Things Have Got a Whole Lot More ‘Realistic’ for Black Ops 3

Gone are the days of running around like a headless chicken, spraying bullets everywhere and ammo drops around every corner. We have been begging for harder game modes for years and slowly, but surely, the difficulty has increased.

The latest game to receive a harder game mode is the upcoming Black Ops III (3). Generally you can choose between easy/novice/hard/expert, but now the developers have introduced “Realistic”. Xbox Achievements Jason Blundell said: “[In Realistic] you have one point of life, so if you’re shot once, you’re dead. It completely changes the way you play the game. You all have to survive as a group. You end up respecting the level in a completely different way, and once gunfire opens up, everyone just drops to the ground, because if any one bullet hits you or a grenade goes off near you, you’re dead.”

The AI’s have also been given an update to “make independent decisions” and there will be “more types of AI than we’ve ever had before” said Blundell.

Will the AI receive a similar one-shot death rule, or are we going to have to stock up on ammo before each kill? Is it just me or does that sound more of a suicidal game mode rather than realistic? Surely realism would be you bleed out unless you have a direct headshot or something just as bad. Let’s find out when the game is finally released on November 6 2015.

Thank you to Gameranx for providing us with this information.

Gears Everywhere! Gears Remastered & Gears 4 Announced!

Gears of War has been a gold mine for Microsoft, with a series of games followed by a range of merchandise, including a board game. Initially owned by Epic Games, the creators of the Unreal engine, Microsoft purchased Gears of War from them earlier this year.  Recently it has been rumoured that Microsoft are looking to relaunch the franchise with a series of HD remastered games, although they have been very careful not to release the details and to silence those who are responsible for leaking them.

This silence has now been broken. Gears Of War: Ultimate edition will bring not only the original game to the Xbox One but also visual upgrades and gameplay features from their latest Gears of Wars games. The Ultimate edition will also feature five campaign chapters that were never released on the Xbox.

In a slightly more shocking twist Gears of War 4 was also announced, with an initial date set somewhere in 2016. Find below the E3 gameplay demo shown for Gears of War 4.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-qwBBLPBJI

With so many Gears of War games coming out its looking more and more like a continuation of the series is coming. Something I am more than happy to look forward to.

Thank you ArsTechnica, Microsoft for the information.

Image courtesy of OnlySP.

What Happens if You Leak Microsoft Gear of War Secrets?

We’ve known for a while now that Gears of War was getting a remake, it’s been rumored for a while now, but finally we have proof. VMC Games is a company contracted to test out new games and like many other companies these contracts comes with an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). But what happens if you break this? Well apparently your Xbox One is removed completely from the online world.

NDAs have been around for a while, companies take them out so the only time anyone can speak about a topic or product is when its done formally through a press release of some kind. Used in everything from courtrooms to government offices, the name gives away that once you sign it, you do not speak about it. An unlucky VMC games tester has unfortunately found out the hard way that Microsoft does not approve of you breaking your contract with them.

By sending a screenshot to a friend about the Gears remake that he was testing, that’s right he was telling his friend what he was working on and then sent him a screen grab of the game, the employee has found that both his bosses and Microsoft are taking action. With both VMC Games’s legal department and no doubt Microsoft’s involved, the employee is in a lot of legal troubles, all the while coupled by the fact they are now banned from the VMC Games program and they are having their Xbox Live access removed. Break the NDA and you lose all access to online functions, both for your account and your Xbox apparently. So break their NDA and you’ll quickly find your online life removed from your Xbox for however long Microsoft deem it necessary.

This was all caused by the fact that, after being tricked into thinking they were working on the same project, the employee sent a Snapchat of the screenshot which was then uploaded to the web before going viral. Not only has this damaged VMC Games reputation and potentially the trust of companies around the world with beta testers as a whole, but one person has lost a job all because a friend tricked them. These were not the only leaks I would like to add, several members of the Beta testing community have been found to have leaked footage and screen shots of the unannounced Gears of War project, and no doubt Microsoft will be making sure that their Xbox Ones are disabled with a swift hand.

What do you think about this situation? Do they deserve it for breaking the NDA, is removing Xbox live access going a little too easy on them?

Thanks to Kotaku and Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of Pichost.

Blizzard Kills Over 100,000 WoW Accounts With Six Month Bans

World Of Warcraft can claim to be the start of the MMO craze. Allowing thousands of players to take part in events that shaped Azeroth. With legendary weapons and characters alike to help and hinder players as Mages and Warriors fighting anything from Dragons to Undead Kings. So you can understand when they find that over a hundred thousand are botting, they want to remove them.

Botting is the process of automating an action, anything from killing low-level creatures to gather the resources they drop to taking place in large player based battles to be used as cannon fodder. Normally Blizzard has a particular way to combat these, study their behaviour then block accounts which are using the same behaviour pattern. This process can take months to complete though, all the while players are finding the in-game markets flooded by both items and players with a lot of money and experience earned the easy way.

With six-month bans stopping accounts who are found to be botting players are happy that their game is now cheater-free, but they are also worried. A lot of players use Macro’s, pre-programmed sets of keys used at the press of a single button. In response Bashiok, a community manager, posted a reply to a worried gamer stating that unless your actions are automated you should be ok.

