Category Archives: Science, Tech, & Health

Google Wave, The Wave Of The Future

Google Wave, is the latest project in development at Google. It promises to make people rethink how the browser can be used. Earlier this year Google announced the project and by late September it was in limited preview mode. Google users can sign up to join the preview and have the option once they are in to nominate 20 other users to have the chance to join.

Google Wave very well may be the future of online communication. It is a combination of messenger, forum, and e-mail. Instead of a message being sent to an inbox it is put into a text document known as a Wave. Waves work in real time, so as you type it others can see what you are saying. They also allow for a great diversity in editing, giving anyone who is part of a wave the power to edit any message in real time, making this great device for collaboration. One nice thing about this is wave replay, which allows people to run through the wave from the beginning and see when stuff was added and how it was edited. Waves do not have to be purely text, they can be multimedia, incorporating pictures and video. All it takes is a simple click and drag and pictures and videos can be added to the wave.

One of the more impressive things about Google Wave is live translating. You select an language and Google wave will automatically begin translating your type into whatever language. This opens up a great number of possibilities and is likely to make this a very attractive application for businesses that do work overseas that requires collaboration on projects.

A great deal of the appeal to Google Wave is it doesn’t require you to download anything. Everything you need is right there in the browser window. What makes this possible will soon be open and free to everyone as Google has announced plans to release the source code for Google Wave once it is out of closed preview. The idea behind this are hopes that the open source community will aid Google in pushing wave to its limits and bring ideas and add-ons to the table that Google itself might not of thought of. In this, Google is borrow from the Mozilla model of play.

Another reason for the open source release is hopes that service providers and other e-mail services will pick up on Wave and replace what they currently have. Google plans on Wave completely replacing e-mail protocol, and hopes that by releasing the source code they will encourage those companies to follow suit to redesign email for today.

The potential Google Wave offers is hard to ignore with its fusion of e-mail and instant messaging. It is hard to say where Google Wave will go, it would not be the first revolutionary idea to go ignored before its time. Whatever happens with Google Wave it is certainly one of the more interesting Web-based applications to come out in recent years.

Long overview of Google Wave

Video from outside source.

Images from:

www.cdrinfo.com

kmwaves.org

wave.google.com

Magna Carta 2, not the second great paper

Magna Carta 2 is a breath taking game with an interesting and twisting story that draws players in. You play as Juto, a man who has lost his memory. The game opens with Juto awakening on a boat being hoisted onto shore. As the first few moments of game play unfold, you learn that Juto is on Highwind Island, which is currently under the control of the Southern forces. They are excavating a mysterious weapon known as the Guardian. They hope to use this weapon to oppose the Northern army and their monster weapons known as Sentinels. The peaceful island is quickly entrenched in a power struggle as both sides seek to gain control of this power, Juto and his unknown past and powers dragged in along for the ride

Game Play

The game play is pretty much your standard role playing game affair, there are the magic users and the more physical types, such as Juto. Players are free to cycle through and control any number of characters that join your party, each offering their unique abilities. What is different to the game is how the characters power up their moves for their special attacks. As you battle, you build up what is known as Kan. It is the source of power in Magna Carta. Each character has a specific type of Kan that they need to build up adding to this is that some areas will start you off instantly with a certain number of Kan, making it much more ideal for some characters and much less for others. It becomes a game of balancing your party to make up for your weaknesses and play somewhat strategically. Adding to the need to play strategically is the stamina system built into Magna Carta. As you fight, your character drains his or her stamina until it enters what is known as over drive. Over-drive allows you to deal out more damage for a limited amount of time. After over-drive you enter into over-heat which is more or less a cool down period where you character is unable to preform any tasks. This is done to encourage over drive to be used sparingly, forcing players to weigh the risks and the advantages of this.

The Good

The graphics are quite nice and visually appealing. Cut scenes that play more like movies are amazing and well done. The characters are all well voiced. Juto is a likable character, even if he spends most of the early parts of the game whining. Game play in general can be fun and intense at times, especially during some of the harder boss fights. While the game forces strategic play, it doesn’t really take away from what the game has to offer players, in many ways adding to the over all experience. Dialogue between characters is spontaneous and funny most of the time. Cut scenes for the special moves look awesome, adding to the rpg experience.

