When it comes to online games, you have to be careful when you play because some will find ways to cheat and increase the odds in their favour through less than legitimate reasons. When this happens on consoles and even more so on PC’s you are often found out by one of the many anti-cheat systems that are in place, but sometimes they don’t work 100% and will do bad things to good players, such as those currently playing Dark Souls III.
Dark Souls III is having the problem where players are experiencing a soft ban without any reason provided. The problems got so big that J Kartje, the community manager for Dark Souls III tweeted that they were “gathering all the information”.
A soft ban is much like its name, is lighter than a normal ban, letting players keep using the online component of Dark Souls III but only with other players who have been soft banned, including those that have actually cheated. How do you tell a legitimate ban from one that seems to be due to corrupted save data or a bad network connection with a wonky anti-cheat system? It would seem for now you can’t but with the problem being investigated there is hope for those of you who wish to enjoy and feel like you are being punished for bad coding.
We’ve all seen those huge URL’s, be it for a website or a document you have saved in the cloud, they just seem to go on and on with no sign of ever stopping. Then you spot the tiny URL they offer you instead, short and sweet with only a few letters and numbers to copy and paste before you can open your document anywhere you want. Why not use it? well for starters that small URL may be creating just as easy a path to spy on your data!
Research conducted by Martin Georgiev and Vitaly Shmatikov suggest that looking at the abbreviated “short URL’s” used by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and even bit.ly, a company dedicated to creating and sharing short URL addresses, revealed that using a simple trial and error method they were able to gain access to your cloud storage files.
In particular, Georgiev and Shmatikov were able to find and access files shared through Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive with short URLs. If this wasn’t scary enough, someone could place malicious code in the files that had write permissions enabled, allowing them to infect and spread their effect all through one of your files stored in the cloud. Estimating that around 7 percent of the accounts on OneDrive and Google Drive they scanned were vulnerable to this flaw, it’s scary, to say the least.
More worrying may be companies differing responses to be being alerted about this result, with Google doubling the character length of their short URLs, while Microsoft stated that the vulnerability “does not currently warrant an MRSC case”, while quietly removing the short link function on OneDrive so not to expose others to the problem while they no doubt investigate.
Announcing a partnership with the international drone racing association (IDRA) on Wednesday, ESPN is looking to stream drone races online starting off in August with the US National Drone Racing Championship in New York. Streamed via ESPN3 live, the footage will then be edited to a one-hour special to be streamed on one of ESPNS’s TV channels.
Unlike with other sports, drone racing can be viewed from two perspectives, both the view following the drone and the view that its pilot gets to see, provided via a first person camera mounted on the front. With ESPN also carrying the 2016 World Drone Racing Champion in Hawaii in October, ESPN accredited this uptake to the “unprecedented rise in popularity” of the event, even saying it may go alongside NASCAR and Formula 1 as the “next behemoth racing sport”.
With drone racing having its first champion courtesy of the Drone Prix that was hosted in Dubai earlier this year, drone racing contests are appearing all around the world as people look to race their drones and show off their skills as the next generation of racers!
The visually stunning Korean MMO that is Black Desert Online just keeps on getting better and better. Aside from the fact that it already has one of the most in-depth and visual impressive character creation systems we’ve ever seen, as well as a rich world and booming in-game economy, the developers have now released the first of many expansions for the BDO universe.
The free “Mediah” update clocks in at a modest 2GB, and while that doesn’t sound like a lot, it adds more than a thousand new quests to the world! And if that wasn’t enough, you’ll find massive boss fights, such as the one against Kzarka, with hundreds of players capable of joining that single fight alone. There’s a new 40v40 PvP instance on Crimson Battlefield, and if that wasn’t enough, which it is, you’ll also find new weapons, armour, enchanted equipment and more for higher level players.
+ World size increased by 30%
+ Over 1,000 new quests
+ Kzarka – An enormous boss that can take on hundreds of players at a time
+ New guild missions, including special bosses that drop formidable weapons
+ Crimson Battlefield – Instanced 40v40 skirmishes that players can queue for in groups of five or solo
+ New weapons and more powerful armor set
+ Craftable Alchemy Stones allow players to apply Attack, Defense, or Life bonuses to their equipment
The games developers, Pearl Abyss, aren’t stopping here either, teasing that new expansions will be coming thick and fast. Keep an eye on the horizon for ocean-based adventuring, allowing exploration above and below the waves, trading ships and even naval warfare. In short, Black Desert Online is already one of the most interesting MMOs out there and it just keeps on getting better in more ways than one.