When I started playing online games years ago I quickly found that I had plenty of competition when it came to taking down creatures or harvesting rare materials, all because of plain characters with random names doing the same task over and over again. Have you ever had a game you liked ruined by bots? What do you think about players who use bots to get resources and experience?

Thanks to PCGamesn for providing us with information.

Thanks to pichostp for the image.

Could this be the End of TV Leaks?

Following the complete blunder at HBO for the massive leak of the first few episodes of the newest Game of Thrones series, it seems the procedure has changed.

Previously HBO sent out DVD copies of the upcoming part or full series to critics for review, but now they are going to start a streaming only policy. The new policy will apply to all of HBO’s programming, but it seems that the primary target is aimed towards preventing more blunders like last month’s Game of Thrones; which spoiled almost half of the season before the premier. The four leaked episodes spread like wildfire, with them being downloaded hundreds of thousands of times within a day. At the time of the leaks, HBO said the episodes were in fact leaked from a group on its approved list and that it was actively searching for the culprits.

“The first round of streaming review copies will start with the next batch of Veep episodes, which will be made available to critics through a secure streaming site. Switching to streaming for press access has become more common as the HD quality of streams has grown more reliable. Currently, ABC and FOX both exclusively use streaming.”

Now in a digital age, where effectively nothing is safe online; surely making access to the upcoming episodes digital will prove more vulnerable? If someone on the internet wants information, they will get it.

How do you think making the new episodes a stream only service will play out? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to IGN for proving us with this information.

How Hard did Iron Man Hit the Hulk in Age of Ultron?

The highest grossing movie of 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron has been out around a week now; sorry USA, you get it tomorrow. In this time, the world has been given a cinematic master class in how movies should look, big and brash to put it bluntly. However, there is one physicist in America that just couldn’t let his mind rest after watching the latest teaser of the Hulk Vs Iron Man Hulkbuster fight; he wanted to figure out how hard that blow needed to be to send him over the other side of the block.

I’m not even going to try and compress this down, this is the ultimate nerd bomb, but first the video.

https://youtu.be/mjx-02XWuzk

“The Mass of Hulk

I know you don’t want to look at this first, but it’s the best place to start. Before looking at the Hulk as he is thrown back from the punch, I need to know his mass. But how could I possibly get the mass of the Hulk? Let me make the following assumptions:

  • He has a similar density as a human being.
  • The Hulk is about 2.5 meters tall—based on how he looks next to Captain America.
  • The Hulk is a bit bulkier than a normal human.

Since I assume the Hulk has the same density as a human, I can use a comparison of volumes (with a human) to find the mass. Suppose that we represent both a human and the Hulk as a cylindrical shaped object.

Since the Hulk isn’t just a tall human, I have to take into account his “bulk”. The volume of the Hulk cylinder is larger both because of the size and because of this “shape” ratio that I call a2. Let me skip right to the fun part. If the Hulk is 2.5 meters tall with a shape coefficient of 1.25 (just a guess), then he would have a mass of about 290 kg.

How Far and How Fast?

Next, let’s look at the video clip to estimate how far the Hulk went after being hit by Iron Man with the Hulkbuster armor. If I can determine how far the Hulk flew back, I can also estimate his speed after getting walloped by Hulkbuster. At first glance, it seems like he is moves back about one city block (or maybe more). Of course, I would like a better estimate.

After poking around on the Internet, it seems clear that this fight takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Better than that, I have found the location of Iron Man when he punched the Hulk. Here it is.

Screen shot from Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer along with images from Google Maps.

Boom. Right there in front of City Hall just to the left of one of those palm trees. Ok, that seems like the location of Iron Man when he hit the Hulk. But where did the Hulk go? From this shot, it appears he went North and away from City Hall.

Screen shot from Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer along with images from Google Maps.

It would seem that the Hulk would land somewhere past that tall building. If you try to find the landing location on Google Maps, you will actually find that it is right about where he started but looking in the opposite direction. If I assume that Hulk goes just past that tall building, his travel distance would be somewhere around 110 meters.

But what about his launch speed? I could use the travel distance and the flight time to get an estimate of the speed but there is one small problem. I don’t actually know the time. The clip shows the Hulk flying away from Iron Man and then cuts to another scene where he lands. I’m not sure these two scenes don’t overlap. But don’t worry. If I estimate the launch angle (I’m going to guess 20°), I can use basic ideas in projectile motion. Let me write the following equation for the horizontal distance traveled.

Yes, you might call this the “range equation”—but be careful. This equation can be quite dangerous. Your best bet is to really understand the basics of projectile motion.

Going back to the Hulk, if I use an angle of 20° and a horizontal distance of 110 meters I get a launch velocity of 40.95 m/s (91 mph).

Punching Force

I have an estimate for Hulk’s mass. I have an estimate for the Hulk’s speed just after the punch. But what about the punch itself?