The Bad

The story seems extremely forced and parts of it are rather random and don’t make much sense. Dialogue while it has its good moments, tends to drag on forever as characters dance around what ever point they are trying to make. The over-drive and over heat system is among one of the most annoying systems out there. You spend half your fights charging, attacking and then abruptly backing away so you don’t over heat. It makes it hard for the characters who have to gain the physical type of Kan. Gaining enough on a consistent enough basis to use their power is nearly impossible. Boss fights tend to be rather ridiculous as the majority of the bosses seem to have the ability to heal themselves which drags the fight on forever.

Whim rating: 3.5/5

Game Trailer

Game play

Videos from outside source.

Images from:

ign.com

gawker.com

siliconera.com

Assassinating the competition, Assassin’s Creed

With the second game in this series, I felt it was time for a long deserved review of Assassin’s Creed. As the game proceeds, you play as Desmond Miles, the descendant of Altair Ibn La-Ahad. It seems your ancestor has information that certain people find to be of extreme value. You are given two choices: either cooperate with these people or be put into a coma and left to die. The choice seems rather obvious. To unlock this information they have attached you to the Animus System. Its purpose is to read the genetic memories built into the human body and extract the information that is needed. There is only one issue, it seems the memory they are trying to access is to unstable too be accessed directly. So instead the Animus System must start at an earlier memory and work its way forward.

Game Play

Assassin’s Creed is based on free flowing movement, allowing players to scale just about any surface in the game. The combat system is pretty straight forward, the X button does it all, it slices, it dices and it throws knives. You change what weapon you have selected by using the D-pad. Altair has a rather interesting ability known as Hawk vision. It allows him to interrupt the intentions of others. This makes it easier to seperate enemies from allies and so on. Health in Assassin’s Creed is sort of an interesting concept. Instead of the typical health bar you are stuck with a synchronization bar. This represents how close you are to your ancestor’s actions. If you lose this completely, the Animus System will restart you from the last save point and you will have to work from there once more. You can resynchronize with Altari by following the Assassin’s Creed. Here is the interesting part: if you stray too far away from the creed, you begin to lose synchronization with Altrai, so taking damage is no longer the only way to die. The way in which you can kill your enemies varies greatly. You have two choices when confronting a target, low or high profile attack methods. Low profile attacks draw less attention allowing for easier escapes. While high profile attacks tend to be more visually appealing. Low profile attacks take advantage of the social stealth concept built into the game, you are not hidden when you are in the shadows but you are when you blend in among the crowd using it to inch ever closer to your enemies.

The Good

Combat is just awesome with the free flowing system that the game developer decided to put in the game. Even two years after its initial release the graphics are still up to date if not superior to many of the games released more recently. The social stealth system is unique and fun to play as it allows you to more or less walk right up to your target and kill them without being noticed. The two choices that are provided of profile and low profile kills is a fun concept. It gives players a chance to try different ways of handling a situation with the freedom of replaying a certain stage over and over again if you want.

The Bad

It is really difficult to come up with anything that is particularly bad about Assassin’s Creed. It was a solid game and remains such. That being said there are a few minor things that bothered me. Occasionally there would be the odd visual glitch in the game. There were also parts where the Animus system would jump you forward in the memory. I am sure it was meant to speed up game play but it would often jump forwards where the player would just be out side of the building they were just in. The jumps really don’t make much sense.

Whim rating 4.5/5

Check out the trailers

Videos from an outside source.

Images From:

Ign.com

megaspeeddownloads.blogetery.com

Xbox 360 dashboard update launched

Microsoft recently released its preview option for Xbox 360, giving gamers a sneak peak of its latest system update. This update contained several new features which Microsoft announced earlier this year. This update to the Xbox dashboard had been one of the most anticipated in recent years. The update contained, additional Facebook, and Twitter apps along with a few other perks.

The Facebook and Twitter addition to Xbox is Microsoft’s answer to Playstation3’s web browsing capabilities. They were added to answer cries coming from those who wanted a way to update their Facebook while on Xbox. The Facebook application is very visually pleasing and fairly easy to understand. The interface is simple, and the auto login option is welcomed. It is hard to describe just how annoying it would be to key in the username and password over and over on Xbox. For those who have the messenger pad addition for the Xbox controller, it won’t be as bad the mini-keyboards making typing simpler. The Facebook app does not incorporate Facebook chat nor does it allow you to see who is online. In fact the only thing the app is good for is making status updates and viewing photos. It was hoped that the update would have some sort of auto updating on Facebook every time an achievement was earned. This was not the case. In fact, Facebook is unable to run in the background, making you log out every time you want to go play a game. Twitter suffers from the same problems that make Facebook so useless, only allowing updates when directly accessed and an inability to run in the background. Though it does allow for one to view the popular trends. The simple interface of both Twitter and Facebook make it easy to use but both were less than expected.

