Category Archives: Science, Tech, & Health

Bamboo voodoo

Bamboo Craft is one model in the line of magic-like tablet devices. To make, it clear these tablet devices are not tablet computers, though they do work on a similar concept. These tablets are pressure sensitive. They allow for more natural drawing styles for those who spend their time working on graphics programs such as Adobe Illustrator. The tablet can plug into any computer using an USB port.

This doesn’t mean they don’t have a place in the general marketable public, but at prices starting around $150, they aren’t exactly the cheapest toy on the block, though with the hefty price tag comes some pretty cool features. Wacom, maker of Bamboo Craft, recently come out with a version of their original Bamboo Craft. This latest edition boasts a newer, more sensitive pen stylus that allows for more natural hand writing, along with some impressive multi-touch features. These features work much like those on the iTouch, using gestures to indicate what you want it to do. Some of these features are basic track-pad functions, similar to a laptop mouse.

Another cheaper tablet option is the Genius G pen. You can pick it up for about $40. Because it is cheaper, it is not in the same range as the Bamboo Craft. It has the most basic features. Those features including simple Web browsing, replacing your mouse with the pen that comes with the tablet and hand-writing in documents.

While not the cheapest product, it is definitely a cheap alternative to the other non-tablet options. Such options are tablet PCs and laptops. Both are relatively new to the market in comparison to tablets, which have been around for a while. That being said, the G Pen may pack a better bang for your buck, as the other two options still have bugs and sensitivity issues to work out.

Wacom claims that their product allows you to get hands-on with your projects. From all appearances, that seems to be the case. While the Bamboo Craft may not be a cheap toy, it appears to be a fun one. It allows for a higher degree of precision on image-editing software.

This is probably not the device for your occasional image editor, though it is the perfect device for your image editing tinkerer who gets frustrated when using a clunky, inaccurate mouse, or someone who just wants to feel more in touch with their project. For these people the price is well worth all the voodoo it provides.

Cover and story photo by Kasey Sutphin

Retro gaming corner: Partying with Mario Party

Photo from Creative Commons

Mario Party is a game that managed to survive the decades fighting on through the changes in the market. It’s about time the original 1998 game was looked over and was held to today’s standards.

Game Play:

Game play is fairly straightforward. It is more or less like a board game. You pick your character and map, and then you move to the beginning square. Each player rolls to see who gets to go first. From there, players roll to see how many spaces they can move. Some spaces are traps that take away coins, while others trigger events or mini games. At the end of each round, a four person mini game is triggered. In this mini game, players compete to win coins. In some cases, the mini game takes coins from the players who lose and gives them to their opponent. As you move around the map, coins become important. They allow you to buy stars, a key for winning. The person with the most stars wins.

The four-player mini games can get rather intense as people battle to gain and/or keep their coins, desperate to save enough to buy a star. A lot more strategy is used in these mini game battles than one would think. You are sometimes better off not running head-first into whatever mini game, but taking your time and waiting for the other players to mess up.

Bonus stars add a complex element to the game. The game records how many coins you earn throughout the match and tallies them up. The person with the most total coins wins the coin star. There is also a mini game star for the person who gets the most coins from mini games, and a happening star for the person who triggered the most events. This bonus star component makes it harder to predict who will win.

The Good:

It is perhaps one of the funnest and most intense four-person games out there. You become so immersed within your character that it becomes hard not to scream at the top of your lungs when something bad happens to them. The mini games are fun and quick, leaving no doubt as to who the winner is in the end.

The Bad:

Since this review is based on current-day standards, the graphics are horrible and come out stretched and pixelated on most TVs. You can adjust it on most TVs, but not enough to make that much of a difference. Every time you fail to have enough money to buy a star, Toad makes the single most annoying sound in the world. By the end of the game, Toad and his family are in risk of being destroyed just because he can’t stop making that whining noise. The game’s music is horrible and cheesy, hardly comparing to today’s games. Controls with the Nintendo 64 are clunky and painful for the games that use the joystick portion.