Since I know both the Hulk’s mass and final (final as in after the punch) velocity, I also know his change in momentum. This means that I can use the Momentum Principle which says:

Technically, there are two forces acting on the Hulk during the punch. There is the force from the punch and then there is the gravitational force. I think it will be ok to just ignore the gravitational force for now (you can go back and add it in as a homework assignment). This means that I just need the time interval that the force is applied to Hulk. It’s difficult to determine exactly when Hulkbuster’s fist made contact and then left contact with the Hulk, but it looks like 3 frames is a good estimate. This would put the contact time at 0.067 seconds (3 frames is clearly longer than the actual contact time).

Now we can calculate the force of the punch. Since the force is in the same direction as the change in momentum, I can deal with these quantities as scalars instead of vectors (just a note for my physics friends).

With a slightly shorter time interval or a slightly higher launch speed, this force could be close to 20,000 Newtons (4500 lbs). That’s a large force, but remember that this is the Hulkbuster armor.”

Wow, 4500lbs; that’s on heck of a punch. There are still a few unanswered questions, but that’s enough ‘nerding’ for one day, go play some games or something. I’ll just leave this here.

Thank you to Wired for providing us with this information.

Batman vs Superman Trailer Leaked!

Well it’s finally starting, leaked trailers of THE superhero film. Yes we have The Avengers which is awesome, but this is just something that will stir inside us. Back in the day, at one time or another; we all thought about “What if Superman fought Batman/ Wolverine/ Ironman/ Thor?” Obviously Superman is pretty much indestructible, so first thought is Batman is going down and hard.

Now this isn’t the first trailer for the new film, we have the official teaser, but this one seems a lot darker and sinister.

Very dark stuff indeed. It has been doing the rounds on Twitter, some mocking how dark it is. At points during the trailer, you can hear the chanting of “Go Home, Go Home!” over and over, something that really resonated with me. It seems like this film is all about a public uproar and how heroes should be banding together, but are instead ripping each other apart.

How do you feel with the new film and how this trailer portrays it? Do you think that the only way to get reactions from the target audience is to turn everything into a dark thriller? Heck even Disney are going down the dark path with some of their newer live action films.

Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments.

Thank you to MoviePilot for providing this information

Netflix Launching in Australia, New Zealand in March 2015

Australians are going ballistic over social media right now – Netflix has just announced via their media center that they will be launching their services in Australia and New Zealand coming March 15. One of my friends posting just recently on their Facebook page the exact (censored) status of: “Holy mother f***g s**t batman!!!! NETFLIX IS COMING TO AUSTRALIA !!”

Self-claimed as the “World’s Leading Internet Television Network to Offer Original Series, Movies, Documentaries, Stand-Up Comedy Specials and TV Shows for Low Monthly Price”, those outside of Australia (and some within) might not realize that most Aussies have been using Netflix already for months – through utilizing VPN software. For those who aren’t aware, in simple terms – a VPN will fool someone into thinking that you reside in a country of choice, in this case Australians will install their VPN and set it to the United States therefore making Netflix servers think they reside in the US and therefore enabling them to use their services.

A major issue that comes with Netflix opening locally is that of pricing. Australians have become used to paying a ‘premium’ for re-released product. If you take a look at gaming prices for example, a ‘standard edition’ of an A+++ publisher release can easily cost us $110 per console game and $100 per PC edition – this is comparative to around $60 US in the States. What does that say for Netflix pricing? Recently Netflix has upped their US price by $1, to $8.99 per month, comparing this to an estimated price of $15+ AU per month (and more for our New Zealand brothers).

One more issue comes in the form of rights ownership. Australian cable company Foxtel own the rights to many publishing companies material, including the popular HBO series – Game of Thrones. It’s unsure if Netflix will be able to work around this issue due to them being US-based and an online service, only time will tell.

Even if Aussies have to pay a premium service price of $15 AU for Netflix’s local offering, it’s still better than the $25 per month (on 12 month contract) offered by Foxtel. I knew there was a reason my parents always wanted to stick with ‘Free-TV’.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Ubisoft Far Cry 4 Dev Claims Resolution Doesn’t Matter

Please allow me to use a popular meme – “Ubisoft pls”. Unfortunately for the large name game creator they seriously can’t catch a break as of recent – but it’s thanks to their own actions and words.

We’ve already reported that some Ubisoft developers think 60FPS “looks weird”, further claiming 30 FPS is more than sufficient for gaming, they’ve also claimed that Microsoft are pushing them to limit PC gaming to 30 FPS to mirror the efforts on consoles due to limitations. They’ve also been reported asking PC users who wish to run their new Assassins Creed game to require a minimum GTX 680 or equivalent. As the famous quote goes – “but wait, there’s more!”.

Hot off the press, Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4 Creative Director Alex Hutchinson has been asked in an interview about the resolution in their latest game release by Total Xbox – his answer includes the quote “it’s certainly not something I care about in a game”, more of his answer reads:

“It feels weird to me that people are cool about playing a sort of retro pixel game, and yet the resolution somehow matters. It’s like: is it fun, is it interesting, is it new, is it fresh, are there interesting questions. With the 4K TVs and things – somebody was telling me that with a 4K TV, to even see it, your living room has to be big enough to sit like 12 feet from the screen. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it starts to get a little crazy. I’m just in it for the experience, I’ll play a SNES game if it’s cool”

We’re not sure if you’ve played games at 480, 720 and 1080p resolution, but there’s certainly a different look in graphical quality and ease of game play when comparing the lower to the higher end of settings. Furthering on Hutchinsons’s SNES comment – a quick Google Search brings up the massive resolution offering of 256 x 224. We invite you to start producing games for this console if you’re that way inclined.

