All Autogates and E-Gates In Malaysia Are Now Closed Due To COVID-19 Outbreak

The Immigration Department of Malaysia today has suspended the access to all automated gates at all of the entry points throughout the country. The move was done as part of the government’s effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The temporary closure of these gates was first known through a directive letter that was spread online before it was officially confirmed by the department’s Director-General, Khairul Dzaimee Daud later in the day. The directive applies to all types of automated gates including the Malaysians autogate and foreign visitors e-gate as well as the Malaysian Automated Clearance System (MACS) in Johor.

Despite being a temporary measure, the Immigration Department didn’t provide any specific conclusion date in its announcement. With that, it looks like you might experience longer clearance time at the airport and other entry points throughout the country starting from today onwards.
According to the Ministry of Health, there are currently 50 positive case of COVID-19 in Malaysia. They are part of 93,469 cases that have been detected in 78 countries across the globe up till 6pm Malaysian time today, according to the statistics from World Health Organization.
(Source: Immigration Department of Malaysia.)
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The Rise of Skywalker: Early Versions of Script Explained Palpatine’s Return

It’s been 79 days since the release of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The film received mixed reactions with many criticising its severe lack of explanations and the humungous Sarlacc Pit where the plot lunged into.
One of the many things that irked fans was the return of Palpatine. The Emperor. Darth Sidious. In the six films prior to Disney’s 2015 revival, the hideous visage and ghastly cackle had been a dark thorn in the Force’s side. When the Force awakened, he sat it out, and when The Last Jedi came, absent, he was. But, nonetheless, he was back to wreak havoc in the ninth instalment of the Skywalker saga. OK.
BUT JUST HOW THE HECK DID SHEEV PALPATINE RETURN AFTER PLUNGING AND GOING “BOOM“ INTO TINY SITH BITS – we didn’t see that happen, but you get my drift – AT THE END OF 1983’s RETURN OF THE JEDI?!
Earlier this week, the official The Rise of Skywalker novelisation was released at Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2). Subsequently, excerpts from the book began surfacing online. The revelation soon came that The Emperor was indeed a clone and he was rotting in the said body because it could not contain his Spirit.
At the very same event, long-time Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid commented on the exclusion of the scene from the final product. Here’s what he said (via ScreenRant):
At one point, the script had the line – in that first scene, with Adam [Driver who plays Kylo Ren] – when he says, ‘You’re a clone.’ And I said, in that original script, which is no longer with us, “More than a clone. Less than a man.

Having knowledge of this really pushes my buttons as the film could have simply patched up its biggest plot hole, arguably, with a couple of expository lines. Sure, the hokey-Snokeys in pickle jars could have been THE clue. However, if ambiguity was what the filmmakers were going for, it failed miserably due to how choppy and half-cooked the rest of the narrative turned out to be.
What do you think about this post-release reveal? Does it clear up some head-scratching questions you may have initially had? Leave your cackles in the comments.
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The PlayStation 2 Was Released 20 Years Ago Today

Before you know it, we’ve already entered the second decade of the new millennium. That said, 4 March also marked the day when Sony first released the PlayStation 2 (PS2) in the year 2000. Yes, the console that most current adults longed for when they were kids is now 20 years old.

The PlayStation 2’s Legacy
The PS2 was an advanced video game console when it was released back then. Besides offering better hardware performance than its predecessor, it also featured backward-compatibility that allowed it to play PS1 games with some graphics enhancements. Additionally, it was the first console to feature online connectivity and expanded internal storage, which were sold separately as modules later on.
Throughout its lifetime, the PS2 had brought us major hits such as the Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Grand Theft Auto 3, Final Fantasy X, Silent Hill 2, and more. The console also birthed new franchises at the time including God of War, Devil May Cry, Kingdom Hearts, and even Guitar Hero. MMORPGs such as Final Fantasy XI were a big hit on the PS2 as well, thanks to its ability to connect to the internet.
Sony would later release the Slimline models of the PS2 in 2004 which significantly reduced the size of the console. This variant of the console gradually replaced the older “Phat” models thanks to its compact size and slightly improved hardware.
The PS2 Slim was introduced in 2004
Budget-Friendly DVD Player
Despite its credibility as a home video game console, the PS2 was regarded as a worthwhile DVD player as well. According to Famitsu, non-gamer Japanese consumers actually bought the device just for that feature alone. And because it was cheaper than buying an actual player.
DVD technology was still considered new back in the late 90s and early noughties, therefore it was common to find players priced over JPY64,000 (~RM2,490). Whereas, a brand new PlayStation 2 would instead only cost a Japanese consumer JPY39,800 (~RM1,550). Not a bad deal considering the fact that they also get the ability to play video games with it too.
The PS2’s Memory Card. Yes, 8MB was generous back in the day.
Undisputed Champion (For Now)
The console was also one of Sony’s longest running devices in the market, with production finally discontinued in 2013 – over a dozen years after its launch. Games for the console were still released until the same year, while its repair services in Japan only ended in 2018. Yes, it had lived long enough to see first announcement of the PlayStation 4.
Suffice to say, Sony’s sequel to the original PlayStation console was very well received by gamers around the world. So much so that the PS2 was crowned the best-selling console of all time, with 155 million units sold worldwide.
Sony made a lot of hype for just the logo…
The PlayStation brand had celebrated its 25th anniversary back in April 2019, while the PS5 was also officially announced in October. The fifth generation Sony video game console is expected to launch by late 2020.
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The Invisible Man Composer Breaks Down Film’s Brilliant Music

