Most VidaBox Media Extenders have borne a closer similarity to mini PCs than to the kind of equipment you’d stack on top of a home theater receiver. That’s already been changing, but the company’s new vPlayer and vStreamer are virtually invisible in the living room by comparison. Either has a newly streamlined, stackable design that feels entirely at home in the den and keeps the noisy buzzes and whines to a minimum through a new cooling system. Although VidaBox is wonderfully vague about specs — both hubs tout a “dual core processor,” for example — its units have been modernized enough to use a thrifty 35W of typical power. The boxes lack dedicated media storage space and curiously have to be factory upgraded to get HDMI 1.4 instead of 1.3, but they’ll output 7.1-channel audio and 1080p video while integrating with most common home automation systems over RS-232. We haven’t been quoted prices to simplify any buying decisions; we expect the gap to be small between the two offerings, since the vPlayer and vStreamer are identical on the inside except for the vPlayer’s Blu-ray drive. Dealers will have a better answer for you when VidaBox starts shipping the extender duo on September 4th. Show full PR text VidaBox vPlayer™ & vStreamer™ Media Extenders Sport Redesigned Look and Premium Features New Extenders Stream Stored Blu-ray, DVD, & Music Content from any VidaBox Server, Media Center, or Media NAS, and Provide True 1080p playback with 7.1 Surround Sound. Systems Include Future Upgrade Path for HDMI 1.4 and 3D Blu-ray support. Garden City Park, NY – August 31, 2012 – VidaBox announced the official launch of their latest Media Extenders, dubbed vPlayer and vStreamer. The vStreamer has no optical drive, can stream stored Blu-ray, DVD, and music from VidaBox servers and access online streaming content, all through a single CAT5e/6 cable over Ethernet. The vPlayer has the same features, but adds a slot-loading Blu-ray drive, which supports direct disc playback, or the archival of any unencrypted disc back to the main server. This allows users to easily load new titles onto the server from any vPlayer, providing an unmatched level of convenience. “Our new, fourth-generation Media Extenders provide the richest and most robust feature set to date,” states Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox, LLC. “Combining our time-tested, custom software platform with ‘best-of-breed’ hardware, we’ve engineered these new extenders to perform reliably, while providing the highest AV playback quality possible. With life-like 1080p HD video, crisp 7.1 surround sound, and upgradability for 3D in the future, vPlayer and vStreamer are the most versatile choice for Media Extenders today.” Not only can VidaBox extenders stream locally stored media, but they can also access streaming online content from sources such as Netflix, Cinemanow, plus hundreds of thousands of internet radio stations, all through additional plug-ins and on-screen applications. This combines the convenience of on-demand, streaming content with premium playback quality only available from disc-based sources. “Other important additions that our vPlayers and vStreamers feature are their compact form factor and low energy usage,” continues Cheung. “To get the highest AV quality playback possible, large, dedicated video processors were required in the past, significantly increasing the size, heat output, and subsequently, required fanned cooling which increases the noise emitted by the unit. By utilizing the latest hardware, vPlayers and vStreamers use less than 35W of power, and emit less than 27 dBA of noise at 1m – quiet enough to be installed in any bedroom. With minimal heat being generated, this also allows the system to run cool, guaranteeing system longevity.” The vPlayer and vStreamer are also designed with integrators in mind, and include features like support for IP or RS-232/Serial controls, plus optional 2-way integration with popular control platforms like Crestron, AMX, and other brands. The units are also upgradeable in the future, for new options like 3D Blu-ray, 2K video resolution, and more. The unique design of the vPlayer and vStreamer systems supports an extended upgrade path, allowing these units to keep up with AV technology as time progresses. “Combined with a rich feature set, premium playback quality, high reliability, small size, and low noise, it’s easy to see why vPlayers and vStreamers are the best choice for multiroom video setups where quick, on-demand access to premium quality Blu-ray & DVD video, plus the convenience of streaming content are needed,” exclaims Cheung. “No other Media Extenders can provide these many features in a single package.” The vPlayer and vStreamer will be shipping and available starting Sept. 4th. For more details and specifications on these new Media Extenders, and other VidaBox digital entertainment and control solutions, please visit the company website at http://www.vidabox.com, or call +1-516-730-7500.