Final Thoughts:

Even with all of its flaws, compared to current games, it is still among the most amusing and challenging games to play, though all of that depends on who you play with. It might not have the flair or the style of modern games, but there is just something about that nostalgic feel of watching 64-bit characters beating the crap out of each. Other than that it is just, well, amazing.

Whim Rating: 4.5/5

Don’t Be Left4Dead 2

Valve, the makers of Left4dead, recently released the sequel to their popular game. Left4Dead2 is moreof the same zombie killing goodness that its predecessor flaunted in mass. Though this time it comes with a cajun flavor, the background to this version of the game being Louisiana.

Game Play

Game play is more or less the same as what was found in the prequel. The game introduces a number of new characters. These new characters are Coach, Ellis, Nick and Rochelle. Coach is an overweight football coach with a bum knee. Ellis is a mechanic and tends to say some of the funnier things in the character dialogue. Nick is a con artist and gambler. Rochelle is a low-level assistant at a television station who was reporting on the evacuation.

There are also a number of new special infected along with level-specific zombies. The level-specific zombies are known as uncommon infected. They are harder to kill thanks to equipment they were wearing prior to becoming infected. These uncommon infected range from zombies wearing riot gear making them nearly bullet proof to wearing hazmat suits that are fire proof. There are also new special infecteds such as the charger, the jockey and the spitter. The old special zombies have been tweaked and modifications have been made to some of their behavior. For example: on some campaign levels, the witch is now capable of wandering around aimlessly, able to strike at any moment.

The game also runs off of a new artificial intelligence known as the Director. The Director does a number of things for the game in hopes of taking away some of the repetitive play troughs found in the older game. The Director forces players through more treacherous paths in the game, basing its actions on the players’ skill level and how they have done throughout. The Director can also manipulate physical elements of the game such as lighting, weather and placement of walls. In effect the director is in charge of how the game flows and encourages players to take longer paths to reach their goal by providing better weapons and more health packs for taking a greater risk.

Valve has made a number of adjustments to the items found in the game. One such addition to the game

Image from the opening http://pcmedia.ign.com
front picture: http://www.platformnation.com Large picture: http://www.wouldyoukindly.com Image two:IGN.com Image three: http://pcmedia.ign.com

play is the addition of melee weapons such as chain saws, ninja swords, axes and, of course, the frying pan. This adds an interesting component to the game as players have to decide whether to keep their pistols or trade them out for melee weapons. Another addition to the game is the adrenaline shot. This item does not heal characters instead it allows them to ignore their pain and continue to run when their health is low. The bile bomb is a bomb that makes use of the boomer vile; allowing you to coat infected with it, causing them to attack each other.

The Good

There is nothing quite like watching zombie body parts go flying as characters make use of the melee weapons. It has to be one of the more amusing sights to the game. Dialogue between characters is funny and fitting, as they make their way through the game. The AI does a good job of making each play through a unique and interesting experience. It also does a good job of controlling the atmosphere of the game allowing for the correct amount of tension to build before each zombie horde. The bile bomb has to be one of the best weapons in the game watching as a horde of zombies swarm a tank knocking down its health for you is a nice relief when low on ammo.

The Bad

Their really isn’t all that much to say negatively about the game. The one sticking point are the graphics they are not nearly as sharp as they could and should be. Also at times some of the zombies’ movements don’t look entirely natural, rather a bit mechanical.

Whim Rating 5/5

Hitler on left4dead2

Intro to left4dead2

Pokemon Diamond, Catch Them All

The latest additions to the Pokemon franchise is a bit of a disapointment. In this new addition they take advantage of the Nintendo DS’s touch screen; this opens a number of possibilities that were not available in the previous games. You set off in a new region of the world to discover its secrets and Pokemon.

