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September 3rd, 2014
10:03 PM ET

Game Faces: Rami Ismail

For a small developer that's just four years old, Vlambeer has a surprising influence on the gaming industry.

The Dutch studio is made up of just two people, but it's one of the most well-known indie developers. Co-founder Rami Ismail almost feels like an unofficial spokesman for the industry.

"We are not afraid to speak up against things we find problematic in the industry, and things we find interesting in the industry," said Ismail.

Indeed, he has been a staunch supporter of Anita Sarkeesian and her series examining women in video games - a series that has sparked a wave of abuse for Sarkeesian and those who stand with her.

He also suggested Vlambeer's high profile might be because the company always seems to find itself in the middle of the industry's latest trends. FULL POST

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General • Technology
September 3rd, 2014
06:57 AM ET

The rise of Xiaomi

Executives in wigs dancing and singing on stage. Hundreds of fans clad in the same orange shirt cheering them on. Fans racing on stage to win plush toys.

I wasn't sure what to expect from my first Xiaomi fan event. But I didn't expect this.

FULL POST

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Filed under: China • Technology • Titans of Tech
September 2nd, 2014
07:06 PM ET

Cloud computing demystified

The FBI has entered the hunt for the hacker who stole dozens of private celebrity photos. The nude images may have been stored in the "cloud."

It's safe to say that many don't really understand cloud computing. The new Cameron Diaz film "Sex Tape" is based around the idea that nobody gets how it works.

But it's actually fairly simple.

cloud2The cloud is really just another word for servers on the Internet. Using the cloud means you're outsourcing tasks to those servers that might otherwise be performed by your local device. The most common one is to use the cloud for storage; so, instead of storing data on your computer, data is stored on remote servers that you access via the Internet.

Think of it like putting your money in a bank. You're putting your property in a dedicated storage space. Using a bank means you don't have to keep all your money in a piggy bank at home, while using the cloud means you don't have to have every photo you've ever taken taking up valuable space on your iPad. And when you do want to see your photos, storing them on the cloud allows you to access it on any device - similar to how banks allow you to withdraw money from any ATM.

And it's a safe bet that you're already using cloud services. If you've ever used Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or any web mail service, then you've been storing your email in the cloud.

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Filed under: Data • Technology
June 16th, 2014
03:08 PM ET

Virtual reality's new reality

There’s something a little strange that one of today’s hottest trends in technology is… virtual reality.

It’s an idea that seems past its time; sitting alongside household atomic generators and personal jetpacks as visions for the future that seem laughable today. But VR isn’t a joke anymore.

I had the chance to try on the headset that has almost single-handedly revived interest in virtual reality: the Oculus Rift.

For now, the Rift is only in the prototype stage and has some way to go before it’s ready for consumers. Still, even at this early stage the potential of the Rift is incredible.

It looks big and bulky, but once it was strapped to my head I couldn’t feel the weight of the Rift. The whole setup is slightly cumbersome; you have the headset, then you have to put on headphones and find your controller — without being able to see either, because your eyes are covered by the Rift.

My first impressions of the Rift? It’s a little unsettling. I was surprised by the low resolution of the screen, individual pixels reminding me that my eyes were millimeters away from them; I was acutely aware of the edges of the display; and basically, I could feel like I had a big plastic visor strapped to my face.

But then you move your head… and your view of the world shifts almost perfectly with your movement. Move your head to the left, and you’re looking left.

I played a 3D platforming game called Lucky’s Tale (from the creator of Words With Friends). To be brutally honest, it felt a little like a simple Mario clone: You make a cute little fox run and jump along a basic path running from left to right. Then the path turns back to the left… and you find yourself scoping out the way ahead simply by turning your head to look at it.

Video games have allowed you to move your view of the world for years through a controller. It’s not a new idea. But with the Rift, looking around a game’s world is as natural as looking around our own.

That’s when the Oculus Rift experience starts to click, and it all starts to work.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • Games • Technology
June 12th, 2014
03:24 PM ET

Three standouts from E3 2014

E3 is one of video gaming's biggest events of the year; a three-day gathering in Los Angeles where almost all of the industry’s major players show off their newest titles.

Here are the three games that stood out most to me from E3 2014.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Games
May 1st, 2014
07:54 PM ET

Game Faces: Jake Kazdal

It's always special to see a product that truly reflects its creator. GALAK-Z: The Dimensional bears the fingerprints of 17-BIT's Jake Kazdal. FULL POST

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General • Technology
April 24th, 2014
11:01 PM ET

Why would Nike kill the FuelBand?

Sometimes it feels like everyone is wearing a fitness band on their wrist, whether it's the Fitbit Flex, Jawbone Up or Nike FuelBand.

But now there are reports that Nike might kill the FuelBand.

Why would Nike kill an apparently popular gadget?

The New Yorker's Nicholas Thompson suggests that Nike might be trying to pull out of dedicated fitness bands before they're replaced by other wearables - such as the much-hyped Apple smart watch.

"Think about the Flip video camera, which was a huge sensation, everyone thought they'd be huge. And then suddenly the iPhone can take videos that are just as good, and Flip went away."

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Filed under: Gadgets • Health • Technology
April 1st, 2014
11:11 PM ET

Game Faces: Vince Zampella

The mark of a good multiplayer game is balance. Ideally, you want it to be fair for everyone who plays your game.

One simple way to ensure a fair fight is to give everyone the same tools. It's the easiest (and most logical) way to level the playing field. If everyone has access to the same weapons and same moves, the only major difference is a player's ability, right?

Titanfall is a multiplayer game built around a unique central concept: Giant armored mechs (Titans) battling with small and agile foot soldiers (pilots).

On paper, it is not a fair fight.

And that's what makes Titanfall so much fun. FULL POST

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General
March 12th, 2014
12:00 PM ET

World Wide Web turns 25

It started as a project by a British computer scientist to make it easier for universities to share and navigate large amounts of information.

Twenty-five years on, the World Wide Web stands as perhaps our greatest ever creation: A way to access the collective knowledge of humanity.

You can watch our tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee's creation above and check out a recreation of the first ever webpage right here.

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Filed under: General • Technology
January 31st, 2014
03:35 AM ET

Saving Nintendo

Nintendo is in trouble.

It's hard to disagree with that after it slashed its forecast for Wii U sales from 9 million to just 2.8 million. Less dramatic but perhaps just as troubling: It also cut its forecast for its market-leading 3DS handheld. Nintendo now expects to sell 13.5 million of them, down from the 18 million they originally expected.

But what's up for debate is how Nintendo can climb out of this hole. By far the most common solution suggested: Nintendo should put games like Mario and Zelda on smartphones and tablets.

I disagree.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Games • General • Personal musings • Technology
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