oil boom in 2006 led to a sudden architectural boom that has gifted Baku with a wide variety of architectural wonders, ranging from the Art Nouveau Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature to the Stalinist Government House.
9. Instead of Silicon Valley, USA, try Bangalore, India
Silicon Valley has long been Northern California’s success story. The region is home to a synergy of top-notch educational institutions, motivated professionals and venture capital matched nowhere else in the world. For those who want to join a startup, the Bay Area is one of the best places in the world.
That doesn’t mean that it’s the only place, however. There are plenty of other places that offer great infrastructure for startups while beating the Bay Area on items like cost of living. One of those places is Bangalore, India. Bangalore is India’s tech hub, a place with a high concentration of educated professionals looking to start new businesses. Its cost of living is much lower than that of the Bay Area while still offering a wealth of opportunities, making it a great choice for a digital nomad.
10. Instead of Sydney, Australia, try Wellington, New Zealand
Besides its iconic landmarks such as Bondi Beach and the Harbour Bridge, Sydney is known for its strong coffee culture. Sydney certainly has a lot of positives to attract visitors, but as with many of the locations on this list, many visitors can also mean high prices and large crowds.
For an antipodal city with a similar waterfront vibe and a more relaxed pace of life, why not check out Wellington, the capital of New Zealand? With around half a million residents in the greater Wellington area, the city is large enough to support a wide range of activities and attractions without being overwhelming. Its restaurant and café game also punches way above its weight. For digital nomads searching for a relaxed lifestyle down under, Wellington is a great “dupe” to Sydney.
All in all, no one destination can ever truly compare to another. Each place is unique, shaped by its distinct geography, culture, and history. However, as a digital nomad, it’s always worth the effort to consider new destinations that may be less well known but offer similar advantages. For that reason, “dupes” serve their purpose.