One of the other features added to Xbox is Last.FM it is a commercial free digital radio station. It allows you to pick what music you want to listen to by telling it what artist or genre you like. Based on that Last.FM will sort through all of the artists it has, playing those similar to the ones you like. As it plays the artist, you can cycle through information on both the artist and song. If you allow for it to auto-play, it will run through album art and various other photos of the artist. This service is very similar to that which can be found on Pandora. Like the other apps involved in this update, it is unable to run in the background. This means you can’t do much of anything but listen to music on your Xbox.

The other major addition to Xbox is the Zune marketplace. This is to eventually replace the Xbox live video marketplace. This portion of the update is fairly simple and straight forwards. The Zune marketplace will accept Microsoft points for movies, videos and music.

Overall the update was a rather interesting mix of programs, as Microsoft tries to suit the desires of its consumers. Though the update did not live up to expectations, it is only a matter of time before more changes are made to answer the wants of those consumers who are unwilling to accept things as they are. That leaves to question, just what will be in the future for the Xbox dashboard?

E3 facebook/twitter demo


Xbox Dashboard update commercial

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Pictures from:

http://www.freewebs.com/maximumpc

http://www.gearlive.com/

http://www.gamespy.com/

http://www.thatvideogameblog.com/

Skype a messenger unlike others

Skype is an instant messaging program and so much more. First and foremost, Skype is not what most people would consider to be their typical instant messenger service. While Skype does hold this function it is not the focus of the services that it provides its users. Skype has a heavy focus on Internet calling, the majority of this being computer-to-computer phone calls.

Skype’s web phone service is very useful, allowing for people to arrange conference calls with ease. Another nice thing about the computer to computer calling service is that it is entirely free. You can call as many other Skype users as you want, combining it into one giant call if it so fits your needs. Along with its ability to set up calls between computers, it also allows for video chat and screen sharing, two things which are gradually becoming fairly standard for instant messengers.

Skype is not purely limited to computer to computer calling, its reach extends beyond that. The program allows one to call land lines or cell phones from the ease and comfort of your computer. These calls, unlike the computer-to-computer ones, are not free but are generally cheaper than moststandard calls. This can be especially true for international calls which use the same rates as the local calling service. In this way, skype is truly useful for those living overseas who want to stay in contact with friends and family. The first non computer-to-computer call is free for the first ten minutes with Skype. The developers give you a chance to try out their great service. You pay for this service using Skype credit that you order ahead of time. You can sign up for a monthly subscription or refill your Skype credit as you need it.

Skype is no longer purely found on computers. It made the leap to mobile devices such as iPhones and Blackberries in application form. This lighter version of Skype does not lack any of the punch that its big brother possesses. What it does lack, it makes up for in its portability and the advantage of making cheaper international calls with relative ease. In recent months rumors have spread that the new ipod touch would incorporate a microphone and a built-in web camera of some sort, allowing for the Skype app to spread to it as well. This rumor, while true fell short of expectations. Apple scrapped adding a camera to the new ipod touch last minute due to technical difficulties.

No matter what happens in the future with Skype, one thing is certain: it is certainly a program to keep an eye on and give a try. The messenger layout for it might not be for everyone, but the built in systems more than make up for the clunky messenger it is built around.

Skype Ad

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Pictures from:

www.essenceofclarity.com

digital-lifestyles.info

www.gauntface.co.uk

HD flip cameras

Earlier this year the introduction of the HD Flip Cam hit. This tiny micro-sized camcorder can easily fit into one’s pocket. The device has a built in USB connector, allowing a user to directly upload videos from the device to YouTube. No longer would one have to fumble about with a multitude of cable, trying to figure out which goes to what device.

This camcorder’s main selling point is its ability to produce high definition film from such a small package. The small size of the device allows it to be among the most purely portable video capture devices out there. It made a fairly decent splash as it hit the market.

The latest product from Flip Video, the people who brought the original flip camcorder, is called the Mino. It is a slimmer version of the original device. Two versions of it offer the same HD capabilities as the original device, tempting consumers to buy it with starting prices of $149.99 and $199.99. The pricier of the two devices sports a larger screen and a full two hours of video capture time, a vast difference to the one hour provided by the cheaper cam. Though like any other new device there is always going to be others who will imitate.