Another worrying factor about the comment above is the seeming lack of knowledge when it comes to the latest technology advancements. You can see Hutchinson’s quote clearly reading that to see a 4K TV “somebody was telling me that with a 4k TV… your living room has to be big enough to sit like 12 feet away from the screen” – does the creative director of one of the worlds biggest gaming companies really have that little of a grasp on how this technology works? We obviously don’t expect them to spend hours every night researching, but he desperately needs to hire himself a coffee-delivering intern to help keep him updated on the latest.

Ubisoft have proven themselves to be rather out of touch with both PC and Console markets as of late – they’ve made some amazing games in the past and here we are seriously hoping they can pull something through to get back to their best.

Do you care about these graphical limitations and lower resolution outputs? Or is this something that you think people are up in arms about just for the sake of being mad? We’re interested to hear your thoughts.

Image courtesy of 8-Bit Chimp

US Government Hire Call of Duty Creator As a War Advisor

America has been looking for the ‘military advantage’ over the last decade or so, ever since the terror threat was brought to their shores though the disastrous 9/11 attacks.

The Atlantic Council think tank has decided to think outside of the box, hiring Dave Anthony – the creator of the famous Call of Duty franchise. Anthony is said to be playing a part of ‘The Art of Future War Project’ run by the aforementioned think tank in an effort to work on the way that the US military conduct their campaigns. Launching next week, this project will see famous authors, screenwriters and entertainment personalities all banding together to share their knowledge and expertise.

Originally announced by former Pentagon official Steven Grundman, the idea was introduced by him witnessing his son play Call of Duty: Black Ops II, claiming that “he was struck how realistic our portrayal in ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’ was of a future conflict.” Grundman, in an interview with the Washington post commented “It occurred to me that the perspective of artists on this question is compelling and insightful, and it’s also different. One feature that struck me was the combination of both familiar technologies and novel ones” continuing to say “I didn’t want to satisfy myself with an approach everyone was doing. It’s a crowded field of ideas”.

A direct statement from the Atlantic Council think tank reads:

“Writers, directors and producers and other artists bring to bear observations derived from wholly different experiences in the creative world. They can ask different kinds of questions that will challenge assumptions and status quo ways of tackling some of today’s toughest national security problems”.

So what will these stars, screen genius’ and game developers actually be working on? That’s classified. But the main question being asked by the public after this release echoes “Is it worth it?”. Many users of online social media outlets have become seemingly outraged since the release of this information, claiming a waste of their tax dollars and the governments time. But as with every negative, there’s also a positive side of views where some are keen to see what this new collection of talent can produce.

Could this be the beginning of game-style technology coming to life? We hope so.

Image courtesy of Gameplanet

Information thanks to RT and Tweaktown

World of Warcraft Implement Robin Williams Tribute

Blizzard has promised and Blizzard has delivered. The tragic passing of the highly popular comedian and actor Robin Williams shocked many throughout the globe, it sparked multiple stories and reports on his life achievements, his advancements and attributes to comedy and also his tough battles with depression.

Willams was said to be a World of Warcraft fanatic, so the studio has paid respects to their fallen comrade. Wowhead has reportedly found a hidden character code of a tribute to Williams, and a few days later an update has seen it come to life. This update can be seen through the Warlord of Draenor expansions BETA, containing an island that houses a special lamp. A quick rub will see a genie appear that directly resembles Williams’ efforts in Aladdin.

It is said that there are a few smaller mementos located within the game, Engadget pointed them out:

“You’ll also find a broken egg with machinery inside (an allusion to Mork and Mindy), and there may be subtler odes to both Mrs. Doubtfire and Toys.”

Don’t have the BETA? You’re going to have to wait until the official release on November the 13th, or take a look at this video.

Image courtesy of Wowhead

21 Year Old Earned $1000 A Day By Hacking League of Legends

Being a professional gamer is the desire of many young players, especially when they hear that the money involved can be serious, with league jackpots easily peaking at $5m USD as is the case with the upcoming LoL championships, but some people are not content on playing fair and square and earning their keep in legitimate ways. The latter way of making money is how a 21-year old hacker known as Shane ‘Jason’ Duffy rapidly built up his bank balance.

Earning $1000 per day, Duffy exploited a security breach that he found on an employee account of Riot Games, where the employee had not updated and changed their password as requested when a breach was originally discovered. This flaw though lead Duffy to a hackers gold mine – access to an estimated 24.5 million user accounts of LoL players around the world. On top of this he also had access to League of Legends: Supremacy, which he leaked out on to the public net shortly after.