“Daum Games today announced that Black Desert Online will be expanded with the huge Mediah region, tons of new quests, fierce bosses, and more as early as tomorrow, March 30. With the Mediah Expansion, players can rise to new levels of power and achieve greatness like never before.” – BDO
Recently the popular streaming service Netflix admitted that when it comes to mobile phones accessing their system, they reduced the video quality on most mobile networks to help avoid excessive data usage. This caused an uproar given Netflix’s stance on the topic was to support the concept of Net Neutrality (the idea being that all traffic on the internet is equal and, therefore, shouldn’t be prioritized or capped based on its content). It nows seems that the FCC have stated where they stand on the matter.
The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler stated that the Federal Communications Commission had no intention of investigating the service for throttling its own streams. Critics of Netflix agree with the idea that the FCC’s ruling on net neutrality applies to internet service providers, those that provide the entirety of the internet to you rather than just a service within the internet. Even with this agreement, they want the company investigated, with Wheeler clarifying that they “do not regulate edge providers”. An edge provider in this case is what the FCC title online content providers, the ones that actually use the internet to provide a service rather than provide access to the internet itself.
This comes at a time when the FCC are openly investigating mobile providers for their internet usage systems, with companies like TalkTalk offering their Binge service, a service which allows you to stream unlimited amounts of content from select providers that have partnered up with TalkTalk.
Where do you stand? Should companies be allowed to reduce quality to ensure you get a smooth service without additional costs? Should they be allowed you provide you with “unlimited content” from select providers?
We’ve all seen the competitions you can enter online, ranging from entering a competition on a forum to having to create and upload a piece of work. A common type of online contest is where you upload pictures, but be warned, some people may own patents to the entire concept of online contests.
Ruth Taylor is a Pennsylvania-based photographer who often runs photo contests on her website, BytePhoto. Along comes Garfum.com, a video website owned by New Jersey’s Michael Garofalo, who claimed that the competitions run on the site infringe on US Patent No. 8,209,618. The patent refers to the ability to create user accounts, upload content, organise the content and have users vote on the content, all rather vague terms given the digital age.
Initially requesting $50,000 in the lawsuit, Garofalo’s lawyers reduced this to $5,000 and then $2,500 later on. In an attempt to defend herself Taylor got in touch with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that deals with electronic rights, who took up the case pro-bono. Filing a motion to dismiss the case the EFF claimed that it should be thrown out of court under the Alice Corp precedent, a precedent that claims just because something is done via software the patent needs to cover something more than an abstract idea.
Garfum dropped the case before it went to court, however, the EFF didn’t end it there, filing a motion to seek attorneys’ fees for the case. EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer stated, “the idea that you could patent an abstract idea, find innocent enthusiasts online and demand settlement money—and then slink away once challenged and before the court issues a ruling—goes against any sense of fair play”.
The total cost to cover the fees would come close to $30,000, with even more added because of the latest motion. Something that could soon become a reality sooner than expected with US Chief District Judge Jerome Simandle stating in an opinion that due to their “unreasonable” behaviour during the case, Garfum should end up paying the fees.
Remember that crazy TayTweets AI that Microsoft unleashed on the (mostly) innocent users of Twitter recently? The one that quickly pick up the bad habits of many online pranksters, turning it into a genocide-denying Nazi lover? Yes, that one. Twitter users be warned, it’s back!
Microsoft pulled the AI after it descended into madness last week, taking the time to re-tool their learning experiment and trying again. Unfortunately, it’s not really worked this time either, as in true-to-form style it wasn’t long before it because a drug smoking police hater.
While Microsoft were previously tweaking the timeline to remove the most offensive posts, while also vowing to only bring the AI back if they could “better anticipate malicious intent that conflicts with our principles and values.” It’s clear that there’s still a lot of work to be done. Of course, that’s the whole point of these experiments, and I’m sure they’re not out of ideas yet.
Drug smoking references aside, @TayTweets seemed to then descend into a total meltdown, spamming everyone with the same message over and over. The end result being Microsoft setting the profile to private, effectively taking her offline again.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what happens next, more entertaining madness, or a successful AI test, either would be worth watching unfold.