One of the would-be imitators was announced early September of this year. This camcorder is a sleek stylized form, moving away from the boxy shape that is found with the early flip camcorders. Though there is still not much known about this camcorder, from what was revealed in the announcement it is clear that the camera will have some sort of flip-out lens that is supposed to be at the optimal filming angle. The majority of the controls for the device will be touchscreen operated. Though it does not come with the direct connect ability of the HD Flip, it does come with some sort of docking station. Presumably the consumer would hook it up to his computer allowing him to transfer his videos with relative ease.

While the HD Flip Mino is the only current product on the market that offers a great deal, there are certain to be other device making their way onto the market as the holiday season approaches. These devices, while not must-have, are certainly nifty gadgets for anyone who likes to capture life’s moments on film. This will certainly be among the hottest new devices this holiday season and it is certain that there will be more companies that take pursuit in this field, working towards making smaller and smaller camcorders with more and more memory, allowing for greater video storage.

HD flip promo

video from outside source

Pictures from:

www.gizmodo.com

www.itechnews.net

www.flip-camcorder.org.uk

http://www.camcorderinfo.com

Two wheels future of electric vehicles

The purchasing of electric vehicles is on the rise. There are quite a few advantages to electric over gasoline powered vehicles, but the main issues with electric motorcycles remains the battery life and range.

On top of cutting carbon emissions while driving, electric motorcycles have better acceleration than normal motorcycles. Because there

Facebook: the next step in gaming?

Facebook may very well be the next step in video gaming as it takes on more and more aspects that connect it with the gaming community. This is only an extension of the sites’ goal to connect people socially over the Internet. Online gaming has become a way of networking in and of itself, allowing you to interact with people who you would not normally be able to. This interaction extends beyond the game and ties can be made between people that have never met before. Though it may not be the normal way in which we connect to each other it is most certainly promotes community and interaction between users.

Mobsters2

It has become nearly impossible to log into Facebook without getting one notification or another alerting you of one game invite or another. In this way, Facebook has become nothing more than just anothergame portal providing games for people to play. These games for the most part are fun little flash games that allowi you to interact with friends and others. These games do have their fun moments, allowing people to see how their friends and family play, giving bragging rights to some extent. Such games like Farm Ville and Mobsters2 are examples of the games that can be found on Facebook. Every day there is a new game on Facebook. In that sense the gaming potential of Facebook becomes close to infinite, with its never ending pool of games to draw from.

Sometime in November, Xbox plans to release their Facebook app which allows its users to update their Facebook status from their consoles. It is expected that this will also update whenever you earn an achievement in a game or start playing a game. This is just another sign of how Facebook is becoming integral to gaming. Gaming is becoming progressively more about socializing than the actual game-play in and of itself. The very trend of multiplayer gaming encourages this ability to share and socialize, so it seems only natural that it would extend beyond the bounds of traditional gaming as the world constantly becomes even more interconnected thanks to the internet.

Even if Facebook is not the future of gaming, it is certain that many game portals on the Internet will adapt and borrow from Facebook, making use of the concepts which enabled Facebook to grow at such a rapid rate. In an attempt to borrow from this success, these sites will try and cater to the growing desire of the public to be able to share their results with their friends and family, letting them know what they are up to sharing these results with everyone.

Farmville Ad

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Facebook

http://vator.tv

http://www.elizabethengelhardt.com

Street Fighter 4, back to the basics

In the fourth installment of the Street Fighter franchise, all of your favorite characters are back in the new take on the arcade game. You battle through story mode, making your way to the final battle as you unlock characters and alternative colors. This game is a classic throughback to all those people who loved the earlier editions of this game.

Game Play

Game play can be downright intense. Even on the easiest setting you can feel overwhelmed as you battle your way through arcade mode, fighting the various opponents available. The game runs rather fluidly though there were times when I wished it ran smoother; but over-all it’s fine. The cut scenes prior to the fights can at times be extremely funny and some of them actually give the game a bit of a story, barely any real story at all. There is an new addition to this game where the EX moves allow you to absorb energy from special attacks and use it to recharge your health. This can be useful if you time it right, allowing you to gain back just enough energy to push through to your eventual victory. All of the specials are back, along with a few new ones. The configuration for combat follows the old rock, paper, scissors format. This means one move beats another and then another move beats the first type. The game in and of itself might be ideal for those who play fighting games, for the people who pick this up for the casual experience they will be disappointed. The controls are somewhat difficult and the easiest setting can been very difficult.