Following the leak of Supremacy he was arrested and his equipment seized in conjunction with the illegal activities. Released on bail, Duffy soon went back to his old ways, offering a service to knock other LoL players out of games in exchange for cash along with the selling of character skins, which in itself made him $200-800 a time.

All of this activity led Duffy to have a massive bank balance, with over 880 transactions being accrued in one month, earning him well over $1000 a day. This second round of hacking soon brought him another meeting with the police, with another round of equipment getting seized, along with $110,000 worth of Bitcoins.

All of this illegal activity has come to bite him back as he now awaits sentencing in a Queensland court for nine separate charges of illegal activity, five of those for fraud with the others including a charge of hacking the Riot Games servers.

To put of this into context; if you want to earn a tidy living through online gaming, you’re better off in joining a gaming clan or team – this will bring you both money and fame in a legal way.

Source: Tweaktown

Facebooks Emotion Study Now Linked to the Military

But wait, there’s more!

Recently we wrote about how Facebook users were outraged when they found out that 689,003 users news feeds were altered to display overly positive or negative content.

Since then, more information has surfaced showing that this emotion manipulation study also has possible ties to the military. As read on Mashable, an Army spokesman stated that in 2008 Cornell University sent a funding application to the military for a similar project, but was denied.

Controversy surrounding this 2012 research project pointed to the fact that the military had helped fund this possible unethical study, which Cornell has distanced itself from. The University originally issued a press release on June the 10th which confirmed military funding involvement in the emotion manipulation study from the Army Research Office. However as the military involvement became a common topic of discussion, Cornell chose to remove this acknowledgement.

On the first of July, SCG News reported that one of the studies authors, Jeffery Hancock, had previously received funding from the Department of Defense for other research projects including “Cornell: Modeling Discourse and Social Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes” which included this visualization program that depicts the spread of beliefs and disease.

The simple solution to solving this issue seems to be going straight to the source, but unfortunately when asked most parties declined to comment

“When asked whether Cornell University had ever sought any external funding, and in particular from the Army Research Office, a University spokesman declined to comment. The study’s authors, Hancock and Jamie Guillory, as well as a Facebook spokesperson, did not answer Mashable’s requests for comment either.” Mashable

However, Army Spokesman Wayne Hall has stated that they did not provide any funding to Cornell University and has never asked for them to make amendments to their press release.

With this information in hand, why was the Army credited in the first place? NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen commented on this issue through a public Facebook post:

“Why do I call this strange? Any time my work has been featured in an NYU press release, the PR officers involved show me drafts and coordinate closely with me, for the simple reason that they don’t want to mischaracterize scholarly work. So now we have to believe that Cornell’s Professor of Communication and Information Science, Jeffrey Hancock, wasn’t shown or didn’t read the press release in which he is quoted about the study’s results (weird) or he did read it but somehow failed to notice that it said his study was funded by the Army when it actually wasn’t (weirder).
I think I would notice if my university was falsely telling the world that my research was partially funded by the Pentagon… but, hey, maybe there’s an innocent and boring explanation that I am overlooking.” Facebook

The last few lines of his quote ring the most truth about this whole ordeal.

Image courtesy of SCG news

Australians Gain the Ability to Watch Game of Thrones Through Google

Aussies rejoice! If you’re one of the seemingly few that wish to support your content creators to the fullest, Google is now offering streaming of Game of Thrones through their Google Play service.

Too good to be true? There’s a catch. As the season 4 finale has already aired and Google Play is late to the chase – only releasing the latest episode today. If this will be the same for future seasons or a once off, we don’t know for sure.

The pricing is reasonable however. Standard definition episodes air at $2.99 a piece (or $29.99 for a season), with the High definition option coming in at $3.49 each (and $34.99 per season), meaning this is a rather good alternative to Foxtel users who don’t watch much else.

What makes this Google move more intriguing is Foxtel’s apparent broadcast exclusivity – which I’m sure some users would have not purchased if they were aware of Google’s intentions previously.

All in all this is an interesting move by Google and we’re looking forward to see if the numbers stack up in the future.

To catch your own subscription, head to the Google Play Website.

Image courtesy of Pagesay

George R.R. Martin wants to kill YOU in the Game of Thrones

From what I hear, Game of Thrones is meant to be quite an invigorating series that is the brainchild of George R.R. Martin; personally though I couldn’t tell you a single thing about it at all as I’m not into these sort of programmes. Our resident gaming and TV series addict, Pete, however would be able to tell you tons of information on the subject – but lets brush around that for now.

As the series creator, Martin is certainly well-known around the world (I guess this may have something to do with this series?) and whilst he is regarded to be a cold-hearted writer, there is a softer side to this real-life character – especially when it comes to saving wolves and helping out his local population in Santa Fé.

So how goes a TV series and a persons charitable side come together? To give support to both of Martin’s close to heart charities, he has set up a campaign through Prizeo, where fans of the TV series – and everyone else for that matter – can send in their donations to help out the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary and The Food Depot.