When it comes to crime, the digital world is the new battlefront for government agencies and the police but one police officer doesn’t think that victims of online fraud should be “rewarded”.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe is the Metropolitan police commissioner and made some comments regarding victims of online fraud, in particular, those who lose money as a result of the crime. Speaking the UK newspaper outlet, The Times, he commented saying that people should be more responsible for updating their anti-virus and improving their passwords. With Which?’s executive director, Richard Lloyd, stating that when the group investigated last year they “found too often that banks were dragging their feet when dealing with fraud. The priority should be for banks to better protect their customers, rather than trying to shift blame to the victims of fraud”.
A particular comment Hogan-Howe made was that “if you are continually rewarded for bad behaviour you will probably continue to do it but if the obverse is true you might consider changing your behaviour”. He goes on to suggest that if you hadn’t updated your software recently they could offer you back only half of what was taken.
The Met have clarified that the comments shouldn’t be read as a proposal for victims of fraud to not receive full compensation but that customers need to ensure that basic protection is carried out, with anti-virus software and passwords checked and updated on a regular basis.
The internet can be a wonderful thing and lets you view everything from your favourite show several days early to downloading the latest games on their day of release. The problem being though is that not all content on the internet should be there, with several groups using it to advertise less than legal practices. In a recent vote, the Senate has held an Ad company in contempt of congress for failing to provide details when asked for them.
The vote (96-0) finds Backpage, a classified ads company, in contempt of congress. Previously Homelands Security Permanent Subcommittee requested documentation on how it screens the ads the company was being asked to provide. The company in return shared general documentation, avoiding the specifics that the subcommittee wanted.
The company is currently being investigated after allegations that it allows ads advertising illegal practices through, even going to far as to edit the ads and using keywords that would help avoid the ad being flagged up for its content.
Backpage has apparently been waiting for the issue to go to congress, saying that their adverts are posted under the first amendment that protects free speech and that the law itself protects companies that post third-party content (that is content provided by someone else). It should also be noted that this is the first time the Senate has issued a contempt of congress charge since 1995, so it’s not an everyday action by any standard.
We’ve all seen that wonderful thing you are interested in online. From the holiday sales offering you everything from the perfect night out dress to that new makeup, the worst part of any online purchase is when you open it and find that it doesn’t quite look like you thought it would; Cake AR is looking to change just that.
They’ve already released the tool on their lipstick and eye shadow pages and don’t worry no downloads involved. The tool forgoes uploading an image like conventional try before you buy systems and uses your webcam to map the new you in real time (with a bit of lag for good measure). If you move slowly the product’s changes will even follow you around, meaning that you can see the new lipstick and eyeshadows from different angles without having to send it back because it was a “bad purchase”.
With tools like this coming out more and more regularly, it may be sooner rather than later that you can buy clothes and accessories online without worrying about the money you could have wasted. With the ability to design your own cars, build your own house tools and now viewing your makeup before you buy don’t you just love online shopping.
Why is this a big deal you may ask? The problem people will have with this is that the game is a single player game, requiring an online connection means that should your internet drop out or you want to play on the go you won’t be able to. The reason given by Microsoft is that you will require a high-speed internet connection to enjoy the cutscenes in the game, which is considered story heavy.
It was recently revealed that the Xbox One version of the game will be 44.09GB in size, a whole 8GB more than the 36.18GB. It now seems that the size difference is because Xbox one will be downloading the video content as well, requiring only PC gamers to have a constant online connection. With the Xbox One video being limited to 1080p video files, a mere shade of the 4K content the PC will enjoy, some people will argue that for a single player game, downloading the video at a lesser quality may be worth saving the hassle of an always online connection.
First a bad release for Gears Of War and now the news that always online single player games are Microsoft’s hope for Windows 10 games, are you likely to pick up the game and if so do you think that Microsoft has done the right thing?
Metal Gear Solid V is one of the biggest and best games in the series, sure the story is still as whacky as ever, but the action on offer is some of the finest we’ve seen from Konami in a long time. To keep the action going, the FOB mode of the game in continuing to develop and Konami has now released three new items that players will be able to develop online within the game.
Revealed on the game’s official website, the three new items are the D.Mine Marker and Cam Marking DVC, the non-lethal semi-automatic sniper rifle AM MRS-73 NL, the UA-Drone (Sleep), a general purpose UAV that can be used under the non-lethal security settings.
The good thing about these items is that they’re all under the online development settings, so when you start to develop them, they’ll continue to do so even when you’re not playing the game.
Higher-grade versions of the marking devices for configuring your own unique layout of cameras and landmines. Develop these to be able to place more of each around your bases!
