Type your search keyword, and press enter

The Gadget Monkey Talks Kodi on Zetland FM

In my tech hat today, I chatted with Zetland FM host Julie Donaldson about Kodi and illegal “fully loaded” boxes…

Continue reading “The Gadget Monkey Talks Kodi on Zetland FM”

Edit Images with Microsoft Picture Manager

You don’t need to employ expensive image editing packages for simple tasks like resizing and cropping images if you own a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 – the included Microsoft Picture Manager can do the task for you.

To begin, find the image you want to adjust in Windows Explorer (this might be in your My Pictures folder, for instance) and right-click to select the context menu. Use Open with > Microsoft Office 2010 to launch the application.

Continue reading “Edit Images with Microsoft Picture Manager”

More from Elite: Dangerous

Now halfway towards the massive total of £1.25 million needed to meet the development costs of Elite: Dangerous and with just under a month still to go, if you haven’t checked out the videos on the project’s Kickstarter page, you’re missing out!

Elite: Dangerous can be backed on Kickstarter

The project appears to be as ambitious as hoped, with the Kickstarter page playing host to a variety of movie clips and stunning stills (like the one above).

Developer diaries, interviews and podcasts are all present, and things are looking extremely exciting – but the project still has only 50% of the required funding.

“Elite: Dangerous” is the latest installment of a long series of epic space games, starting with “Elite” – one of the most successful games of the 1980s.

Fight, trade, hunt your way across a giant galaxy of billions of star systems, starting with a basic starship and a few credits. You can make money from trading goods between the many star systems, by destroying pirate ships (and collecting bounty), or even by attacking traders and collecting their cargo (which in turn will get a bounty on your head!). There will be missions too, and exploration. Most people will do some combination of these things. Upgrade your ship and specialise in one activity – have a trader with a huge cargo bay, or use the space for weapons and maneuverability.

Real Freedom – Go where you like, be what you like – pirate, bounty hunter, trader, assassin, or some mix of all of these.

Trade – Buy low, cross dangerous space lanes, evade or destroy pirates en route, then sell high, if you make the journey!

Fight – Take on the pirates or be one yourself

Progress – Get your pilot rating all the way from “Harmless” to “Elite”

Explore – Head out to the far reaches of space and discover amazing sights

And the best part – you can do all this online with your friends, or other “Elite” pilots like yourself, or even alone. The choice is yours…

The details above paint a picture of a much-wanted update to a much-missed game (responsible for the loss of many hours of many a teenage lad’s life), and the various rewards such as digital newsletters, in-game decals and Commander name reservation (not to mention a copy of Elite: Dangerous) that are available for the sub £30 pledges are certainly worth having.

If you’re interested in seeing a classic game brought back to life, please head over to the Kickstarter page now and help this dream become a reality. We have, because we really want to play it – you should too!

Game Sales Dip – Not the Beginning of the End

Consumer research firm NPD has revealed that annual US video game sales have dropped, despite the strong showing of the latest Call of Duty and Halo sequels.

Call of Duty: Black Ops - massive sales couldn't help the games industry in 2012

According to NPD, the overall drop is due to lower sales on less popular titles.

“Despite an overall retail video game decline of 11%, November had the smallest year-over-year decrease we have seen for dollar and unit sales so far this year,” it said in a statement.

“Overall entertainment software units decreased by 15%, however, when comparing the performance of the top five titles from this year to last, we see a rise in unit sales of 5% – games outside of the top five sold less, leading to overall declines.”

On top of this, November 2012 saw fewer releases than the same period in 2011. However, all is not lost – this isn’t the end of digital gaming, despite what some doom mongers might be claiming. NPD don’t include figures for Steam and mobile gaming, while general belt tightening and high unemployment in the USA could of course be contributing. Add to this the recent release of the Nintendo Wii U potentially holding off potential purchases to gauge reception and even the expected release of the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles in 2013, and you can see that it really is business as usual.

After all, Activision reports Call of Duty Black Ops 2 sold over $1bn (£624m; 773m euros) copies worldwide during its first 15 days of release. And hasn’t the way we play games changed anyway?

Homemade 3D Printed Motorized Transformer!

I’m a big fan of Transformers, ever since I was bought an original Bumblebee back in 1984 and received Hound for Christmas a few months later.

Over the years I got progressively larger Transformer toys, more and more often, a bit like a drug habit, always chasing the next fix. At one point I even owned Trypticon (a rare motorised Decepticon) and have a version of Optimus Prime that features some automation.

However, I was always intrigued by the possibilities of motorized transformation, but it wasn’t something that Hasbro seemed able to bring to the range with any confidence.

Fortunately, I no longer have to imagine what it would be like – thanks to this guy and his 3D printer, neither do you…

Amazing stuff. Altogether now: I want one!

If this doesn’t convince you of the power of 3D printing, nothing will…

The Death of the Kin – On Film

Remember the Kin? Of course you do! No, really, you should – it was the original Windows Phone, Microsoft’s first attempt to redefine mobile phones after Windows Mobile was pushed face down in the dust by Android and iOS.

However, the platform died a death very early (making webOS look positively ancient) and Microsoft quietly swept it away, under a big carpet. Visually it was an interesting device, but the real problem was that it just didn’t work, for one reason or another.

Wired have recently released these videos of the Kin being tested. It’s not pleasant.

It seems that even dialling – that most basic of phone functions – was difficult:

The lag wasn’t limited to fialling, either….

