Monthly Archives: August 2012
The $99 game console Ouya has finished its Kickstarter fundraising drive with more than $8.5 million in the bank, and its creators are now working toward a March 2013 launch for those who backed the project.
As I wrote last month, Ouya should be a wake-up call for the video games industry. By keeping hardware costs low and opening game development to anyone, Ouya will mimic the app store model that made phone and tablet gaming so popular. Unlike Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, Ouya isn’t entrenched in the business of $60 retail discs, so it’s in a better position to disrupt the market.
That’s not to say Ouya will necessarily be a major disruption. There are still a lot of details that haven’t been announced, and factors that have yet to be determined. In light of that, here’s a rundown of what we know and don’t know about Ouya so far:
We Know the Price and Estimated Release Date
For anyone who didn’t back Ouya on Kickstarter, the console is available for pre-order with an expected April 2013 release date. The console and one controller costs $99, though you can also get a second controller for $30 more, or three additional controllers for $90 more. Shipping costs an extra $10 within the United States, or $20 for international orders.
We Kind of Know What the Controller Looks Like
So far, Ouya has only shown a mock-up of its controller, which at least shows that it’ll resemble traditional game controllers. The Ouya controller will have buttons, triggers, analog sticks, a directional pad and a touchpad. The big unknown is whether the finished product will look anything like the pictures.
We Know a Little About Developer Support
Ouya hasn’t announced a games lineup yet, but some developers have either announced games on their own or pledged some kind of support. Other developers, such as Minecraft creator Mojang, say they’re interested, but haven’t made firm commitments.
Here are the games that have already been announced: Shadowrun Online, Final Fantasy III, Yummy Circus, Tropical Treasures 2 Deluxe, Super Retro Squad, Invaders Pretty Sure From Space Round 2, Gunblitz, Saturday Morning RPG and a prequel to the zombie apocalypse game Human Element. The publisher of Hawken supports Ouya but hasn’t announced any games. Namco Bandai says it’s in talks to bring games to Ouya, but also hasn’t given specifics.
Meanwhile, OnLive has pledged support, so users will be able to stream high-end PC games to the console.
We Know a Little About the Multimedia Situation
Although Ouya was announced as a games machine, the console will support media players from XBMC and Plex, allowing users to stream content from other networked devices. Vevo is also committed for streaming music videos, and TwitchTV for streaming eSports. Still missing, however, are streaming TV and movie services such as Amazon Instant Video and Netflix, and music services such as Spotify and Pandora.
We Have No Idea About Content Curation
The details on Ouya’s user interface are still unknown, but one thing I’m really curious about is how Ouya will organize and promote good content. Will there be a user review system to separate good from bad? Can Ouya protect against cheap knock-offs or other low-grade content? I’m all in favor of an open development platform, but it raises curation issues that Ouya has yet to address.
Hacking group Anonymous on Friday claimed to have shut down a computer server belonging to Australia’s domestic spy agency ASIO, reportedly briefly closing down access to its public webpage.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) acknowledged some disruption to its website.
“ASIO is aware that there may have been some technical issues with its public website,” a spokesperson said.
“ASIO’s public website does not host any classified information and any disruption would not represent a risk to ASIO’s business.”
Micro-blogging site Twitter has carried comments in recent days that ASIO and Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) sites were being targeted by Australian hackers linked to Anonymous.
In an early Thursday morning post on its Twitter feed Anonymous Australia (@AuAnon) wrote: “The anonymous Operation Australia hackers have today again been busy with further attacks on the ASIO and DSD website.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that ASIO’s website was down for at least 30 minutes Friday morning, but it appeared to be loading normally Friday afternoon.
Operation Australia, which has its own @Op_Australia Twitter stream said it would “stop the attacks at 10pm Aus. BUT we will never stop watching!”.
The personal and departmental websites of Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, the ruling Labor party’s South Australia branch and Tasmania police sites were also targeted in the plot, which was referred to as #TangoDown.
It appeared linked to a controversial government plan to store the web history of all Australians for up to two years which was shelved Thursday until after the 2013 elections.
The group Anonymous, which is believed to be a loosely affiliated network of “hacktivists”, has attacked sites around the world including those of MasterCard and Visa, the US Justice Department, and the Tunisian and Yemen governments.
In 2011, ASIO revealed it had established a cyber intelligence unit although it is believed to have been operating for some time before it was announced.
The then attorney-general Robert McClelland said while traditional espionage still posed risks, “the explosion of the cyber world has expanded infinitely the opportunities for the covert acquisition of information by both state and non-state actors.”
Does your desktop PC take so long to start up you have time to go get a cup of coffee—and drink it? Tried installing the latest game only to find out your graphics card is six generations too old to play it? Or maybe you just want to take advantage of the speed and reliability of operating systems like Microsoft Windows 7 and Mac OS Lion. If any of these are true, then it is time for you to buy a new desktop PC. And we can help you do it.