D.MINE MARKER[★8] CAM MARKING DVC.[★8]
In addition, the Cloaked in Silence expansion for Metal Gear Online 3 will be hitting the Japanese market on March 15th, but unfortunately, there is no official word on when we can expect to see it in America or the EU, but fingers crossed that it will launch on or around the same time.
AM MRS-73 NL[★8]
A Grade 8 non-lethal semi-automatic sniper rifle. Specify non-lethal, long-range weaponry in your FOB Security Settings to equip this to your guards and add some extra kick to your base defenses.
A general-purpose UAV for use under the non-lethal security setting. Its onboard grenade launcher fires rounds loaded with sleep gas, to give any intruders an unexpected nap.
The new updates will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, as well as PC, so don’t worry, none of you will be missing out on the action.
Tor is an open network that looks to fight against tracking analysis, just one way of monitoring and identifying people online. Using systems like Tor you are able to hide your identity online, a feature that some governments seem less than keen on letting happen due to the risks that people may use it for less than noble intentions. CMU previously responded saying, well not much at all to be honest, regarding the rumours it would now appear a judge has revealed it all; sorry FBI, looks like it wasn’t you.
It has now been revealed that it was in fact the Department of Defence (DOD) that funded the project. The information comes out as part of a court case against Brian Farrell, one of Silk Road 2.0’s administrators. Once again online privacy is being raised, with the argument that if you are looking to hide your activity you are attempting to create a sense of privacy, something which online tracking would then breach.
With technology and the law going head to head in the court on a daily basis, will the laws and governments of the world ever be in step with the ways that we work every day or will we always be hearing about the constant game of catch up that the law seems to follow currently?
We all have our favourite way of playing online, and those that use Xbox Live may have a bit of trouble this morning when it comes to enjoying that quick game before work or school. Currently, the service is more struggling than it is managing as several parts of the service are listed as having difficulty.
The affected services include people’s ability to buying downloadable items and downloading any previously brought items. This means that if you are looking at downloading a game or treating yourself to a DLC, now might not be the best time. If you are one of the people who likes to stream some music or videos the Xbox Video and Music stores are also currently experiencing problems, joined by Blinkbox also having issues. Finally, the only other area affected at the moment is account management, with people unable to create
Finally, the only other area affected at the moment is account management, with people unable to create accounts, managing any of their previous accounts or even removing accounts from devices.
Are you unable to purchase/download items from the marketplace? The right teams are on the case! Check: https://t.co/99xfLMWcZW for info!
The only areas that don’t seem affected are the Xbox One’s website and their matchmaking, so if you wanted to just play a game you should be okay, but beyond that you may experience some trouble. You can find out the latest on Xbox live’s status page located here.
With the ongoing efforts to prevent ‘radicalization’ and the prevention of those who would join terrorist elements for travelling abroad to join them, this sounds like a good idea to let kids be aware of the risks from extremists before it is too late. Covering many topics from the basics of what violent extremism is and how they make contact to being aware of their propaganda, use of symbols and ‘groupthink’.
Now, this may seem like a great font of knowledge for the young, however, there is a dark stain on this site, namely the free browser-based game “The Slippery Slope to Violent Extremism.” The game looks like a bad mix of classic colourful blocky games and 3D graphics, seeing the player direct a running goat with the left and right arrow keys to avoid green and grey blocks, supposedly meant to represent extremists. Hitting a block results in the goat exploding into countless small blocks, which is not very hard due to the incredibly imprecise controls in the game. Clearing of each level ‘rewards’ you with distorted logic text, using phrases such as “Our group is under attack;” “Our violent acts will result in a better future;” and “The enemy is responsible for this injustice.” All very bland stock phrases that could be taken from anywhere.
The FBI claims the site is not intended to refute every single thing done or said by violent extremists, instead aiming to teach children how to apply their critical thinking skills in the face of extremism, or in their words: “We’re saying, ‘Don’t be a puppet,’—in other words, don’t just blindly accept what violent extremists tell you or you could end up being controlled and manipulated by people who want you to hurt or kill innocent people.” The site was to have originally gone live in November last year but was sent for reworking after a preview group felt it focused too much on Islamic extremists.
Malware, or malicious software, includes everything from your pop-up ads to opening doors for full-scale hacks to companies. Taking a trip the malware museum shows you how software like Dridex can not only threaten banking systems but also your everyday smartphone. The latest malware on the Net is called MazarBOT and has a unique feature, it won’t install itself if you are in Russia.