Game Play

Pokemon Game box. image from, http://nintendods.guias-trucos-juegos.com/

Not much has changed here form the original games. You wander the world battling gym leaders and rivals as you continue/begin the age old quest to become the very best that there ever was. The touch screen is utilized a fair amount of the time. You get a watch like device from the PokeTch company. It comes with applications built in and you gain more throughout the game.These apps use the touch screen to be activated. The new bag makes use of the touch screen as well, allowing players to cycle throughthe numerous specialty pockets with ease. The games keeps the contest system which was introduced during the last generation of games. The contest system is similar to a fashion show for Pokemon. Another new features which not only takes advantage of the touch screen but also takes advantage of theNintendo DS’s wi-fi capabilities is the underground. In the underground, you have the opportunity to set up a secret base; not exactly a new concept to the Pokemon universe. What is different is the ability to not only visit friends’ bases but also steal certain items from them. The underground also gives you an opportunity to find fossils and other items that can either be redeemed for better stuff or used on its own. There isn’t much to say about the game play in the game. Its your standard, go places, do this go somewhere else do that-sort of play.

The Good

The upgraded graphics for the game really shine though during battle sequences. Each move has its own special animation, the vast majority of them looking awesome. Music is pretty much what you expect from a Pokemon game but is good for a nice nostalgic reminder of the past. Battle mechanics flow smoothly with the random encounters with wild Pokemon in the world. Underground is a definite plus to this game. It is fun to play alone and even more fun when playing within it against people as you try and find their secret base.

The Bad

There is plenty that isn’t bad but definitely could be improved upon, the chief thing among those is the graphics. The graphics, while an improvement from the previous game, could be improved more. Besides the attack sequences, the graphics for the battles and the majority of the game don’t look as though they have been upgraded since the last generation of games in the Pokemon franchise. The touch screen, while a nifty little addition to the game, could of been used much more often. Instead of it being used for accessories, it could have been used for movement, which would have opened an entirely new dimension to the game.

Final Thoughts

The game is a good play for nostalgia purposes and in general provides a solid amount of game play. The game has its fun moments as you destroy your rivals again and again. Battles are short but intense, especially the ones that aren’t won. Hours can be spent training up certain Pokemon just to face a particular gym leader or elite four. The game is worth getting, even with the developers apparent laziness.

Whim Rating: 3/5

Game Play, as shown from YouTube

Trailer: Video from youtube


Move To Recharge Your Portable Life

Aaron Lexis may very well be on the fore front of green energy. While this is probably not a name you think of or have even heard, it is one you may become familiar with. He is the inventor of the personal energy generator (PEG). While this gadget won’t power your homes in the foreseeable future, it will power things that to some people are just as important: their mobile devices.

This device is nine inches long and has a one inch diameter. The central part of the PEG has a 1.5 inch diameter. While the device is a bit on the big size, it is still portable. PEG works on the Michale Faraday’s principle if magnetic induction. Inside the cylinder there are magnets, and as you walk they pass coils of wires which induces an electrical charge. What makes PEG work so well is a set of springs inside which limit the wasted kinetic energy, getting the most out of it possible. According to Lexis’ website for his startup company, Tremont Electronics, in roughly an hour for most electronic devices it is possible to charge up to 8o precent of battery. The figure is based on the person walking for that entire hour.

With interchangeable cords it is possible to charge, 90 precent of all electronic devices, such as cameras, mp3 players and cell phones, just to name a few. There is an assortment of armbands and belt clips in the work to make it more convenient to charge your devices on the go.

The PEG is pretty much ideal for those who can’t be separated from their devices. Just imagine how useful such a device would be on a camping trip where outlets are few and far between and the majority of time is spent moving around as it is. Keep one stowed away in the car. The battery goes dead in your car and your phone, well no problem. Maybe one just wants to lesson their carbon foot print and exercise there is no better way to do both at once. And if you are feeling extremely environmentally conscious you will be glad to hear just about every part of the device is recyclable. The device itself is constructed out of recycled materials, making it a clean device all around.