The Good

The game’s graphics are a big step up from the previous games, though they managed to keep that sort of old-school arcade look with the extremely disproportionate body figures. Not to mention the graphics feel 2-D at times even when they are 3-D. This is not a bad thing. In my opinion, it allows for a continued enjoyment of the game’s heritage. The backgrounds to the fights are also a big plus. A great deal of time and detail has clearly been put into these backgrounds, which range from a random parking lot to a stadium full of people falling into the arena you are fighting in. There are a bunch of unlockable characteristics, and while not adding much to the game itself. They do add a nice bit of customization to the characters.

The Bad

There are a bunch of bad things about this game, though the majority more or less have to do with your level of experience in fighting games. If you are new to fighting games then you will be in for a shock. The controls are difficult to master, coming out downright clunky and awkward. The voicing, while not a key component, could use some work. Also, arcade mode defaults you to play ranked matches while connected to the Internet. It takes some doing, but there is a way to turn this off. It’s just a pain to find and more than likely whoever is playing will become frustrated to the point that they will disconnect so they can make it through the game without receiving the overly annoying “New challenger” notification.

Whim Rating:3/5

Official Trailer

Video from an outside source

pictures from:

ps3.ign.com

adrianruhi.wordpress.com

http://www.destructoid.com

The end of the paper books?

The book lovers within all of us cry out as yet another electron reader is announced, signaling the beginning of the end. Imagine the concept of having thousands of books at your fingertips a simple tap away. That has become reality with the planned release of Barnes & Nobles “Nook” E-reader.

Electronic readers have been billed as the end of paper books, the end may be one step closer. Barnes & Noble recently announced that they are prepared to release an e-reader later this year. While at the hefty price of $259 it may not exactly be a book killer, but it is comparable similar devices on the marketcurrently. E-readers have been on the market for quite some time, providing electronic forms of paper back books. The fact that this is being pushed by Barnes & Noble puts a fair amount of weight behind the companies’ choice to provide this product.

The e-reader will be called the Nook. It will sport the most recent version of electronic paper. E-paper is a recent novelty and this version of it will be provided by E-inc. The Nook will also sport a wireless connection allowing it to connect to other Nooks along with a retailer’s Web site, enabling people to purchase books electronically. Purchases can be lent to friend’s Nooks for up to 14 days at a time. The Nook will also have a small touch screen for control and typing, making it among the most impressive e-readers to be released in the past few years.

The Nook will run on google’s micro-operating system known as Android. This OS is designed specificallyfor small mobile devices. The Nook will offer subscriptions to over 50 different news papers. With two gigabytes of internal memory, the Nook will be able to hold up to an impressive 1,500 books, and with the addition of a additional flash memory slot, it can hold a great deal more. It is hoped that eventually customers will be able to read e-books for free while inside of a Barnes & Noble store. Along with this option users will also be treated to special offers while inside the store that will pop up on the screen of the Nook.

While the Nook may not be a book-killer quite yet, but it is obviously a move in the right direction. As more and more of these e-reader devices flood the market, the prices will be certain to drop. It will not be long before people weigh the portability and ease of having a mass number of books at their fingertips with the price. It is entirely possible that paper books will eventually become a figment of the past.

Ad for the Nook.

Video from an outside source.

Images from:

http://www.treehugger.com

http://www.wired.com

Barnes & Noble

South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!

Earlier this month, the producers of South Park, with the help of Microsoft and its game studios, produced the game South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!. The game is more or less a bigger version of a standard flash game. The story revolves around the town of South Park being attacked by various enemies. The player must protect the town from these invading forces of evil. The early part of the game is spent focusing a decent amount of time unlocking Kyle, Stan and Kenny. Though you start the game unlocking the original four characters, as the game continues there are opportunities to unlock more of the characters from South Park, each one playable.

Game Play

The game is more or less your standard tower defense game. The players runs around as their favorite character setting up towers to defend the pathways that lead into town. During this endevor you willface the evil forces of gingers, hippies, cows and more. The only real twist to the normal tower defense gameplay type is when it comes to the usage of the main characters from South Park. They work likemobile towers and are able to move from one side of the map to another, under control of the person playing, allowing one to shore up areas where defense looks as though it is going to fail. Another interesting addition to the over all game play is special powers that are specific to each character. For instance, Cartman’s power, once built up brings down fire, while Stan’s restores the town’s wealth which more or less acts as the towns health. A knocked down character stays down until another character comes to revive them, this has become an extremely common aspect in just about every game so it is no surprise to see it here.