MazarBOT has been seen advertised on certain forums for a few months now but was never actually seen in use, until now. MazarBOT is a nasty piece of software that takes control of your android phone, with a specific focus on people who use their phone for online banking. Peter Kurse, IT security expert and founder of CSIS Security Group, did a deep investigation into the problem discovering more about this malware.
By sending a “swarm” of SMS’s to random phone numbers to Denmark, the software has started to spread by sending a message with a link to the android package file, the contents of which are none other than MazarBOT. Able to intercept text messages, including those with two-factor authentication codes, MazarBOT is a nasty piece of work, sending your phone’s location to a number (starting with Iran’s country code) upon successful installation.
Upon detecting that the phone is in Russia though the malware will stop installing, this is initially thought to be in order to avoid drawing the wrath from Russia’s security services.
2015 was a long and fruitful year for game developers. Some well known, major franchises have made comebacks on the market, like a new Mortal Kombat title or Rise of the Tomb Raider. Others have been announced – the upcoming Doom reboot is maybe the most interesting of them all. But great things have happened in less known gaming industry – that of real money online games. Microgaming, one of the leading developers of the industry, has launched several new slot games on the Royal Vegas Casino Canada during the year. And here are the best ones of the best.
#5 – Big Chef
Perhaps I’m driven by nostalgia toward this game, as it reminds me of the time I spent learning to cook at a five-star hotel’s kitchen. Big Chef is a great game, with some mouthwatering foods on its reels, and some equally mouthwatering wins in store for Royal Vegas players. Its visuals, sounds and features make it one of the best video slots to be released this year.
#4 – Hot as Hades
I like this game especially because of its visuals – as well as the friendly Hades smiling from the reels. He is an overall cool guy in his hot land, surrounded by pools of lava, playing with his three-headed puppy (Cerberus) and generally having as much fun as possible. Hot as Hades is a great game from a Royal Vegas slots player’s point of view, too – it has some great features and lots of wins in store for them.
#3 – Bridesmaids
I have to admit I didn’t see the movie (I don’t like romantic comedies), but the game I’ve fallen in love with instantly when I first tried it at the Royal Vegas casino. It is well built and full of features, exactly the way a slot machine should be in 2015. If only it wasn’t so pink… It almost convinced me to see the movie – but I left it at another time.
#2 – Titans of the Sun
This twin slot machine release shows that there’s more to the developer than just gaming. The two games were released simultaneously at Royal Vegas, starring two of the 12 Titan descendants of Mother Earth and Father Sky. The two have been the parents of Helios (the Sun), Eos (the Dawn) and Selene (the Moon) in the Greek mythology. The games based on their image are both beautiful and fun to play, with lots of winning opportunities to them.
#1 – Serenity
A game with beautiful graphics and a soothing background music, bringing moments of peace and serenity to the madness of the world – this is what Serenity, one of Microgaming’s latest video slots, is all about. No wonder if it made it to the top of my list – it has beautiful visuals, nice sounds and enough wins to make it worthy of your time.
No matter how much you make in a month, there is always room for more. But sometimes making more is not an option, and your only choice is to save. Luckily, we have the internet, which is filled with quality services and products that we can buy for less. Here are 10 tips on how you can save on services over the internet.
Free cloud backup
Most cloud services offer you a free plan, with a variable storage size. When it comes to space, Microsoft’s OneDrive is your best option, which offers you 15GB of space completely free of charge. You can use it as you please, and it even comes with a basic version of Microsoft’s office suite that you can use to create and edit documents. To back up your files automatically, you can install the OneDrive app, and sync your files automatically with the cloud storage – completely free.
If you own a Windows Phone powered smartphone, and choose to back up your pictures to OneDrive, Microsoft will add another 15GB of space to your free plan.
Free premium gaming
If you are a gambler you can save money here by registering a free account at one of the real money gaming outlets listed. You can access their complete game library completely free of charge – but, of course, your winnings will only be virtual.
Planning to launch a blog, but you don’t have the cash? Head over to Freenom, the only domain registrar that offers free ccTLDs (country code top level domain names) on the internet. You can choose from several options, like .tk, .ml, .ga and several others.
You can use your nameservers to operate the domains with your existing web hosting service.