Tremont Electronics plans to have the device ready to pre-order and ship in time for the Holiday season, but with a price tag of $149 it’s definitely not the cheapest gadget. However it is though among the most environmentally portable chargers out there, lacking the usual internal battery. In many ways this makes it more ideal; no need to worry about having a charge when you are the one making it. While this device might not make it to the mainstream for quite sometime, there is already talk of shrinking down the PEG and having it pre-built into future mobile devices.

Images from:

http://www.greennpower.com

http://www.windpowerbbs.com

Black Friday Tech Survival Tips

Black Friday is the best time of the year for one to get gadgets and devices at discount prices. There are some key things that are required if one hopes to get what they want. With prices on some key items already dropping, compounded with the normal Black Friday sales, competition will be intense.

Crowds waiting to check out on Black Friday. Image from: http://www.insidesocal.com/

The first key thing is to find the sales. Not all stores will be having sales on items that a consumer may want. It is important for you to find where the sales are and what the best deals are. This can be achieved through a number of different ways. The easiest is by going the classic route of ads in the newspaper. The other and sometimes more rewarding option is to check Web sites of various retail stores. Sometimes on their Web sites they have specials that are not always advertised in the newspaper ads.

Prioritize what is most desirable. One has to be willing to accept that it will be hard to get everything. Instead just focus on what is wanted the most and allow the rest to be a nice bonus. Having a primary and secondary sale item that you focus on allows you to avoid getting distracted by other lesser items which will be on sale as well. With thousands of people crammed into a store fighting for the same few sale items it is not a bad idea to plan out ahead of time the fastest path to the desired product. It may be ideal to shop in groups, that way buyers can be certain to at least get a few items on their list.

Get there ahead of time. Not just a few hours ahead of time a day or so ahead of time, would be ideal. It is certain that buyers will be at the front of the line when the store opens for its sales. That way it is key during this period to stay in place no matter what unless, there with a group. Leaving a spot forfeits that spot unless someone is willing to save it. This is why groups are ideal, allowing a great deal of mobility to make bathroom and food runs.

Keep yourself entertained. This one is key. People can only stave off boredom for so long. Handheld gaming systems can help one hold out during the long haul. Hours can be passed in what seems to be minutes when playing some of the more difficult games offered on many handhelds. These don’t have to be recent handheld systems; one can go retro. In fact, that may be preferred. No need to recharge batteries, just pop in some more double AA’s and away you go. Battery powered portable DVD players can also help kill the time. Laptops are good not only for wasting time, but also for keeping an eye on opening times as well as any last minute online.

Follow the tips above and buyers can be certain to get the sale items they want. There are probably plenty more tips and tricks to surviving Black Friday. The ones above are just basic ones. Feel free to share any of your own survival tips in the comment section.

Panick at a store opening on Black Friday

More Badass Than A Badass Skag Borderlands

Borderlands opens with a story, about treasure, women, guns, money and all that good stuff. How does one obtain this untold wealth? The hidden vault of alien technology, which is stored somewhere on the planet of Pandora. You get your choice of four characters to play and seek out the treasure that awaits you on Pandora.

Game Play

Borderlands is sort of difficult to explain. At its most basic level it is a first person shooter that incorporates the loot based and mission aspect of a role playing game. At times, though, Borderlands seems as though it could branch off into its own entirely separate genre. The intense fast game play mixes well with the slow moments in the game, though slow moments are far and few between. The graphic style of the game and its cell shading tends to lure players into a false sense of security, only to be moments later attacked by a random enemy. Towns are no safe haven from attack, as your enemies will follow you right into town and continue attacking. This just adds to the fast and sometimes panicked game play, which adds to the experience.

Players get to choose one of four characters to start the game. These characters are each members of a different job class. The classes are Hunter, Siren, Solider, and Berserker each class offers players a different and unique way to play the game. Hunter class specializes in snipers and magnums as such the hunter skill tree reflects that. The Siren class focuses more on increasing the chance of inflicting specialized effects such as corrosion and burn. The Solider is more of an utility class though it does have some specialization with automatic weapons and shotguns. The majority of the Solider’s skill tree is devoted to its special ability. Berserker class is the final and most powerful of the classes available in the game. Its skills focus on both its special ability and increasing the damage it does with explosives.