Prices for desktop PCs start as low as $200 and range all the way up to and over $5,000, but most of us would be more than happy with a $600- $750 box, including monitor. You still need to make some choices when it comes to CPUs, memory, hard drive capacity and graphics technology, but the good news is your money has never gone further. And a PC you buy today could very well last you for four to six years.
The Nettop Option
If all you want to do is surf the Web, run Office apps, and do very light computing duties, you should consider a nettop. You can find a nettops advertised for as low as $220 without monitor. Nettops belong to a desktop category that (mostly) comes in below the $400-500 value desktop categories, both in price and capabilities. Nettops run on the same basic components that netbooks do: low-powered single- or dual-core processor like the Intel Atom, AMD Neo, or some of the low-powered AMD Athlon processors; non-upgradable integrated graphics; 512MB to 2GB of RAM; smaller hard drive; no optical drive (usually); and Windows 7, Linux operating system, or sometimes even no pre-installed OS.
Some all-in-one nettops have a built-in screen and still can be bought for less than $500. You’ll also see quite a few nettops aimed at the home theater crowd, some of which may be up to $600 if they include built-in Blu-ray drives. They work well in a living room because they’re silent (quiet fans); have wireless keyboards and/or mice; and have HDMI ports for connecting to HDTVs. They’re still one of the easiest way to get IPTV services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube on your HDTV in the living room, plus you can comfortably surf the Web from your couch on a nettop with a wireless keyboard and mouse.
Mid-priced Desktop PCs
Sub $600 PCs used to be the bargain basement for desktops, but now they’re the norm. You should be able to find a desktop that has a dual-core processor and 3-4GB of RAM for under $600 with an LCD monitor. The dual-core processor will help with the increasingly complex tasks that even casual users expect of their PCs. These include converting video from one format to another (so you can view it on your cell phone, for example), or light photo editing like removing red eye, cropping, or even recomposing the layout of a picture by adding missing people or changing colors in a shot.
A Pentium dual core or AMD Athlon X2 processor should fit the bill, but you can upgrade to a faster Core 2 Duo, Core i3/i5, or Athlon II X3 if you want to get tasks done quicker. Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) and DVD burners prevail in this price range and are wise investments. Many come with hard drives of substantial capacity (250GB to 500GB). Many of these PCs still come in minitower cases, but the sexier ones come in small form factor cases, ultra small form factors, or better yet, mini PC form factors. These cases take up much less room on your desk than a traditional minitower, and are just as functional as their larger counterparts. Plus, a good value PC should easily last you the next four to six years.
As of today, the best idea we have is that report from iMore that the iPhone will be announced alongside a new iPad Mini on September 12th, and released on the 21st. It would be about a month earlier than the presumed October announcement and release, which would have been a year after the 4S. But it also makes sense, since the iPhone 4S has lost a lot of momentum the past few months, since everyone’s already talking about its successor.
Google’s Nexus Q played a big role in the company’s Google I/O keynote, but it looks like the company is going back to the drawing board.
In an e-mail sent to anyone who preordered the device, Google explains that because of “initial feedback from users,” the official launch of the Nexus Q is being postponed indefinitely, so it can “do even more than it does today.” Additionally, Google is offering the people who preordered a free Nexus Q as a reward for their early support.
While it’s surprising to see Google change directions so quickly on the Nexus Q, it’s encouraging that the company is listening to the early criticism. other review of the Nexus Q were lukewarm, largely because of its lack of app support, especially at its $300 price point.
The full e-mail sent to people who preordered is below.
Subject: Status of Your Nexus Q Pre-OrderWe have an important update about your Nexus Q pre-order.
When we announced Nexus Q at Google I/O, we gave away devices to attendees for an early preview. The industrial design and hardware were met with great enthusiasm. We also heard initial feedback from users that they want Nexus Q to do even more than it does today. In response, we have decided to postpone the consumer launch of Nexus Q while we work on making it even better.
To thank you for your early interest, we’d like to extend the Nexus Q preview to our pre-order customers and send you a free device. If you had other items in your order, your credit card will be charged for those items only.
Your Nexus Q will be on its way soon and you will receive a notification and tracking number from Google Play when it ships.
The Nexus Q Team
For social media fans, you may already know that the new Digg site (and the new Betaworks team) has finally launched recently with a complete redesign and new editorial content. The overall scheme is a side-step to the user controlled network it once used to be but it seems like it was for the better. The new site seems to be quicker and smoother and has a more user-friendly interface. It features images and headlines from content around the web that is submitted by users. Here, users are allowed to vote up a piece of content with the new Digg also taking retweets and Facebook shares into account into one overall number.