To spur his massive following into giving donations to both of these fantastic non-profit making organisations, backers can donate as little as $10 right up to a whopping $20,000 and based on the level that is donated, a number of rewards are on offer. Now unlike some charitable campaigns you won’t be seeing a cuddly toy or a picture sent out to you each week for the rest of the year; instead you will have to chance to own Martin’s own worn hat or even breakfast with him. Taking the opportunities up to another level, those who donate a little more could get tickets to the premier of Season 5 and a signed cookbook dedicated to the Game of Thrones.

Where the cream of the crop opportunity lies however is to those who donate that jaw dropping amount of $20,000, no you won’t see a hat or breakfast, nor will you get a book. What you will get is the chance to get yourself written into the next novel, “A Song of Ice and Fire”, where your fate will be met and you will die in a typically horrific manner. I hear this happens quite a lot – but hey donating large amounts of money to charity to help out those who are not so fortunate in life is worth dying for if you ask me – even if it is only in words.

Here is Martin’s message to the word:

Hi everyone,

It’s George R.R. Martin, and I’m here to raise money for the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary and The Food Depot of Santa Fé.

If you make a small donation to my campaign, you will automatically be entered to win an incredible experience. You and a friend will be flown out (from wherever you are in the world) to meet me in Santa Fé, where we’ll share a helicopter ride to the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary.

In addition to touring the Sanctuary together, we’ll also have plenty of time to discuss the show, A Song of Ice and Fire, direwolves – and if there’s anything you have ever wanted to ask me, here’s your chance!

Thank you for supporting my campaign. I look forward to meeting one of you!

– George R.R. Martin

Even if you don’t pledge $20k or get the hat, breakfast, tickets or the cookbook, don’t worry as EVERYONE that pledges will be in with a change of winning a trip to Santa Fé, where you can hang out with a group of wolves which take their name from the novels – the Westeros Pack. That in itself is worth the pledge.

Even if you don’t get any of the above goodies, or the trip to see the wolves, what you will be able to take away from this campaign is the reassurance that you are supporting two very good causes and helping out those in need. If this still doesn’t persuade you, hear it from the man himself – George R.R. Martin:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdrxBbrUjZ8[/youtube]

SWAT Team Called in to Tackle Call of Duty Player

There have been a number of times when we have heard about Call of Duty players taking things a bit too personal and getting too frustrated when they get shot or Pwned in-game by another happy camper. There are though some people who take this grudge one step too far and this results in me hearing things that simply make me laugh.

So picture this, you’re happily playing away online against some of your mates (and maybe one or two others that you don’t know) and you end up with the lowest kill-to-death ratio and the lowest kill streak. What do you do? Well I personally would shrug it off and say meh, others who play a little more competitively may shout at the screen in rage and scream down the microphone informing everyone else how pissed they are.

Rafael Castillo from Long Beach however did neither of the above, in fact he was the glorious winner in his game, but his nemesis was boiling in rage over their loss that they proceeded to call in a SWAT team via Skype to take care of the matter. “I just killed my mother and I might shoot more people”; these are the words that Castillo’s raging enemy used and what followed lead to a two-hour stand-off between the authorities and 17-year old Castillo.

Jose, Rafael’s brother told the media, “Some guy threatened to SWAT him, He was pissed that he had lost”. Soon after the call, the Castillo home was surrounded by over 60 law enforcement officers and air support, including members of the Nassau County Special Ops unit.

Thing is though, Castillo’s mum was perfectly safe and well, she was in the kitchen the whole time, which he was playing his game and wearing his headphones.

Jose added: “I thought there was a fire at my house. I ran up and saw my mom running out, I didn’t know what was going on” he continued, “Then one of the police officers said somebody called and said that the mother and brother of somebody in this house was killed. I said ‘how is that possible if she’s right there and I’m right here?”

All the while this was going on, Rafael was totally unaware of the situation, not realising that the shouting and screaming was not just coming from his headset.

Not knowing who made the call, the authorities are looking into who Castillo was playing against in order to track down the vengeful player who made the call in a commonly occurring event called ‘swatting’.

Whilst this safely ended in no-body getting hurt, Rafael’s mother has stated that he will not be allowed to play the game again… ever and this has all come to be a total waste of police and law enforcement resources. It may seem like a funny prank to pull on your enemies, but seriously, some people really do take things one step too far and get too engrossed in their games. It’s a game at the end of the day – you lost – you’ll get over it and you’ll have another chance to win.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Mcv5Z8iuQ[/youtube]

Source and image courtesy of Guru3D

Western Digital’s Cloud Services Still Facing Major Disruption

Since March 26th customers who own any of Western Digital’s Cloud storage based products have been facing crippling connectivity issues after a vulnerability in the service was exposed, resulting in the downtime of connections to and from the WD2Go servers and consequently the loss of connectivity by users to their Cloud storage products that are installed in their homes and offices.

We are nearing two weeks since the service was interrupted and in most case lost completely, after an unknown vulnerability in the way that the service operates was exposed and since then engineers have been frantically working away to discover and repair the problem and restore service to thousands of users world-wide. Unlike Cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive, Western Digital’s Cloud storage products such as the MyCloud, EX2, EX4 and MyBook World Live offer customers the ability to have all of their shared files stored within the confines of the home or office, whilst offering up greater storage capacities and the peace of mind that data is not being accessed or scanned by any third-party applications or sources.