Along with their built-in specialized focus, each class has a special ability. These abilities are extremely useful in a pinch. The Hunter class’ ability is to call upon Bloodwing, a pet falcon that attacks your enemies from afar. The skill upgrades for this ability increase the amount of damage Bloodwing does or increases the drop rates on weapons and money for an enemy killed by Bloodwing. Sirens have the ability to phase walk. The phase walk ability allows Sirens to turn invisible and sneak up on enemies. When you come out of phase walk an elemental blast is let off creating a radius of damage around your character. The skill tree ties into this ability by decreasing cool-down time between its usage and other odds and ends to tweak this ability. Soldier class’ ability is to throw out a portable automated gun turret. The turret provides cover fire as well as a built-in shield, allowing players to hide behind while their own shields recharge. The skill tree works with the turret ability, giving players the option to have the turret regenerate health or ammo while nearby. Also one branch of the skill tree focuses on making the turret more powerful.

The controls for the game are fairly basic and feel rather natural to pick up. There is a bit of a learning curve but not much of one. The game takes time to make an obvious effort to explain the controls and other information to the player, forcing you read the information by not allowing you to exit out of those information boxes immediately.

Co-op mode truly transforms this game into a different sort of beast. Outside of co-op the game is a rather decent shooter, fun but a bit of a grinder. In co-op mode the game really opens up, allowing players to push the envelope as the game adapts to enemies becoming harder and the drops becoming better. Co-op mode allows for players to try out different tactics to accomplish missions that otherwise would be extremely difficult to manage alone.

The Good

The game developers half way through production decided to go back and change their graphics. This usually spells disaster for a game. That is not the case with borderlands. Developers displeased with how they had strayed from the concept art went back to the original style and it was a great choice. The art for the game has a definite graphic novel feel that is only enhanced by the choice to use cell shading. In the process, they created one of the more visually stunning games of the year, while it does not have photo-realistic graphics it doesn’t need it. The game’s current almost cartoon-like graphics fit amazingly well with the story, not taking away from game play at all.

Dialogue in the game is amazingly funny. In co-op mode characters will talk to each other, often times complaining if you take too much time to heal or shouting out warnings. Some of the bandits will shout phrases such as, “I’ll make you sorry you ever came here,” usually as they are being shredded to pieces with machine gun fire. It’s not what one would call the most in-depth dialogue, and in truth it does little to add to the overall story, but it is still a rather amusing plus.

The Bad

Weapons. It doesn’t seem that the game can even be mentioned without talking about its massive amount of weapons. For many people this was a major selling point for the game and it was what was pushed the hardest, but while there are plenty of different weapons there isn’t much variety in actual design. The majority of the weapons look similar, just having different status effects or colors. So for those who were looking forward to seeing millions of different styles of gun, this a definite downside.

Bugs. The game on its release is and was one of the buggiest games. There are plenty of bugs which are exploited to the benefit of the players and just as many that are extremely detrimental to the players. Co-op mode, truly the shinning gem of this game, suffers the worst of the bugs. There are occasions where players lose their skill points upon logging out of the game. Gearbox is currently working on a solution.

Final Thoughts

Borderlands is an example of what games can be. It is very much a rejection of the more and more realistic games. The cartoonish art style and the comical interchanges between yourself and the other people of Pandora both build an interesting web that keeps you trapped within this game. It is among one of the most addictive and entrancing games of the 2009 year. It is a game I would definitely suggest to those who savor and enjoy co-op play, as this is when the game shines its brightest. While the game falls somewhat short in its variety of weapon designs there are still plenty of weapons, many of which will have you giggling like a madman as you watch them destroy your enemies. You have to love a game that labels the strongest of the normal enemies as badass. It is a definite must-have.

Whim Rating 4.5

Check out the intense trailer:

Game Play

Images from:

inglorio.us/

www.incgamers.com/

gawker.com

www.borderlandsthegame.com/

video from outside source.

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


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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