Editors are given the option to place the content on the page where they deem appropriate, a step that moves away from the original Digg where votes moved content up on the page. The new system is laid out wonderfully with the Digg staff mentioning that it isn’t all that’s coming, showing that they’re committed to bring Digg to the social service it once was. The Digg staff mentioned the following features that they plan on adding in the future:
- introduce network-based personalization features (like we do in News.me) to make Digg a more relevant and social experience
- experiment with new commenting features
- continue to iterate Digg for mobile web
- move the website forward with features like the Reading List, different views into the top stories on Digg, and more data to help users better understand why a particular story is trending
- launch an API so that members of the development community can build all the products that we haven’t even thought of yet
Along with releasing the newly designed website, the company also released a new iPhone app, allowing users to check out web news from their iPhone. Users are also given the option of Digging stories, reading stories offline, and saving stories for reading later. One of the cooler features the company added is called Paperboy. This feature allows users to download the latest Digg stories when you leave a certain location and read them where you might not have data connection (or Wi-Fi connection).
To all those of you who use Digg often: Happy Digging!
Shortly after reports were claiming Apple was in the talks with Twitter, a new report reveals the iPhone maker may be looking at using the micro-blogging service to fill the gap left by Ping when the service shuts down this year. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Apple is continuing to find ways to expand Twitter’s presence across its product line and sources are saying that the next step may be a deeper “melding” of the service with iTunes.
The information comes in after a New York Times report stated that Apple’s investment talks with Twitter, a claim that the Wall Street Journal dismissed as being year-old news. The two companies remain close partners and seem to be moving forward with plans to more tightly integrate Twitter into iTunes according to sources. Currently, Twitter’s iTunes tie-in is limited to find followed users on Ping.
For those of you who didn’t already know, it was previously reported that Apple was likely to call it quits for the Ping social network when the next iteration of iTunes is released later this year. During the D10 conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted that Ping would be phased out but vowed to add more “socialnetworking” functionality to the company’s products. This was seen with the recent addition of Facebook to iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion. The death of Apple’s Ping social network wasn’t a surprise given the fact that the service remained largely unused after its initial adoption of over one million users. The slowdown led Apple to focus its efforts elsewhere.
The addition of Twitter to iTunes for sharing is an interesting thought and one that I’d personally like to see. The fact that Twitter has a larger number of users alone makes it a more attractive option compared to Ping.
According to the independent web analytics firm, StatCounter Chrome has excelled as the world most popular browser with the highest browser usage share for the month of May 2012. But does that apply to Linux platform too? Is Chrome the best browser for Linux? The post compares the widely popular Mozilla Firefox browser version 4 with relatively new Google’s Chrome version 16, distinctly for Ubuntu!
Mozilla Firefox comes by default on Linux based distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora etc. Naturally Ubuntu users opt for open source softwares. Technically, Opposed to Mozilla Firefox, Google’s Chrome is closed source; that makes Ubuntu users favour Firefox than Chrome, and that is understandable. Chromium, on the other hand is open source basis of Chrome. But unfortunately it lacks some key features like default PDF plug-in for viewing PDF files in the browser and Flash support. Ubuntu users, primarily supporters of open community also tend to have grudges towards Google, who is alleged to collect and aggregate data of Internet users that is later used by marketing agencies and by Google itself to increase the efficiency of its own marketing/advertising activities. Of course, many detest the fact of having their data sold for advertisement.
But apart from that, Firefox outshines Chrome on Ubuntu machine for feature, stability and security. Now let’s investigate further, why Firefox remains dominant in the Ubuntu/ Linux sphere.
Customisation remains one of the central features when comparing the two browsers. As obvious, open source software users look for freedom, freedom in everything and specially in customisation. Though Firefox has chromised itself delivering a minimal interface thanks to it’s amazing potential of customisation that it can be completely personalised. Chrome on the Other hand does not even provide half of the tools for customisation. Chrome does not offer layout customization options like Firefox. Firefox’s interface is also subject to CSS styling, which allows the user to completely customize each element’s appearance and placement! With firefox you can adjust the interface and adapt to your personal requirements: re-arrange, organize, add or remove buttons or fields to change your browsing experience however you want. Many users also find the inability to adjust the font size in tabs frustrating in Chrome. This can be a notable factor when your contender gives limitless options for customisation. Chrome also has poor rendering when it comes to Indic fonts.
Speed, Startup time and stability
Firefox yet again outshines Chrome on Ubuntu machine in startup time. Mozilla has significantly worked on making the browser swift and snappy in its newer releases and it shows evidently. Firefox however lags behind with a very less margin when it comes to page loading time. Chrome is slightly fast than Firefox owing to its minimal code base.