Somehow the Kin was launched, despite the evidence seen here – to pretty poor reviews. The evolution of the Kin is a little convoluted – it’s inspired-yet-flawed social networking integration would be removed, downgrading the phone to a feature phone – but essentially it didn’t live long past the summer of 2010, existing in the wild in its original form for about two months.

Of course, there is a happy takeaway from all this – without the very patient testing group, Kin wouldn’t have been dropped, and I wouldn’t be sat here with a nice new Windows Phone 8 😀

(Via the wonderful WPCentral)

Windows Phone Apps Mysteriously Dropped…

Playing with my new Nokia Lumia 920 this week, I noticed that there were few titles missing from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

image

I don’t mean missing as in “there’s no app/it’s shit!” but in the sense of they were there a few weeks ago on my Windows Phone 7.5 handset, but where are they now?

Most crucially, I wanted to restore the same app set to my new Windows Phone 8 device, but the lack of some key apps and games made this impossible.

My list at present consists of:

  • Spotify
  • Crimson Dragon
  • Sid Meier’s Pirates
  • Pulse
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Tango
  • AskZiggy
  • TuneIn Radio

These are apps that I consider usable on Windows Phone 8 as far as functionality goes. Games speak for themselves.

The biggest omission is obviously Spotify, followed by TuneIn Radio. I’m a big fan of the latter, and I’m really missing the lack of any public response from Microsoft or the app developers.

Three weeks into Windows Phone 8 going live, I don’t think that this is good enough. The SDK has been available for months – it’s not as though the developers of these titles didn’t know about it.

Does iOSification Stand in the Way of Mountain Lion Take Up?

News that just 25% of Mac users have upgraded to the latest release of OS X has lead to a variety of theories as to why this might be the case. Top of the list is the operating system’s march towards looking and feeling like it’s “little brother”, iOS.

Why have only 25% of Mac users upgraded to Mountain Lion?

Given that Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion features some considerable performance boosts, the fact that take up isn’t higher (I mean, it’s only $19.95 to upgrade!) has lead some to question if the main player, Snow Leopard, might become Apple’s equivalent of Windows XP.

There are, of course, various advantages to using Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. To begin with, there is the compatibility with PowerPC applications which later versions of the operating system don’t support. There’s also the Hackintosh phenomenon – sadly it is becoming trickier to install Mac OS on newer non-Mac hardware, but Snow Leopard can be configured to run on a large selection of systems and even as a virtual machine on computers with AMD processors.

Financial constraints on users might also be to blame, although the low cost of the software upgrade (as opposed to the hardware) suggests otherwise. The real problem might simply be Apple’s growing popularity as the “friendly” and “usable” platform is reaching a new audience that has already been through enough transferring from Windows and doesn’t want the perceived hassle of yet another “upgrade”.

But what of the iOSification of the platform? Seen by some as inevitable, you only need to glance at Launchpad, Mail, iPhoto and many other Apple and third party apps to see that the whole look, style and ethos of iOS is being adapted wholesale for what is a desktop computing platform. This isn’t to everyone’s tastes.

What is most interesting about this is that it puts Apple into a situation similar to that experienced by Microsoft since Windows XP’s initial end of life date. Now extended to 2014 (although with a share of 41% earlier this year, that date seems extremely optimistic) Windows XP support is a major bugbear for Microsoft, particularly as it isn’t Metro friendly and can’t even run Office 2013. Yet it persists in popularity among users and games publishers.

Apple were forced to issue a patch for Snow Leopard in September 2012, something that isn’t usually done for the last-but-one release. Usually at this stage support is dropped, so it will be interesting going forward to see how Cupertino deals with this particular problem.

In the meantime, they’ll be hoping that the low price and the coming holiday season leads to an increase in the uptake of upgrades…

Megan Fox: She Talks to the Animals!

You know, virtually every red blooded male on the planet fancies Transformers actress Megan Fox – but who knew that her real dream wasn’t to act, but to become a real-life Doctor Doolittle? (Note that this is a post sponsored by Acer).

Thanks to the new Acer S7 running Windows 8, Megan “Foxy” Fox was able to achieve her amazing ambition of chatting with dolphins – with the help of a bunch of nerdy scientists, of course…

 

 

The Acer S7 series of ultrabooks is an extremely impressive line, sporting a 12.2mm slimline form, back-lit keyboard, 180° opening and Gorilla Glass-protected Full HD display and comes in two versions, the 13.3″ model or the ultra-mobile 11.6″ build. Wielding Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, 4 GB of RAM and a minimum 256 GB SSD, these are hardcore professional portable computers.

Find out more at us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/series/aspires7.

New Windows Phone Ad Sneak Peak

Not content with lacing soap operas and other shows with their Lumia phones, Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone, the Lumia 920, plays a leading role in a new TV advertising campaign starring Holly Willoughby (This Morning, Dancing on Ice, Celebrity Juice).

Promoting the phone to busy working Mum’s and highlighting the Kids’ Corner hub is a wise move, however, and if the campaign gets the right audience – namely those watching Willoughby on a weekday morning – then this could certainly prove in Nokia and Microsoft’s favour.

For those Metro naysayers out there, a word in your shell-like. If Windows Phone can gain some good market share, Nokia should be able to survive – something that is in everyone’s best interests. Additionally, if Windows Phone can make a decent stab at the market, perhaps it might inspire Apple to try something different with their tired rows of icons…