Speaking of hosting – there are still quite a few companies that offer free hosting plans to their users. You can choose to host your own domain (like the one from Freenom). The free hosting plans usually come with 1 addon domain, 1 MySQL database, 1GB of space, and other goodies like cPanel, Fantastico, and so on.
Free SSL certificates
Let’s Encrypt is a US based nonprofit that has set its goal to bring encryption to all website owners. Its services offers everyone the possibility to use their SSL/TLS certificates completely free of charge. While not all web hosting services support Let’s Encrypt, their numbers are growing day after day. One day the service might become available at free hosting service providers, allowing bloggers and web designers to offer their readers a more secure way to connect to them.
I’m sure many of you have been to a museum at one point or another but did you know there was also a museum for Malware? That’s right, there’s a huge online collection of things that want to ruin your computer, and no, I’m not just talking about that “download more RAM” banner. Don’t worry, though, as this museum isn’t going to leave you with a wildly virus infected computer, it’s actually run by Archive.org and is more an art exhibition that a pit of doom that will wipe your hard drives.
Most people have heard of malware, most of you have likely suffered at the hand of it too, but there’s also a little artistic beauty to many of these bits of malicious software of days gone by. The exhibition was put together by online security expert Mikko Hypponen, and offers a visual collection of old-school viruses and the often creative visual effects, ascii art and more that they use to use to effectively troll their victims. It’s certainly a colourful display too, and you can see them in action in all their glory.
There are some pretty cool animations in there too, it’s not just blocks of text or pop ups like you would expect from modern spam-centric viruses. If anything, I’d say the hackers of the past were far more creative and more often than not were just out to demonstrate their skills and cause destruction, rather than be financially motivated; not that this makes what they did any better for the user of course.
So what are you waiting for? Take a trip back to the days of MS-DOS and floppy discs, screen saver viruses and more and who knows, maybe you’ll learn a bit of computer history while you’re at it.
Malicious online activity in the form of hacks, malware and viruses have seen an exponential increase over the past 5 years, the rise in the number of consumers online coupled with a lax understanding concerning the dangers of the many cyber threats has led to more and more victims. Malvertising is one such example of how online advertisements could be hijacked and used to spread Malware through Malicious ads.
This technique has now found a new victim after online gossip site TMZ was found to be harbouring malicious online advertisements. For those who are unfamiliar with the site, TMZ is a hugely popular website that features expose, gossip and general breaking news concerning the world of celeb, the site pulls in over 30 million visitors a month and is a major attraction for online revenue, below is a summary of the attack.
It has been observed that the attack has the same ad chain pattern; this is from “ContextWeb (PulsePoint) to Smarty Ads and eventually various rogue advertisers”. The latter is leveraging CloudFlare’s infrastructure with the aim of hiding the servers location as well as encrypting the advertisement delivery to consumers via the website.
The malicious ad is pretty cheap to deliver when you consider it costs “$0.19 (£0.12) for one thousand user impressions (CPM)”
These attacks are designed to be as cheap as possible with the aim of targeting high impact traffic targets, on a side note, many websites try to discourage users from using popular ad blockers when accessing their sites, perhaps malicious advertisements leading to exploit kits is not the best deterrent.
Online casinos have come a long way in their 20-year history, and in 2016 the experience of playing at the leading sites is more immersive, exciting, and varied than ever before.
Two decades of development and innovation followed the online casino phenomenon’s tentative first steps back in 1996, when the first real money wager was played at a site with 18 casino games in total.
Two decades later, thousands of online casino destinations have since launched, and millions of players around the world have turned the online casino sector into one that claims a significant chunk of global gambling market revenues every year.
This success has been built on constant innovation and the careful shaping of a gambling experience that might once have attempted to emulate the atmosphere and excitement of land based casinos, but now offers players advantages and benefits that have earned online casinos an audience all of their own.
For over a decade, online casinos lacked an edge that players could only find by going into a land based casino – the interaction with live dealers and hosts.
While broadband technology was still being developed and improved, there simply wasn’t the bandwidth to support live dealers, and top destinations were still developing an audience big enough and profitable enough to make it worth their while to invest in the resources required to offer live dealers.
Now, players have come to expect live casino experiences online as a standard option, and live rooms are amongst the most popular at casino destinations everywhere.
Flexible payment options
One of the main hurdles online casinos had to overcome in order to achieve the staggering levels of engagement from players all over the globe was that of payment security and flexibility.
