5 Weirdest Developments In App Gaming

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If the emergence of the app gaming market has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is out-of-bounds for developers. Where console and PC games are concerned, the creative teams behind the titles are a little more limited. These games are expensive to make and they are released far less frequently, so for the most part developers tend to stick to proven styles, franchises and, elements of game play.

In the app market, there is virtually no need for this kind of restraint. While the games can still be very expensive and time-consuming to make, they are still far easier to produce than most console titles, which means a flop one month could be followed with a success four months later. And whether because of this or purely due to creative diversity among app developers, we tend to see a lot of bold concepts making waves in the app stores.

These five developments in particular illustrate just how strange app gaming really is.

1. Uh, Pixels? Okay… Pixels!

We live in an age of unprecedented graphical capability. Video games basically look like real life, and critics and players alike care almost as much about aesthetics as they do game play, but somehow or other, even in this environment, the app market has been taken over by games with intentionally old-fashioned – and sometimes downright crude – graphics. The very fact that there are lists of the best “pixel games” in the app store sounds absurd in 2015, and yet these are often some of the best games out there. Ridiculous Fishing, Canabalt, Only One, and even Minecraft! These are just a few examples of crazy popular app games with stunningly simple visuals there’s just something charming about the entire genre.

2. Word Games Are Fun Again

Most of us are pretty much done with in-person word games unless it’s a very specific situation. If your grandmother wants to play Scrabble over the holidays, you’ll probably go ahead and bust out the board. If you’re stuck on a runway waiting for takeoff, you may flip to the back of a magazine and try out some crosswords. But when was the last time you voluntarily played a word game just for kicks? I’m willing to bet it was on your smartphone.  From Words With Friends to Word Brain, and with plenty of games in between, there are a lot of titles in this category that have been shockingly popular on mobile platforms.

3. …And So Is Bingo

Casino games, too, are usually played primarily in a few specific circumstances. You might play when you’re, you know, actually at a casino. Or again you may play poker or bingo during a family game night over the holidays. It is no surprise that poker has made it big in the app gaming market, as it remains the maybe most beloved card game in existence, but the fact that other casino games – slots, roulette, and even bingo – have established footing on mobile platforms is a little more surprising. In part, it’s because the big developers and sites behind most apps in these categories have found fun ways of making them more creative and engaging than standard bingo cards and the like.  This site represents one of the busiest bingo platforms online or in app stores and features a range of themes with something for just about everyone. Through this kind thematic diversity, bingo and other simple casino games have found popularity again.

4. Management > Action

Pick a sports game, fighter, or RPG that you’ve either personally played or come across in app stores.  I’d be willing to bet it’s more about collecting characters and improving your team than actually playing the sport, or engaging in fights. The two most prominent recent examples are FIFA and Madden mobile versions, both of which are very heavy on team ownership and roster management features. Yes, you can still get on the field and play the games, but the real point of it all is to keep improving your teams so as to reach higher levels of competition and achieve more goals. It’s actually a clever way for mobile developers to take advantage of smaller screens and simpler controls, managing a roster is the same on mobile as it might be on a console, whereas the actual action of the games is a little more primitive.

5. Stories Matter

There’s a growing perception that gaming in modern times is all about interaction and multiplayer. To an extent, this is easy to understand.  The console market is catering more and more to fans of multiplayer gaming, and even in apps there are a lot more player vs. player contests available, even some of the games mentioned or alluded to above come with their own online networks of players and full multiplayer capability. Oddly enough, some developers have also gone the other way with their apps, seeking to create immersive, wholly individual experiences for users.  This list of worthwhile app games shows a little bit of what I’m referring to, with titles like Device 6, 80 Days, and The Room all being mentioned. The (unofficial) category of narrative app games includes many more than just these titles but, also including some of the best-designed games out there.

Each of these developments is somewhat surprising given the overall state of the video game industry. But within them you’ll find some of the most engaging categories and individual games available for mobile.

Are Drones A Danger To Home Security?

drone danger to securrity

drone danger to securrity

Unmanned drones have become a popular commercial gadget in recent years and are readily available online for relatively cheap amounts. Also known as quad or multi-rotor helicopters, a drone with camera or video technology can be purchased for under £100 and flown at extensive ranges.