The Invisible Man is an excellent horror film. It’s thrilling from start to finish. Director Leigh Whannell understands that merely suggesting that someone/something could be watching and stalking can strike more fear in you than just blatantly showing you a CGI monster in a mirror. The film is atmospheric and enrapturing. What also makes the movie great is Composer Benjamin Wallfisch’s music composition. Wallfisch alternates between silence and rich Hans Zimmer-ian scores to enhance the atmosphere and keep us at the edge of our seats.
The opening sequence alone is an excellent example. First, you hear the sound of waves. What follows is complete silence, as the protagonist walks around the house quietly while her man sleeps, gathering her things in an attempt to escape. The tension builds and builds and then we hear a dog bark, followed by a rich and heavy score that elevates our heart rate.
In an interview with Collider, Wallfisch mentioned that director Leigh Whannell wanted the music of The Invisible Man to not just be an accompanying piece but a character in and of itself.
Leigh’s vision was to have the music very much as a character, and not just as underscore. We really wanted the score to take an active role in the experience of the film. A lot of it was about articulating and using silence in a very rhythmic way. By that I mean: when there is music, it tends to be very left field, bold and quite extreme. So you almost don’t trust the absence of music when there’s silence. By doing that the silence almost becomes a musical event. There are very careful structural choices that were made to maximize that.

Apart from that, Wallfisch also talked about how he used music to add texture to the characters.
First there is a cello theme which you hear when she finds out Adrian is dead, and at a couple of other key moments, and secondly a piano theme which has an insistent, building quality. This is also heard only a handful of times in the score, but is meant to convey her inner strength.
And then, in contrast, Adrian Griffin, The Invisible Man, his world is entirely electronic and very aggressive. The sound which Leigh and I were trying to go for him was an electronic sound where things are pushed to the limit in terms of aggression at times, but also something very quiet and indistinct, so it almost creeps up on you. Adrian has a kind of synth leitmotif, something we called a ‘growl’. It shifts in tone throughout and gives him presence even when you can’t see him. It was really fun to have the string orchestra and the electronic elements to the score co-exist in that way.
The Invisible Man opens in Malaysian cinemas 5 March 2020.
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Alleged Google Pixel 4a Images Leak; May Come With Punch Hole Display

Google I/O 2020 may be cancelled, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the search company could be prepping the mid-range variants of last year’s Pixel 4 series. Recently, images of what could be the Pixel 4a made its way online, which means that a launch could be imminent.
The images appear to have first been posted by Slashleaks. In one of the images, we can see the front of the alleged Pixel 4a and its use of a punch hole display, with said punch hole located in a pretty unorthodox position to the top-left of the screen.
It’s unorthodox to us because most smartphone manufacturers to date typically have the punch hole situated either to far-left or far-right corner of the display or simply place it smack dab in the middle of the display’s forehead. Also, the choice of using a punch hole display is also an odd choice in its own right, considering that both the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL employ a thick top bezel.

On that note, the sides of the supposed Pixel 4a’s display are also more rounded and seem to be edge-to-edge. Given the blurriness of the image, though, it’s difficult to ascertain this point for now.
The other image basically shows the back of the device. We can see that the phone will have a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a square-shaped camera housing at the top corner of the phone. However, it’s clear in this picture that the main camera module only houses a single camera sensor, rather than the dual-camera array that is used in the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL.

As always, the veracity of these images have yet to be confirmed, so take this bit of news with a large grain of salt.
(Source: Slashleaks via PocketNow)
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Huawei P40 Prototype Shows What It Could Look Like At Launch

Last week, when Huawei announced its Mate Xs, it also mentioned the launch date for its upcoming P40 devices. What the company did not mention was that it had prototypes of the device being used by its staff. Digital Trends managed to spot one, and it’s likely to be what the phone will look like. After all, this was only a month before the phone was supposed to be launched.
For now, it’s unclear if this was the base Huawei P40, or one of its variants. It looks a little different compared to the leaks and renders we’ve seen previously. These differences would suggest that it’s not the Huawei P40 Pro, which is what most of the renders reference. Most obvious is the fact that the camera bump houses only three cameras. Sitting next to the bump is the flash, alongside what could be a ToF sensor and a microphone.