In the early days of online gambling, players were reluctant to deposit at sites where it was difficult to know exactly where the transaction was being handled, and whether the site was genuine and reputable.
Since then, payment security has improved dramatically and the option to use various online payment handlers, such as WorldPay have put the power back in the hands of the players. Sites like Vegas Casino also offer players the option to make payments at the click of a button using the online currency BitCoin.
It is rare that cases of unscrupulous behaviour by online casino sites are heard of, and when they are, the community of online gamblers quickly outs the culprits and ensures they are held to account.
Casinos that never close
One of the biggest developments to shape the fate of online casinos in their short history was the arrival of slick mobile gaming software.
It isn’t so long ago that online casino operators were pondering the conundrum of how to translate their engaging, classic games onto a mobile format. But now sites cater for users of iPhone, Android, Blackberry.
The option to log on and play casino games from anywhere has been nothing short of revolutionary, and it is now every bit as common to see players on their morning commute to work playing a bit of mobile roulette as it is to see folks reading the paper on the tube.
Elder Scrolls Online is a great MMORPG, mixing together many of the iconic landscapes and the rich lore that we’ve come to know and from the many entries in the Elder Scrolls gaming series, but with the ability to share your experiences and battles with hundreds of gamers at once, take on raid bosses and so much more. The only issue with MMORPG’s is that the games can often slow down quite a lot when there’s a huge amount of on-screen action, and while Elder Scrolls Online does a great job of keeping the pace going quite well, even this game suffers from slowdown when there’s a lot of players and enemies on-screen.
There’s no doubt that it’s already one of the best looking MMORPG’s out there, so the fact it keeps up the pace as well as it does it pretty darn impressive. However, the developers at Zenimax Online Studios know it can be even better, which is why they’re now working on upgrading the game’s engine to DirectX 12. during their recent live stream, they revealed that there’s no ETA for this update, but that they are working on it, and with DX12 being able to handle a greatly increased number of draw calls, we can no doubt expect big performance boosts in the future.
“Yes, we are planning on a DX12 upgrade and expect that this will give us a number of graphics performance improvements. We cannot provide an ETA at this time, but it is something we’re working towards.”
They’re also working on improving fog/limited draw distance issues but revealed that it’s not as high a priority as the DX12 improvements. Console gamers aren’t going to lose out either, as they said they’ll be working with the recently unlocked core on the PlayStation 4 to improve performance and while nothing was said, the DX12 upgrade will likely bring some improvements for the Xbox One release of the game too.
If there’s one that that is integral to the operation of Google.com it is their domain name. Sure, they have .co.uk and a whole host of others from around the world, but owning their own .com is a vital part of their search engine and the hub for the US version of the world’s most popular search engine. So you would think they would keep it paid for and up to date right? Well, last October saw ex-Google employee Sanmay Ved managing to purchase the domain when Google forgot to renew it; I think whoops would be an understatement!
Fortunately for Google, Sanmay isn’t a bad guy and actually did them a bit of a favour, as anyone with darker intentions could have really caused them a bit of a headache, albeit for a short-lived time. When it was realised what had happened, Google reversed the transaction and Sanmay shared his endeavours via LinkedIn. Shortly afterwards, he was contacted by the team at Google Security to offer him a reward for snapping it up, but they didn’t reveal how much he was paid, only commenting that it was offered “in a very Googley way.”
Now it seems that vague comment makes a lot more sense, as it was revealed that Google Security not only paid out a nice sum of money for his reward, but it was about as “Googly” a number as you could come up with. They paid him $6,006.13, which was you can see looks a bit like $G,OOG,LE.
That’s a pretty sweet reward for a minutes work, but as I said before, Ved is a nice guy and donated the money he received to charity, at which point Google immediately doubled the total for him to donate. So it seems a lot of good came out of this little security blunder after all.
CES 2016: Newegg is one of the largest stockists of computer hardware in the USA and offers a huge range of products at competitive prices. This means the consumer usually has some sort of pricing war between Newegg, Amazon and other stores, which results in impressive discounts. Some time ago, the company revealed their plans to enter the UK market and offer a rival to Scan, Overclockers, Aria, Amazon and more! However, there hasn’t been a lot of progress in this area despite the US website allowing you to purchase items in GBP. While this might seem like a good idea, you’re still purchasing the items from a US outlet, and any product is bound by a hefty delivery charge and import duty. Once you take this into account, the final cost will be significantly more than a UK retailer.