A recent letter from WD President Jim Murphy stated “We understand how important your content is to you, your business and your family. Our customers are the reason we strive each day to make better products and services that enable you to enjoy this content. Your entire digital life must be safely stored and readily accessible, and is what makes the WD personal cloud, personal. While your data has remained safe and accessible in your home or office, the service disruption may have temporarily prevented some of you from remotely accessing that content. We’ve dedicated the past week to restoring your remote access as quickly as possible.”

Whilst this indicates to us that normal service is being restored to customers on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t mention what the vulnerability is and how it was discovered. Mr Murphy’s letter went on to say “All of us at WD are committed to minimizing downtime and ensuring the service information we provide is valuable and frequent. We already have implemented important changes to our infrastructure and network capability. While we have validated the vast majority of your remote connections, we continue our focus on providing uninterrupted access from your phone, tablet or computer. Your content deserves nothing less.”

Unfortunately this information nor any official word from WD through the support pages appears to be easy to find, leaving the support channels inundated with requests from users for help and updates on the loss of connectivity to their systems. Although this looks to be a flaw in the network security at the service data centre, data stored on users devices is not at risk and if you feel concerned you can simply turn off your storage until we have confirmation that the service has been fully restored.

Considering I’ve got one of the latest My Cloud systems – the EX2 – currently in for review, I will be keeping an eye on the service status and will keep you all updated accordingly with news that comes to light. What is certain though is that this loss of connectivity will reflect the sales of and reputation of WD’s Cloud systems so they are working against the clock to restore the service and protect themselves from a financial hit.

Source: Press Release

iPhone 5s Users Experiencing BSODs

The iPhone 5s and iOS7 has not been out for long but users are already getting a bit disgruntled with its stability when using certain apps. Over on the Apple Forums, a number of people are reporting that their phones are showing a blue screen followed by the Apple logo indicating that the phone has crashed and is rebooting.

One user commented on the forums saying “If I open a document in Numbers, then press the power button, the phone seems to power itself off almost instantly instead of just going to sleep” This is not the only app to be affected however, with more and more user reporting the same problems, it appears that Numbers, Pages, Keynotes, Facetime, Safari, Camera plus more are affected.

Another 5s user followed the complaints on the Apple forums saying: “I am having the same problem myself when using the pages app to open my saved resume and then trying to email it to someone. If I do that then go to open the notes app that I have a typed message I want to copy and paste in the same email, as soon as I paste it in the email the screen goes blue and restarts.”

One user has even posted a video on YouTube of the blue screen situation as they work in the Numbers app as seen below.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/EDcpXEyHAV0[/youtube]

iOS7 and its update that was released only days after the official launch has not really done Apple a many favours with their users love of Apple products. With issues related to poor battery live, iMessages not sending, security glitches and now this, it’s no wonder that people are slowly starting to look at alternative smartphone options.

Have you got a 5s with these problems or have you been experiencing any other difficulties since upgrading? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: pcmag.com

Image courtesy of Trusted Reviews

UK Gaming Computers Flagship ‘Minos’ Mini PC System Review

Introduction


In the UK there are a growing number of system integrators to chose from when buying a new PC and with such a competitive market, it is not the easiest of tasks to decide who to buy your new system from. Whilst many people do opt to go for the bigger, more well known names such as PC Specialist, Overclockers UK and Scan, there are a whole host of smaller companies out there who strive to offer high quality systems and customer service alike.

For many people, including myself UK Gaming Computers are a company that until now I’ve never heard of. Formed in 2009, the Essex based integrator that have been building custom systems like no other in their thousands, offering unique paint jobs, modifications and even bespoke system builds on a per-client basis. As well as building systems, UKGC also offer an extended line of services which include laser panel cutting, airbrushing and even wrapping your system in caron fibre.

The companies main focus is on quality over quantity and this is how they have managed to build up a rapport for some of the best individual systems in the UK market. Up to this point UK Gaming Computers have never had one of their systems reviewed, so I will say that I am a little privileged to be the first person to take a proper look at one of their systems and give my thoughts back on it. The system that has been sent across to me is UKGC’s latest creation and also their new flagship mini-PC and goes my the name “Minos” – meaning the ‘Son on Zeus. As well as being a flagship system, the case has also been covered in a new prototype paint finish, which adds another style to the extensive selection of finishes that are already on offer.

The Minos starts from £1,629.99 inc VAT and can be purchased here, however the system that we have has had a couple of additions made to it and as a result is a little more expensive.

  • Name: Minos
  • Case: Fractal Design Node 304
  • MB: Gigabyte Z87N-WIFI
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 4770k @ 4.4GHz
  • RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz (2x8GB)
  • SSD: 120GB Corsair Force LS
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX Titan 6GB
  • Cooler: Corsair H80i
  • PSU: Corsair TX650 V2
  • Paint: ‘Crystal Ice’ in Toxic Green
  • OS: Optional Windows 7 or 8
  • Warranty: 3 Years complete / Life-time technical support
  • Price: £1,810.59 inc VAT + Delivery (£16 + VAT)

There is no prizes for guessing what chassis the system comes in and don’t worry, the system was packed inside another protective film along with the clear warning that the system likes to be handled with care.