Where you’ll usually find the Huawei and Leica branding on the P40 prototype, you see instead Polarie and Blink. These are supposedly the codenames for the former. Digital Trends reports that the company commonly use codenames on prototypes like this. While not shown, the phone has a USB-C port at the bottom, but unfortunately no 3.5mm audio jack.
Digital Trends did not share any shots of the phone from the front, or any angle that would make the screen visible. Not unexpected, since it’s still a prototype, and the software could be easily changed before the launch of the actual Huawei P40. But which device in the P40 line this actually is, we’ll have to wait until the end of March to find out.
(Source: Digital Trends)
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Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary For PC Shows Up On Steam

As the first game in the series, Halo: Combat Evolved no doubt has many fans. And the game is now on Steam again. It’s not the original version that was released back in 2003 either. This version is the Anniversary remaster that was first released for the Xbox 360.
The announcement came pretty much out of the blue. Microsoft made the announcement stating that the game is also a part of the Master Chief Collection. Naturally, you can also get it via the Microsoft Store or Xbox Game Pass for PC.
So what can you expect from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary? 60fps or more, for one. There’s also support for a lot of features that you’d expect from a modern day game, like 4K resolution, variable framerates, and support for ultra-wide screens.

The last time Halo: The Master Chief Collection got a new addition was three months ago, when Halo: Reach was added. The Collection now has a totla of seven titles from the Halo series. It’s available now on Steam for RM65.
If you’re just interested in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, then you can get it on its own for just RM23.50 instead.
(Source: Microsoft, Steam via PC Gamer. Image: Microsoft / YouTube)
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WeChat Found To Be Censoring Specific Keywords About Coronavirus

WeChat has reportedly been hard at work censoring keywords about the Coronavirus and the crisis surrounding it. The actions of the popular Chinese messaging app were discovered by the research group, Citizen Lab, who also says that the censorship had been happening since the beginning of the year.
The research group has allegedly determined WeChat’s actions via a set group chat conversations. Which were sent to three WeChat accounts based in Canada and China. From there, it would see which words would be removed or censored mid-transmission.
The end result, as you can see from the image below, is that the Chinese account simply doesn’t receive that large chunk of information pertaining to the virus, which is alarming in its own right.

At the start of January, WeChat was supposedly censoring 152 keywords related to the coronavirus. However, by the second week of February, the messaging app’s censorship list rose to 526 keywords.
On a side note, it’s not just WeChat that has been actively censoring keywords either. YY, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter, was also discovered to have blacklisted 45 specific keywords about the Coronavirus.

Keywords that were specifically censored include factual information about the coronavirus, any reference to China’s epidemic policies, and Li Wenliang. The doctor turned whistleblower who first warned the world about the disease.
Wenliang passed away on 7 February after being infected and succumbing to the disease. Ultimately, his death led to a wave of anger from the Chinese population who felt that its government handled the situation poorly.

As pointed out by The Verge, it’s not clear why WeChat is doing this, but there is a possibility that its actions could be a direct order from the Chinese government itself. Given the close ties the two bodies have with each other. As it stands, the Chinese government actively uses WeChat and Twitter to hunt down people it deems to have shared “negative information” regarding the Coronavirus outbreak.
WeChat then finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place; the app has a monthly active user base of more than one billion users and is an integral part in their lives. User can, among other things, use the app to make payments or purchases. However, censoring keywords about the coronavirus could end up doing more harm than good.
(Source: Citizen Lab via The Verge // Image: The Star)
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Waze Beacons Now In Malaysia; To Help Drivers Navigate In Tunnels and Underground Roads

Waze today has revealed that the first deployment of the Waze Beacons in Southeast Asia will take place right here in Malaysia. Specifically, the Bluetooth-based devices will be installed within the basement roads of the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) leading to the car parks in the area.
In the joint announcement made by Waze and TRX City, the Waze Beacons will also point out to the connecting roads and highways surrounding the area. This should be useful to drivers in Kuala Lumpur since TRX is a major development area at the edge of Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Bukit Bintang, and Jalan Sultan Ismail.

Not only that, TRX is also within the vicinity of Bulatan Kampung Pandan as well as the entrance to Maju Expressway (MEX) and SMART Tunnel. Not only that, the area can also be accessed via the upcoming Setiawangsa-Pantai Expressway too.
Despite being called Waze Beacons, these devices are not property of Waze but instead, they are installed and owned by TRX City itself. Furthermore, the usages of these devices is not exclusive to Waze alone as other navigation services are able to utilize Waze Beacons as well.

As the implementation at TRX is deemed as a pilot test for Waze Beacons in Malaysia, do expect them to be available in more areas soon. Hence, do keep a look for the above notification in your Waze app which signifies the presence of Waze Beacons nearby.
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WhatsApp Dark Mode Feature Rolling Out To Android And iOS

Facebook owned messaging service WhatsApp announced on 3 March that it will be rolling out its Dark Mode feature soon. The developers mentions that the new mode will roll-out to both Android 10 and iOS 13 in the coming days.
Despite having an edgy name that would make a goth punk rocker blush, Dark Mode basically replaces the app’s bright white background and colours with a… well, darker theme. This is to help users reduce eye strain when using WhatsApp in low light environments.

In order to further reduce eye fatigue, developers have specifically chosen colours that are closer to the system defaults on Android and iOS respectively. Additionally, in order to have important information to stand out, design elements on its interface have also been slightly tweaked.
However, the Dark Mode feature has yet to arrive on both Android and iOS versions of WhatsApp in Malaysia. But when it does, you can activate it by accessing Settings > Chats > Theme, and select Dark.
(Source: WhatsApp Blog.)

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