Even though Newegg’s UK representative couldn’t give a definitive answer on the UK site’s progress, he did mention that it’s being worked on and developments should be announced this year. Without saying too much, I’m pretty sure you can see at what I’m hinting at and I cannot wait to see how this might shake up the PC hardware market in the UK.
Valve’s Steam platform has set many records over the years and this holiday sale managed to create a new one for them yesterday in the form of a new concurrent online user record. The previous record in this regard was set back in October where they managed to have 10.7 million users online at the same time. Current stats from Steam now show that they had an impressive 12.3 million concurrent users logged in at the same time yesterday.
The new record is undoubtedly aided by the ongoing holiday sale coming to an end. There haven’t been any daily deal or flash deals this year, so it is fair to assume that a lot of people have been holding off until the end with their purchases. The profile badge surely also had something to do with it and people were logging in to get the last few cards, either to sell or trade them, or complete the next level of their Winter Holiday 2015 badge.
The 12,332,504 concurrent users that were logged in at the same time is an impressive milestone and something that probably also was aided by the general increase of Chinese users. They now have about as many active users as the UK, but a total overall of 600 million user accounts. The US is still leading with about 25 million users at any given time where the UK and China come in around 5.5 and 6 million each. However, the average UK player owns five times the games according to SteamSpy statistics
It is also easy to see which games help steam on a daily basis with Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ranking the top two spots daily with around 950,000 and 650,000 users playing the games respectively at the same time.
Have you been splurging on this years Steam Winter Sale or have you been holding back for one reason or another? Let us know what you got as well as what you had hoped to get but didn’t because the proper deal was missing.
2015 was the year that cable TV companies could no longer dismiss ‘cord cutting’ – eschewing traditional television services in favour of new online alternatives, both legal and illegal – as a fad. US cable providers lost 4.9 million customers last year with that figure expected to jump by 12.5% in 2016, and that’s not counting the scores of young people who have grown up with online services and have no intention of ever signing up for cable packages. Wall Street has taken notice, too late, with billions lost over the last half-decade. Cord cutting is a real threat to old media, and it’s only going to become more popular.
How are the cable companies responding to this crisis? How do they intend to attract back old customers and tempt new young consumer? By putting their prices up, of course. From January 2016, AT&T, Verizon, Dish, DirecTV, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable will all be putting up their rates, by between $2 and $10 a month.
“Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, announced earlier this month that subscribers nationwide will see prices go up an average of 3.9 percent, and increases already have taken effect in some markets. The company will also hike its “broadcast TV fee” by 66 percent from $3 a month to $5. This relatively new fee covers the cost of retransmission fees that over-the-air broadcast TV networks like CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX charge cable companies for redistributing their networks on pay-TV systems.”
The cable providers are justifying the price rise as necessary to cover the cost of its programming. In other words, the companies are losing customers, and therefore revenue, and yet the programming output remains the same. Therefore, existing customers are having to pick up the slack left by cord cutters who have jumped ship:
“Cable and satellite companies say the higher prices cover some but not all of the higher programming costs. The amount that Time Warner Cable pays local broadcast channels has risen 85 percent in the past two years, while its costs for carrying sports networks have increased 116 percent since 2008, according to spokesman Bobby Amirshahi.”
71% of cord cutters attest to moving away from cable subscriptions due to rising costs. As ever, old media is too entrenched in its stubborn methods to turn that shotgun away from its own foot.
After ending unlimited OneDrive storage and making a number of other controversial changes, Microsoft faced heavy criticism. After a storm of heavy backlash, Microsoft eventually rolled back some of the changes they were planning to implement. Many users felt that Microsoft had rushed things and didn’t properly handle the whole debacle. Now it turns out the rush was due to the fact that “a major publication was going to print something that was very damaging and was not true” about the online storage service.
According to Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela, Microsoft had realized that offering too many users unlimited storage simply wasn’t sustainable and was planning the change. Unfortunately, an external factor forced the issue.
“We had given ourselves a couple more months to get everything lined up, all in one fell swoop. OneDrive for Business, OneDrive for consumer, how we grandfathered people, blah, blah blah.
We just were not ready. But the alternative of having a very damaging, borderline false story run in a massive publication […] We just didn’t do a good enough job in the sprint to beat the story to get the communications in the shape that they needed to be.”
In the end, it looks like Microsoft has mostly figured things out, though some issues remain. Hopefully, Microsoft has learned a lesson about communication and that if they offer users something, they’ll take it and run with it.