Firefox was alleged for intensive memory usage, but new releases make memory usage efficient down to 50%. When released, Chrome was intended to be a light weight browser but with the course of time it is becoming notorious for memory hogging. This is because Chrome launches a new process for every web page which makes it heavy on system resources.
stability is where, Firefox clearly unseats chrome. As much as Chrome is stable on Windows platform, it is weak and unstable on Linux platform. Very often does chrome become unstable and crashes. Though owing to its intelligent tab management one or two tabs crash without affecting the whole browser. But having several tabs down for unknown reasons can also be a pain in neck. Plug-ins also happen to cash very often in Chrome.Chrome mishandles SSL certificate causing annoyance very frequently.
Firefox wins here with a great margin. When it comes to features Firefox is feature packed ! With features such as Pin as App Tabs, One button Menu, no track, addons, Personas, App Tabs to create mini bookmarks, group opened tabs etc.. Chrome has some nice feature set but it is far far behind Firefox.
Security & Privacy
Chrome and Firefox both employ anti-malware tools for secure browsing. both Firefox and Chrome give security warnings when you visit a risky website and instigate your antivirus to run and scan the file downloaded. besides this Firefox is aided with plenty of add ons to further improve security, such as NoScript. Firefox has the best pop-up blocker. Firefox also has one of the most efficient anti-phishing feature. Last but no the leastt Firefox has a safe mode to recover from unexpected shut downs. Chrome too, restores your last session recovering from unexpected failures but not very often on Ubuntu like on Windows.
Talking about privacy, Google Chrome has obvious concerns of data tracking and selling. Firefox in contrast, ensures that the data you leave while browsing using the Firefox is kept private. It states on its home page: ” When you browse, you leave a trail of data that potentially contains all sorts of personal information. We believe this info belongs to you and you alone (and least of all to overzealous advertisers), and have built in features to ensure that’s the case.”
For Ubuntu platform, Firefox still leads when it comes to Synchronisation. Chrome is catching up but the system is still buggy and doesn’t work at all at times.
For synchronisation with mobile devices, Firefox still takes the lead. Firefox on desktop seamlessly Synchronises with your mobile Firefox, bookmarks, tabs open on your desktop Firefox etc. chrome on the other hand is only available on mobile devices running ICS- not to forget that ICS is only available on handful of Android devices. This limits the scope of Chrome on mobile devices. When synchronisation is possible, it is far lagging as compared to that with Firefox.
The addon system accompanying the Google Chrome has some serious concerns with “actual” developers. Mozilla integrates addon system directly with the browser ( this has some disadvantages though). This gives more liberty for developers when developing extensions .
When it comes to Ubuntu, Firefox certainly wins. Even when we evaluate both the browsers irrespective of the OS we find Firefox has an edge over Chrome as being aided with more features. What browser do you prefer on your Ubuntu machine? Chrome or Firefox?
It all began at July 16, 2012, when the American video game company called Valve made this glorified statement: Steam’d Penguins. For those who don’t know who Valve is, they are the company who brought Half-Life, probably one of the best First-Person-Shooting games ever. Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, Day of Defeat, Left 4 Dead and DOTA 2 are some samples of their kick-ass titles. Even the most powerful tool for gamers, the Steam, is a another Valve’s work. So, what’s this excitement all about ?
Because all these titles it’s going to be supported in Linux via Steam! It’s no myth, no rumours, no hype, nor whispers… it’s true and really happening. At last, gamers will delete their dual boot Windows 7 partition, and there will be times to play Skyrim and Call of Duty into your Ubuntu without fear. No wine errors or Cedega tricks. This time it’s official and supported by Valve’s Linux team.
No mistake here, Ubuntu will be the first step for Steam under Linux, while more distros will catch up later.
“This doesn’t mean that Ubuntu will be the only distribution we support. Based on the success of our efforts around Ubuntu, we will look at supporting other distributions in the future.”
Currently, VLT (Valve Linux Team) is working for the fully-featured Linux client of Steam. In order to have some first gaming results, they have already ported Left For Dead:2 in Ubuntu 12.04 and right now they are working upon framerate improvements.
“The goal of the Steam client project is a fully-featured Steam client running on Ubuntu 12.04. We’ve made good progress this year and now have the Steam client running on Ubuntu with all major features available. […] Over the last few months, excellent progress has been made on several fronts and it now runs natively on Ubuntu 12.04. We’re working hard to improve the performance and have made good progress. Our goal is to have L4D2 performing under Linux as well as it performs under Windows.”
So, all in all, let’s wrap things up and see what we are expecting from Valve in the nearest future:
- 1) getting the Steam client onto Linux with full functionality
- 2)optimizing a version of L4D2 running at a high frame rate with OpenGL
- 3) porting additional Valve titles
Eventually, it’s certain that this project will draw much more attention to the nVidia and AMD Radeon drivers community. To all the Linux gamers out there, please stay tuned ’cause the best is yet to come!