August 30th, 2013
07:10 AM ET

Game Faces: Josef Fares

Video games aren't always seen as the best medium for storytelling. But I think they should be, for one simple reason: interactivity.

As the player, you're experiencing the story first-hand. Whatever happens to the protagonist of the story is happening to you as a player. How you act and react forms part of the story.

I think interactivity should, in theory, allow people to have a greater connection with the story. But too many games use non-interactive, cinematic sequences to show their most important scenes. At a time when games could hammer home the advantage they have over movies, the player instead puts down the controller to passively watch it unfold without his input.

So it's funny that it took a Swedish filmmaker to make a game that avoids cinematic tricks to tell his story.


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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General • Personal musings
August 29th, 2013
10:48 PM ET

Nintendo unveils the 2DS

It's safe to say few saw this coming: Nintendo's latest version of the popular 3DS handheld game console is ditching the 3D screen.

The Nintendo 2DS will play all 3DS (and DS) games - they just won't be in 3D. The upside? The 2DS will cost just $129 in the United States, $40 cheaper than the existing 3DS.

Kristie Lu Stout spoke to Nintendo of America's Reggie Fils-Aime about the 2DS, the Wii U's struggles, and Nintendo thinks you should swap Nike FuelBand for Wii Fit U.

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Filed under: Games • General • Titans of Tech
August 23rd, 2013
09:33 AM ET

Why your mobile phone is a weather station

Your smart phone is smarter than you think.

The UK-based OpenSignal has developed an app that crowd sources the weather using data from your mobile battery.

That's right, you can tell how hot it is outside thanks your cellphone's energy source. That's because smartphones have built-in thermometers to track battery temperature to help prevent overheating.

It's something the company discovered by accident. A year ago, OpenSignal discovered a strong correlation between battery temperature and daily temperatures recorded at a weather station.

Its WeatherSignal app, available for Android phones, crowd sources the temperature data from thousands of users who are running the app.

How accurate is the data? And will it be able to predict the weather one day?

Click on to my News Stream interview with OpenSignal co-founder and CTO James Robinson to find out.

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Filed under: Data • Gadgets • Technology • Weather
August 12th, 2013
01:49 PM ET

How to fight online bullies

What can be done to fight an outbreak of online threats and bullying in the UK?

British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a boycott of sites that allow cyberbullying, while asking for website operators to "step up to the plate" and show some responsibility.

A number of companies have pulled their ads from Ask.fm, the site where 14-year-old Hannah Smith was bullied before she committed suicide.

British MP Barry Sheerman wants to take action. On News Stream he said, "I would set up a commission and look at the responsibility of people who own and manage sites like Twitter and Ask.fm because they have responsibility."

"I would look at a range of options like a red button if you're being bullied, so immediately it flags you to a counselor - if you are a child - who can give you information, guidance and advice."

"Also, what we need to do is prosecute these people who cause an enormous disturbance to others as much mentally as physically."

Click on to hear more from Sheerman. What he reveals could be the beginning of one country's legislated approach to online abuse.

August 9th, 2013
04:33 PM ET

Wikipedia in the wake of Snowden

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is in Hong Kong for Wikimania, the annual gathering that charts the future of the popular website.

Speaking at the conference this morning, he addressed another high-profile visitor to the territory – Edward Snowden.

Wales called the NSA leaker “awesome,” and that “he’s done something remarkable and really important.”

Jimmy Wales said Snowden’s leaks led to Wikipedia’s decision to encryption more quickly.

But why is it important to keep what we’re reading on Wikipedia a secret?

Click on to hear his response… as well as his thoughts on the Lavabit shutdown and efforts to bring more contributors into the Wikipedia fold.

August 7th, 2013
02:06 PM ET

Wikipedia's next frontier

10 years ago, I filed my first report on Wikipedia.

The topic of that report, Hong Kong's Wikipedia outreach and community, will be revisited at Wikimania 2013 - taking place here in the territory this year, from August 7 to August 11.

It was Andrew Lih, now an associate professor at American University, who first introduced me to Wikipedia.

Now back in Hong Kong for the conference, he tells me the core challenges ahead for Wikipedia are introducing more video and interactive features to the site, and broadening its base of contributors.

Shockingly, Lih says some 90% of Wikipedia's contributor population is male. How does Wikipedia plan to bridge the gender gap?

Watch the video above to find out.

August 5th, 2013
01:56 PM ET

Tackling trolls on Twitter

After a dark week for women on social media, many are asking: What do you do if you become the target of online abuse?

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, offers some practical advice.

She recommends keeping your address and phone number off the Internet, as well as reporting any abuse to the social platform.

As for Twitter, an in-tweet report button is available on Apple devices and will be available for Android and Twitter.com next month.

"And if somebody threatens you with rape online, death threats," says Bates, "you can and should go to police."

Threatening to rape or kill someone is a crime. Even on social media.

August 5th, 2013
01:51 PM ET

How accountable are social networks?

Should Facebook or Twitter do more to clean up their platforms from bullying or direct threats?

Yes... and no, says News Stream contributor Nicholas Thompson.

In the case of Twitter, he says its in-tweet report abuse button might be the best way for the network to deal with online abuse.

"It allows Twitter to self-police without Twitter taking the extreme step of saying, 'we're going to ban this kind of speech'... which always gets you into some kind of trouble," Thompson says.

"Twitter's general policy needs to be to let more speech happen. It shouldn't get in the business of restricting speech except in extreme and particular circumstances."

Click the video above for more of our conversation about encouraging expression while discouraging the trolls.