With this remarkable technology accessible to all, it appears burglars have begun taking advantage of consumer drones to aid criminal activity. Police forces across the UK have reported a rise in unmanned aircraft flying over households to take illegal surveillance images.

These images can then be used to find weak spots across the home, such as older style doors and conservatories, which can be vulnerable to break-ins. Furthermore, criminals can scope out potential access and escape routes from this acquired bird’s eye view.

Crime Reports

With details gathered by the Freedom of Information Act, it has emerged that 16 incidents of suspicious drone activity were reported between January 2014 and March 2015 in Suffolk alone. Securing convictions for attempted illegal surveillance are very hard to achieve however, especially as you can’t really prove if a drone owner has good or bad intentions.

Drone guidelines, prescribed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), are also difficult to apply. This has been noted by the CAA themselves, who are seeking further help from the government to help update regulations; these are likely to come into force by the start of 2016.

Staying Vigilant

The current rules state that unmanned aircraft must not be:

  • Out of sight of its remote pilot.
  • Over or within 150 metres of any congested area.
  • Within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.

As drones become more accessible, it appears likely that the presence of unmanned aircraft will increase across neighbourhoods in the UK. Drones will be clearly visible in daylight, and some models make a loud noise when flying, so they can be spotted relatively easily. Residents are asked to report suspicious flights or any violations of the above rules to the non-emergency police line on 101.

Home Security

If you are concerned about the presence of drones above your vicinity, you should take extra care in home security. Larger properties with substantial grounds and additional outdoor buildings may be the most likely targets.

Make sure front and back doors are securely locked, even if you’re present in the home, using chains and double-locks if possible. Windows are also a prime target for intruders so ensure they’re also closed sufficiently to prevent easy access.

Homeowners should also consider implementing further security measures, such as comprehensive CCTV surveillance systems to act as both a deterrent and prosecution method if criminal proceedings do arise.

In any case, the emergence of more accessible drone planes, equipped with high quality video capturing technology, is another aspect of home security to consider. However, if home owners take the right precautions and report suspicious flights early, then criminal activity can be averted.

4K Televisions

4K Television Infographic

I thought I would talk about 4K Televisions and are they really worth it, most people if they have heard of 4K Tv’s probably are just thinking that this is just another type of HD TV, so rather than trying to explain the advantages by listing the comparisons and stats I thought I would let this fantastic infographic explain which I am sure is more favorable than me trying to list the reasons.

If you would like to see a 4K television then this new innovation is available from companies like Panasonic who offer 4K television with its amazing picture quality greater detail, depth and sharpness over a normal HD TV.

So let me know what you think in the comments section below I would love to hear your thoughts are you thinking of buying one, have you already bought one?

 

4K Television Infographic

Could You Replace Your Sky Subscription With A Media Streamer?

Games consoles like the Xbox One and PS4, smart TVs from Samsung and all the major manufacturers, and subscription TV packages from Sky and Virgin can all be used to access on-demand or live TV content. So, does your living room need a streaming media player like the well-established Roku, or Google’s inexpensive Chromecast? Could you do away with your Sky TV subscription and survive with just a £10 to £80 streaming box?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no – it really depends on the type of content you watch, how much content you consume, and whether you have any existing media streaming subscriptions to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and even Now TV.

Sky’s Subscription Packages

Sky Logo 1The most basic Sky TV package will set you back just over £20 a month, and this does give you access to a massive amount of fairly basic content, including most of the latest US hit shows. However, if you want the full package, including sports and films, and you want it in HD, then you can expect to pay around £75 per month which is a considerable amount of money.

On-Demand

If you currently gorge yourself on box-sets and entire series of OD content, then streaming boxes could be the way to go. Roku is the best established service, offers the easiest menu and user interface system, and also has access to more than 1,400 channels, although a lot of these may be considered specialist viewing.

However, the presence of BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, the newly rebranded All 4, and Demand 5 means that all terrestrial channels are covered. Throw in a subscription to Netflix or Amazon Prime for £5.99 a month, or Now TV for £6.99 a month, and you should find that you have more than enough regular content to keep you going.

In fact, all three subscriptions total slightly less than the most basic Sky TV package, and you can access a library of films and box sets, while having the capability of renting some of the latest movies.