The Good

This game is great for people who are fans of South Park. The dialog for the game is extremely amusing as Cartman or one of the other boys chimes in with some random comment about the enemies. The transition screens are funny, as well. The voicing for them fits in very nicely with the game’s concept. The scenes when your characters use their special powers are well done and well planned. The games multiplayer function is actually useful and encourages you to play with three other people in the harder parts of the game having some back up can be a good thing. The storyline is uniquely South Park in nature; your enemies are those who you have seen throughout the series which is a nice touch for South Park fans everywhere.

The Bad

There really isn’t all that much that is wrong with this game. There are times when the game play seems a bit glitchy where you try to attack one of enemy and attack and entirely different one. This can be truly annoying when you are attempting to prevent one enemy from slipping through and end up hitting and entirely different one, costing you the game. The music for the game can become annoying at times, but it’s well suited for the fast paced game play that comes with the tower defense genre.

Whim Rating: 4/5

Video from an outside source

Images from:

http://www.sfx-360.com

http://bulk2.destructoid.com

http://img.jeuxvideo.fr

The rise of the Social Web site

In recent years there has been a surge in social Web sites. These Web sites are not limited to social networking, they expand to cover a variety of Web sites, each dedicated to sharing parts of peoples’ lives. These things can span from humor to art. The Internet has just become another device to express oneself. This usage of the Internet as a form of expression is the natural progression as social Web sites become more common. Whether humorous or not these sites are a good way to waste time or brighten a bad day.

FML

This is an example of one of the more humorous social Web sites. On this site people post everyday stories where things have gone wrong. The stories can range from being humorous and funny to being down right disgusting. The only real issue with this site is that as it has grown more and more popular as the stories have become rather outlandish and at times, clearly made up. This Web site is now actively documenting the best of its stories and puttingm them in a book that will be published later this year.

Texts from Last Night (TFLN)

TFLN is a Web site that documents those texts that probably would have been better off not sent; these generally involve drunk texts, stupid texts. The vast majority of the texts found on the Web site are either extremely funny or just nasty at times. The Web site has a somewhat unique way to rate submissions. You can either rate the post as being a good night or a bad night. The vast majority of posts on TFLN come off as being genuine, even the odder ones. This is definitely a great site to waste time between classes.

My Life is Average (MLIA)

This is the third in several very similar websites that give a brief glimpse into peoples’ lives. My Life is Average is a Web site very similar to FML. The main difference between MLIA and FML is that FML focuses on how things have gone horribly wrong, whereas MLIA focuses on everyday things. The things which the story cover can be negative, positive or just down-right strange at times.

Other sites

The sites above are purely social. While not encouraging networking they do allow people to reveal glimpses of their everyday lives. In this way, they are social Web sites creating a line of communication that would not normally be there. There are sites designed purely for socializing, though the majority of those Web sites are well known. Examples of such sites are Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. Twitter may not be not as widely used as the other two, because the concept of a micro blog is still rather new, but it is quickly gaining ground on the others. Myspace and Facebook, both of which are extremely well known social networking sites, also fall into this category of social Web sites.

On the note about Twitter you can follow me @whimtech on Twitter.

Halo 3: ODST dropping into stores near you

In this installment of the well-known Halo franchise, players play as an orbital drop shock trooper. You are put into the shoes of the teams rookie, who, like in most games, is simply referred to as “rookie.” He is the strong silent type\. You and your squad are orbiting earth as you get orders and prepare to take the leap. Before the rookie makes the jump he is introduced to two new faces: Buck the squad leader and Dare, a woman full of mysteries.

The rookie quickly learns why others call those in the

ODST “Hell Jumpers” as he plummets down toward the waiting battlefield of New Mombasa. The jump goes wrong as the Covenant ship makes an emergency escape, sending your squad scattered about the city. The rookie wakes up six hours later to find much of the city in ruins.

Game Play

The game in and of itself plays very much like the previous editions of the game. The gameplay is smooth and rather simple, what one would expect coming from Bungie. While the game plays like its predecessors, there are still enough changes to make it fun. Gone is the self healing and gravity defying spartan amour, replaced with light combat armor. While your character can still jump higher than most normal people, it is hardly the super-jump of previous Halo games. The loss of regeneration means you have to be much more careful in the urban battle environment as you face the troops of the covenant who are searching the city for survivors. The heads up display (HUD) for the game is built into the visor for our ODST rookie. The HUD in ODST is a rather unique and fun addition. Not only does it work as a form of night vision, it highlights enemies and points of interest. Another addition to ODST is a new game mode known as firefight. It is very similar to horde in Gears of War 2, where you face countless waves of enemies, hoping to survive until the end.