Opening the box up, I am a little surprised to see a ton of packing peanuts included on top of the standard protective foam that the chassis is otherwise shipped in (Note at this point I’ve not been made aware of the paint). This goes to show that UKGC take pride in their work and wish to protect it in the best way possible for transit between themselves and you the customer.

In a separate packet came all the user manuals for the key parts of the system, along with the motherboards WiFi antenna and mains power cable.

Asus Unveil Their Z87 Lineup – Including Never Seen Before Models

With Haswell on a close horizon and Intel still holding the fort under close guard with regards to their 4th Generation chips, we’ve been seeing the lid slowly lift from each of the motherboard vendors on what their new boards will have to offer. Asus is next in line to show off some of their new boards from their Series , TUF (The Ultimate Force) and ROG (Republic of Gamers) lines and at each level they are offering up the best they can in terms of performance, user experiences, stability and upgrade paths.

Jackie Hsu, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Worldwide Sales commented “ASUS possesses the best research and development expertise, and as always we are confident that we offer our customers the finest quality with these new motherboards. We’re including a variety of media-praised exclusive features with each model, and are proud to announce that we have the most comprehensive Z87 motherboard launch line-up, all available simultaneously”

On the bottom end of Asus’ new line-up is a completely re-branded set of Series boards. The most notable part of this re-brand is the drop of the blue and black colour scheme that we have come to know with Asus entry level boards – the new colour scheme is based around a two tone yellow/gold, but thankfully this is not a shiny gold which would be rather displeasing to the eye. Whilst there are a number of boards in the Series range, looking at both ends of the range, Asus have covered all the grounds when it comes to compatibility – something which we have seen previously on their Z77 boards of a similar level. Between this board is a number of models that make a transition from a board for more mainstream builds, offering all the Z87 features. These include the Z87-C, Z87-PRO, Z87-PLUS and the Z87I-Delux (a mini ITX offering).

Top top end of the Series range see native PCI fully replaced with PCIe amongst other subtle changes. All the new series boards will see the integration of Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-way optimisation, DIGI+ Power Control, Fan Xpert 2 amongst other now offerings from Intel.

Moving up one stage and on to the TUF line of boards, this line only see some subtle changes with a full ATX board that in some respects looks very similar to the previous generation Z77 board. This is all because of the thermal armour that is laid across the PCB to keep the board as cool as possible and keep dust away from all empty slots with a series of Dust Defender plugs that fill empty ports. On the back of the PCB we see a new Fortifier metal plate that reinforces the PCB to prevent it warping whist in use and an airflow boosting valve design around the CPU power areas.

Making a fresh appearance to the TUF line-up is one of Asus’ many new boards. The Gryphon is a mATX version of the Sabertooth and like its bigger brother, it features all the same top quality components and features as well as the extended expected lifetime from its higher temperature tolerance. What is missing though is the thermal armour, however Asus will be supplying this separately and the two piece kit can be quickly mounted to the Gryphon’s PCB.

Top top of the new Z87 range is Asus’ top end ROG boards. These boards for a number of generations now have been renowned for their top end performance and overclocking abilities. New to the ROG line of boards and sitting mi-range is the HERO. This new board’s purpose is to offer mainstream the gamers the stepping stone into the ROG brand, but at a price point that is far more manageable compared to the flagship Maximus IV Extreme. As well as these two boards, Asus will also be launching an updated Maximus IV Gene and all these boards will feature Supreme FX audio as well as a new on-screen ‘Sonic-Radar’ that works as a viual overlay to any game to indicate the direction a proximity of a gun fire for example in a visual format.

The flagship Extreme board see a new overclocking tool, that unlike the previous generations OC-key is set to be far more user friendly and intuitive to use and alongside this in the Extreme box, users with find a 5.25″ drive bay adaptor to allow the OC Panel to operate as a fan control panel from the front of a case.

Free To Play, In The Wrong?

Many games these days offer a wide range of things to buy over the internet, be it a quirky little add-on or even a mini expansion (EA’s Mass Effect Series for example). Recently the number of ‘Free To Play’ games has dramatically increased with games such as Star Wars, RIFT and many others offering a much better ‘Free To Play’ option to consumers, which allow you some, if not all aspects of the game for you to play without spending anymore than you did in getting the actual game, which was free of course.

This being said, it seems that the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) has written to companies offering free web or app-based games, seeking information on in-game marketing to children. This is merely the first step in an ongoing investigation that could prove to be a waste or time, but it could also change the way Free To Play games are made, marketed and sold in general.

Personally, I think this whole thing revolves around a few kids getting a bit ‘over the top’ with their daddy’s credit card and parents are screaming ‘foul play’. If you are stupid enough to leave your card details within “point, click and bought” distance of your child you kind of deserve to be screwed out of money.

However, one might question if this would put games such as League of Legends, which is famous for its Micro-transaction deals, into the crosshairs as they too say they are “Free To Play”.

Source: CVG