Roku 3 1If you only watch on-demand, then the considerable cost savings offered by the Roku could be worth it, but check first; your smart TV could provide access to these services, although most interfaces are difficult and clunky, while connection speeds tend to be slower than through dedicated streaming devices.

Premium Sports Content

Although coverage has spread out a little more in recent years, with the likes of BT Sport getting involved, Sky pretty much has the premium sports event market wrapped up. This means that sports viewers will have to pay for a sports subscription one way or another.

Now TV Logo 1The Sky Sports satellite package costs £22 per month, on top of the £20 per month for the standard package. However, even this £40 or so compares favourably to the Now TV alternative. £10 buys you a 24 hour pass, enabling you to watch content from any of the 6 premium sports channels for 24 hours. This is fine if you only watch one or two events a month, and may actually mean a cash saving, but if you watch evening matches, weekend games, and big fights on a regular basis, then a Sky subscription is not only more convenient but is likely to work out less expensive.

Movies

The Sky movies package will be essential viewing for those that have to have access to the latest releases as soon as they are available. As well as 1,000 on-demand titles, Sky also boasts that their customers can access the latest releases about 12 months before they are available to online subscription services.

Netflix 1However, if you prefer the classics, then you may actually be better off with a Netflix subscription, or even an Amazon Prime subscription. Both are a lot less expensive than Sky, and they both offer thousands of videos to stream to your preferred streaming box, but you won’t be able to access the very latest releases as part of your subscriptions.

Hit US Shows

In the UK, we tend to be an afterthought when it comes to major US hit show releases, although there are signs of things improving. Sky once again has licensing agreements tied up with a number of channels, so even the newly released HBO Go channel won’t be available her anytime soon. That is significant because HBO is the channel that boasts Game of Thrones, one of the biggest hit shows for a long time. Game of Thrones is available on Now TV, but there is a delay between broadcast and access in these instances, and there are some shows where current rights dictate that UK Now TV viewers will not receive access.

It is a virtually unescapable fact, at the moment, that if you want to watch the major US hit shows, then you will need a proper satellite Sky subscription.

Live TV

If it’s live TV that you’re looking for then a Sky subscription is really the only way to go. Installing Plex on the Roku does enable you to watch additional live channels, while ITV Player offers live streaming on the Roku, but beyond this you are very limited, and not all users will want to have to install and get to grips with the Plex app. Until content providers offer this service as standard on their apps, users that want live TV action are much better off with Sky or even a Freeview package.

Hardware

Sky subscribers also tend to enjoy better equipment. Media streamers are designed to stream media, and this means that there is no need to download content, but it also means that you can’t store and save films or TV series before they disappear from channel listings. A PVR is standard equipment with Sky, now, enabling you to record dozens of hours of HD and hundreds of hours of SD content.

User Interface

Roku is the most established of the streaming media boxes, and it really does show. Not only is installation quick and easy, but searching displays results from the most popular apps and even includes results of related titles that can be rented or bought from services like Netflix. It also comes with a remote control as well as a mobile phone or tablet app that can be used for quicker input and searching. Other streaming devices do not offer this cross-app search function, some do not offer a remote, and others require the installation of potentially confusing apps.

Overall

For now, Sky has the upper hand in terms of live TV, premium sports and movies, and both hardware and software functionality, but streaming media boxes can offer considerable cost savings, and their own functionality is improving. However, until channel and content providers up their game, and until companies other than Roku can provide a stable and intuitive interface, it is unlikely that most users will find benefit from swapping from a Sky subscription to even the best of the streaming media devices that are available.

With that said, devices like the Roku can convert standard TVs into smart TVs, and offer a better user experience than most smart TVs provide. What’s more, once you have paid the purchase price, you can access a lot of content, and for a few pounds a month extra, you can greatly increase the amount of content you enjoy, so they are certainly worth looking into as a cheaper alternative or the casual content viewer.

Visit BestMediaPlayers.com for news on the latest streaming media devices, as well as updates on the latest content additions and subscription service

SSD Performance on Laptops

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Solid-state drives and hard disk drives perform the same basic tasks in laptop computers. They write, store and retrieve information. The difference is that HDDs contain mechanical parts, such as a motor and a spinning platter. On the other hand, SSDs use flash memory chips. These devices work the same way as thumb drives, but they operate more reliably and quickly.