The Good

The graphics for the game were stunning, especially the drop scene as you cut through the clouds and come flying towards the city as it is under attack. The detail put into the city is great, including the cities AI, the Superintendent who helps guide you to hidden audio tracks and provides health and ammunition packs at various stations. The game has an in-depth and intense story as you try to piece together all that has gone wrong in the six hours while your rookie has been unconscious. The story is what makes this game, with its in-depth acting and rich content. Without the story it would just be another Halo game; nothing special.

The Bad

There isn’t all that much that is overwhelmingly bad about this game. There are a few things, like the maps being confusing at times, or that the HUD can be very disorientating at first as it makes everything shiny. My main point of contention with the game is the firefight mode, the mode in and of itself is solid and fun, but the restriction to friends-only can make it a pain to get people together to play it at times. Often times you can find yourself just lurking on the 360 dash board, waiting for someone to get on so you have someone to play with.

My Rating: 5/5

Official Game Trailer.

The live action trailer.

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Saw: The Video Game

Saw: The Video Game is a interesting mix of the numerous movies, incorporating things that are iconic to the movies into a hodge-podge mix. The game opens up with your character being among Saw’s latest victims trapped in an insane asylum. You must find your way out or face death at the hands of the master of riddles and puzzles: Jigsaw. This game follows the basic storyline for the majority of the movies, and is rather ideal for anyone who happens to be a fan of the “Saw” movies.

Gameplay

Game play itself is rather simple and straightforward. The game is more or less a combination of a puzzle and adventure-fighting game. The overall graphics are okay nothing to get excited over. The atmosphere for the game really captures the spirit of “Saw” as a dark foreboding place. You truly feel as though you are in an abandoned insane asylum. The controls can often be somewhat clunky at times, not nearly as smooth as you would expect with this generation’s games. Though overall the game has its fun moments: as you fail to solve a puzzle and your character gets its head crushed or is killed in any number of random and gruesome means. These cut scenes used for the executions are among the best in the game.

The Good

The scenes where you are executed are always shocking and good for a gross-out moment or two. This can really cause you to become deeply engrossed into the game, soaking up every aspect as Jigsaw gives your character a mission for whichever level of the game you are playing. You will find yourself desperately moving to solve the puzzles and trying to find your escape from the insane asylum and get away from Jigsaw. The music also helps set the atmosphere with suitably creepy and dark-sounding music as you make your way through the asylum.

The Bad

At times, the game is extremely clunky when it comes to the combat. While not horrible, it is still notably awkward. The puzzles become tedious and utterly repetitive at times; there are only so many times you can search for a key or try to find a combination while enduring some horrible pain or having to preform some gruesome act before it becomes utterly and completely boring. While the game has its fair share of scenes where you fail a mission and are swiftly killed by one trap or another, the game animation itself becomes sort of repetitive as you make your way through the various puzzles.

Whim Rating: 3/5

Official Game trailer

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Konami

Stumbleupon: a new way to browse the Web

While perhaps not as new as the title of this article suggests, Stumbleupon is definitely a different way to browse the Internet. What was originally a tool bar add on for Mozilla’s Firefox has taken on a life of its own. Released sometime in 2003, this add on to the popular browser allowed you select things of interest on a list. This was done of course after one had made a profile, allowing Stumble to store the information you selected. This way, even if you changed computers you were still free to stumble. From there, all you needed to do was press the Stumble button and away you went: a website would randomly be picked that matched some of your interests. You can keep on stumbling until you found something you liked. The majority of the sights were user submitted and labelled.

From its humble beginnings, Stumble has grown, now allowing you to add your own categories, not just the suggested few. It also gained a ‘pictures’ and ‘movies’ feature. These two features allowed you to sort through user suggested movies and pictures, making it almost certain you would find something that you would like. It was not long before Stumble was no longer a purely Firefox add on, making the jump to Internet Explorer as well.

Users can even jot down reviews and a rating system for the websites, giving the user submitted content real scrutiny, allowing to avoid the sites that somehow managed to get submitted that really didn’t deserve

to be. Letting someone know whether the site you are visiting is worthwhile or not is as simple as a thumbs up or down, both of which are a built-in part of the tool bar.

In its own way, Stumble is helping us to reclassify and organize the Internet in a way to understand it better. No longer do you have to spend countless amounts of time aimlessly wandering through search engine after search engine looking for something to interest you just based on your key-terms. Now there is a way to sift out the good from the bad and someone else has done most of the work. That is half of the advantage of Stumble. If someone else likes the web site enough to submit it, then more than likely you will like it was well. Another thing that makes stumble such a great program is that it helps you find those small sites that normally wouldn’t receive that much attention on a standard search engine. In this way, Stumble certainly helps you stumble upon the unknown. There is a bit of a downside to having all you want just one click away: the purely addictive nature of Stumble. More often than not, you will find it ever harder to stop cycling through that ever-growing catalog of web sites in anticipation of what stumble will bring up next.