Speed

A major advantage of using a solid-state drive is that it will make a notebook PC run faster. For example, a computer with an SSD can boot about three times more quickly than an equivalent PC that has an HDD. Data fragmentation doesn’t affect performance; users never have to wait for a read head to change position.

Solid-state drives also enable laptop computers to open files, run programs and save data very rapidly. The fastest SSDs can transfer information up to 12 times more quickly than the best compact HDDs. However, most SSDs have top speeds that range from about 250 to 550 megabytes per second. Some 2.5-inch HDDs reach speeds as high as 150 MB/s.

An example of a very fast SSD is the 500 MB/s Samsung 840 Pro. The MacBook Pro contains a solid-state drive that transfers more than a gigabyte in one second. With the right controller, a few expensive units can read and write up to 1,800 MB/s. One of the fastest notebook HDDs is the Toshiba MK2035GSS. It holds 200 gigabytes and transfers as many as 150 megabytes per second.

Reliability

Rapid speeds can’t boost performance if data becomes corrupted or the drive fails. Both HDDs and SSDs have components that eventually wear out. Seagate claims that failure rates remain almost identical. On the other hand, ComputerWorld reports that mechanical disks fail 3.5 percent more often.

Laptop PCs frequently face harsher temperatures and rougher treatment than their desktop counterparts. Although SSDs and HDDs may be equally reliable under ideal conditions, solid-state drives offer greater durability. Seagate and PC Magazine agree that the lack of moving parts makes an SSD more rugged. It may continue to perform well after someone drops a notebook computer.

To sum it up, most solid-state units run about two to seven times faster than their mechanical counterparts. They may last longer than HDDs in portable computers. Laptop owners also benefit from their minimal weight, low energy consumption and reduced heat output. Mwave has a fine selection of SSDs available on their website to choose from to enhance laptop performance. The only major downside is that SSDs cost approximately twice as much as comparable HDDs.

The Rise of Mobile Computers

Flipboard for Android Tablets

 

Mobile computing is a rapidly expanding industry. Indeed, over recent years the market has seen a dramatic shift from traditional desktops towards portable devices, such as smartphones, tablets, handheld PDAs and wearable computers. Due to the increasing need for round-the-clock wireless connectivity, the popularity of mobile computing is continuing to rise for both professional and personal use. To find out more about how mobile technology has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives, read on.

A new tech landscape

For many years, PCs were people’s main computing devices. Now, mobile computers are beginning to leave traditional desktops in the shadows. This is largely due to changing consumer expectations. Today, people have come to expect access to the web whenever they want, whether it’s to update documents, stay in touch with the office or do some online shopping. Mobile computing provides people with the chance to do precisely this, which has led to an ever-increasing demand for smart, portable devices with top-of-the-line applications and rugged services. These digital gadgets are also far more available and affordable nowadays, meaning a rising number of businesses and home users are latching on to the trend.

The need for increased efficiency

From tracking inventory to maintaining schedules, the applications available on mobile computers are endless. Pens and clipboards are being replaced by these digital devices to help workers manage their tasks more quickly and efficiently, while reducing the potential for human error. What’s more, tools such as cameras, barcode scanners and RFID readers can be seamlessly integrated into these devices to help with information reading. As mobile data capture specialist Symetech notes, remote work teams can benefit greatly from enhanced productivity by using mobile computer solutions.

A shift towards flexible workforces

Rather than being tied to a desk, more and more companies are embracing new and innovative technology that allows staff to perform their tasks while on the move. Used across a range of industries, including healthcare and distribution, mobile computing ensures that users are not pinned down to a physical location, but can operate from almost anywhere. By enabling workers to access and relay information without being constrained to a single location, it can help to free up valuable time and reduce costs.

The trend towards a more flexible working schedule shows no signs of waning either. A study conducted by LogMeIn in 2014 found that 67 percent of employers polled already offered mobile technology to some workers, and 25 percent planned to extend this to more staff.

Why do we make in-app purchases on ‘free to play’ games?

In App purchases

In App purchases

 

by  Cristiano Betta 

Today, more games than ever are available to play for free. There are thousands of gaming apps that we can download for free and play for free. You might have to put up with the ads popping up, but there’s nothing that means you actually have to buy the in-app purchases.