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basbasbas.com

Stumbleupon.com

OnLive: the future of gaming…or not

OnLive is being billed as the future of video gaming. To explain Onlive is sort of difficult. It works via the principle of cloud processing. Cloud processing is where the majority of the processing and the work that would normally be associated with something like playing a video game or running a CPU-intensive program is done in a remote location and the results are streamed back to you.

Onlive plans to use cloud processing to run video games and then stream the video content back to the individual’s computer or OnLive console. The idea behind this is that it would eliminate the need to constantly buy games. Instead, one would sign up to a subscription service, allowing them access to the Onlive system. From there, they would be able to purchase licencing for games stored on the Onlive servers. No more waiting to receive a game disk or even download and install it. Also, there would be the entire death of the whole console-wars concept, since what would be updating would be the massive amounts of servers that would be required to run this system.

Onlive often-times seems as though it is going to run purely upon voodoo magic. Many of the designers’ concepts and ideals seem rather unrealistic. One of the major claims that the makers of Onlive are claiming is that Onlive will eliminate lag all together. While that seems like a great idea, how will there not be lag when the video stream on which you are playing is streamed to you from a central server somewhere? Another one of the company’s strange and somewhat premature claims involves claiming to have a massive community when the system has just entered beta.

Most recently, Onlive got a huge shot in the arm as far as its finances were concerned. It looked as though the Onlive project was going to be a pipe dream lacking serious capital to help support the massive amounts of servers required to for the system to work as proposed. The sudden addition of sponsorship by AT&T is making people look again at Onlive’s somewhat outrageous claims. Perhaps there is more to it than a company just trying to drum up business.

While this concept seems rather ideal at the time being, it may be harder to take off in the gamer community that still looks somewhat wearily at the latest and greatest concepts of motion-capture gaming. To them, this will just seem like one more abrupt change for the game community, a change that will take more of the material aspect of games away. However, there is something to be said about being able to hold a game in your hands and know that you own it. That will ultimately be lost by this streaming gaming concept.

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maximumpc.com

Google Chrome: Both an OS and a Web browser

Late last year Google unveiled Google Chrome. Rumors were abound about it being some sort of operating system (OS) to give Microsoft Windows a run for its money. At the time, people and rumor-mongers alike could not have been further from the truth. What Google instead unveiled was a simplified web browser called Google Chrome. It was a sleek, simple browser that loaded pages faster and more accurately than most of its counter-parts. It included tabbed browsing along with a pallet page which showed the user’s most frequently visited sites. That was about it as far as Google Chrome was concerned… Or was it?

Earlier this year, rumors once more abounded about a new OS from Google, though many thought it was in reference to Google’s Android OS, something they had come out with for mobile devices earlier in the year. Once more, the name Google Chrome was tossed about and the rumors eventually died down. Then in July, Google made an official announcement about the Google Chrome OS.

The Google Chrome OS will not be like another OS in current existence, it will be an OS targeted to light-weight, low-powered netbooks. Instead of focusing on the processing power of the OS, it is more concerned with getting people online as fast as possible. The OS itself works like some sort of sped-up web browser, ideally allowing someone to connect online within seconds of loading up their computer. Google also made it clear that security would be a major part of their emphasis for the new OS, trying to make it as virus and spyware-proof as possible. Google has claimed that much like the browser, the OS will be simple and sleek. Will this be on the market for desktops and laptops? Probably not, though netbooks could certainly use something like this.

Google Chrome OS could cause a stir in the netbook market, as the tiny laptops are often bogged down by cumbersome Vista or Mac’s OSX. The two major OS eat up a fair amount of the tiny netbooks’ hard drive and a decent amount of its ram, slowing down what should be a fast little machine. One can always go open-source and find a simple and clean Linux-based OS, assuming you can figure out how to run it. The Google Chrome OS promises to be open-source, meaning it will be more or less free. Combine that with the promise of a sleek, simple interface and it could cause series trouble for its competitors in the netbook market. Google states that the OS could be found in some netbooks as early as the second half of next year, leaving one more thing for those who love all things “google” to look forward to.

Google Chrome OS preview

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blogs.learnnc.org

thetechherald.com