Because of the rise of free to play games, free games are now also available on real cash gaming sites – such as bingo and casino sites – where the whole point of the business is that people are playing with real money. Find out more by reading Which Bingo’s blog article about the evolution of free bingo games.

So what if you think you’re above in-app purchases? You may have played many a free to play game and never made an in-game purchase..yet. But, unless you’re a superhuman, the time will come when you crumble and pay the few cents or pence for a particular in-app purchase. How does it happen?

It’s all down to the enormous amount of research that goes into game design and the time spent in finding out what makes us consumers tick. The games have been designed knowing how human beings tick and what will make them say yes. The psychological mechanisms used by free to play games all work in the same way. Here’s an explanation of those mechanisms.

Ego depletion

This is the concept that means we only have a limited amount of self-control, and that that self-control can be worn down over time. In terms of free to play games, it means that the more we play, the more likely we will be to make a purchase. We only have a certain amount of willpower to refuse to buy something when it is constantly being offered to us at a reasonable price.  Ego depletion is achieved when we relent and buy something.

Influencing our yearning to reciprocate

When someone or some company is nice to us, it makes us feel good and feel more cooperative. As we’ve been given a game to play for free, our subconscious makes us want to return that friendly gesture with one of our own. So what do we do? We give the kind developers some of our money as a reciprocal gesture, even if they don’t actually ask us to.

Using an intermediate currency

Using a gaming currency gives a free-to-play company some useful tools. Firstly, most people find it difficult to assess the value of an item they’re not familiar with, so using price obscuring means that players will forget about the ‘actual’ money they’re spending. Secondly, pricing structures on these kinds of games evolve and become more costly the further into a game a player gets. When the game also offers users the ability to earn currency (even though it’s at a snail’s pace) and also offers buy-in-bulk discounts, the true cost of the game is easily disguised.

Can you really expect something for nothing?

So now you’re aware of some of the psychological tricks that games developers use to make you pay to play freemium games, how do you feel? Indignant? Do you feel like you’ve had the wool pulled over your eyes?

Just hang on a second, though. No-one makes you pay for in-app purchases – these are decisions you make for yourself. You could choose to resist the concepts of Ego Depletion and Reciprocity if you wanted to. But think about the fun you have playing these games – and then think about the cost and effort that goes into making and marketing these games. We didn’t like paying for these games up front – when they were pay to play only, not enough people purchased them. And so the developers gave them to us for free (well, almost). Surely it’s not unreasonable for them to seek to get a little of their investment back!

What would you like with your Raspberry Pi ? Kano Please

Kano Raspberry Pi

So this is the dilemma I had, I wanted a Raspberry Pi but didn’t know how to use one or what I needed to make one work.

Then I discovered Kano, what is Kano? Well it’s like going into your local gadget shop asking for a Raspberry Pi asking for all the bits you need to make it work, then asking to give you a screen by screen talk on how to set it up and a great user interface to get you started even if you don’t know what you are doing.

So buying a Kano is like getting a kick start or maybe even a head start.

So do you buy a Rasberry Pi and work out what to do or buy a kit and get a kick start, well that’s a question for you to answer but if you have kids and want them to start learning how to programme and use a Pi then it doesn’t get easier than buying a Kano (especially if like me you don’t have a clue about Raspberry Pi)

   So whats in the box

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Well you get a great instruction book which shows you step by step what to do to get started in a really easy step by step format.

Kano instruction book

  • An orange keyboard which connects via bluetooth and also has a built in usb cable for connection and charge
  • HDMI cable
  • Power plug and cable
  • Kano SD Card
  • Wifi USB dongle
  • Custom Case
  • Speaker
  • Raspberry Pi Model B

How to assemble

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Setting up is really easy as every page in the book has a step by step guide to set it up, I left my 8yr old son to work this out himself and he did this without any problems (although he does love making Lego models so following instructions is second nature to him)

kano instruction book

Finished product

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So the finished article plugs into your TV and is ready to go.

In my next article I will explain what you can do with your Kano and how it is really going to help your kids learning to programme while playing, win,win!

Kano Computer Kit

 

Until next time, enjoy your gadgets.

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