The latest letter from TERA’s producer is out, and while it includes some interesting statistics, the most important bit of information is that the game will be trimming down its server list. On September 18th, the game will be shrinking to three servers: an unnamed PvE server, an unnamed PvP server, and the existing RP server called Celestial Hills. The letter is quick to state that this is a net positive for players looking for a larger and more active population within a given server.Customer service has already assembled a set of answers for obvious questions. Any players with more than eight characters in total will be locked out of playing until some of those characters are deleted, so if you’ve got characters on several PvE or PvP servers, you might want to delete some. Players can also expect banks to be merged (with an overflow tab if you need to withdraw some items) and all vanarch statuses to be reset, with refunds to active candidates. The full producer’s letter has some other things for players to look forward to during September and beyond.[Thanks to Marisa for the tip!]
You don’t get to unbox anything or have that new-camera smell, so how much does the Canon 7D v2 firmware really transform the now three year-old model? The answer depends a bit on what you do with it, but for most users the Japanese maker deserves kudos from bringing new functionality to the model. Two changes stand out in particular, the first being a bump in the number of burst RAW images from 15 to 25, a boon for action shooters. The other biggie is manual audio level adjustment, saving videographers from the whims of automatic audio levels. Other tweaks include in-camera rating, resizing and editing of images; a max auto ISO setting; GPS compatibility; file name customization; time zone settings; and faster magnification scrolling and control screen adjustment during playback. To test the burst and audio functions, we got our own mitts on the firmware. Prior to updating, we put the rapid-fire 8 fps camera it through the wringer and grabbed about 16-18 RAW frames in a burst. With the v2 firmware we caught exactly 25 frames before it halted, and did it again numerous times with only an occasional stutter. As for audio, the new manual setting is still a far cry from dedicated sound level dials — on the 7D you’ll need to preset the audio before filming, and are stuck with that level until you hit ‘stop’ again. Still, it beats the previous automatic way, which was so unusable that it forced many pros into buying external audio recorders to get anything decent. A quick test confirmed the new adjustment worked well, giving usable audio in most conditions with both internal and external mics while requiring just a little fiddling beforehand to set levels. While hardly turning your 2009-era beast into an all-new DSLR, the new functionality brings the software in line with newer models, and still keeps the 7D near the top of the APS-C heap in many categories. Swapping out the sensor would be the only way to bump the one area where it now lags, low-light performance — but you can’t expect everything from a $1,500 shooter.
Specialist gaming outfit Digital Storm has busted out its new X17E gaming laptop, designed to keep you entertained without too much grunting. The 17-inch unit comes with a 1,920 x 1,080 display, a choice of GeForce GTX 680M or Radeon 7970M and an Intel Core i7-3910XM, which the company’s engineers reckon can be stably overclocked to a whopping 4.5GHz. It’s got the usual raft of features you’d expect in a high end unit, including support for 32GB RAM, USB 3.0, eSATA, Blu-Ray and a backlit keyboard you can tweak to your needs. The base model will be out at the end of September, setting you back $1,753, while a signature edition with a custom paint-job will come later, and cost you more. Show full PR text Digital Storm Announces X17E – The World’s Fastest Gaming Laptop Sub-$2,000, 17″ dual GPU gaming laptop to feature NVIDIA’s GTX 680M or AMD’s Radeon 7970M Fremont, Calif. – (August 29, 2012) – Digital Storm, the predominant name in computer system integration and engineering, proudly introduces the X17E, the fastest gaming laptop on the market. Featuring either NVIDIA’s GTX 680M or AMD’s Radeon 7970M GPU, Digital Storm’s flagship 17″ laptop delivers extreme gaming performance that is second to none. Whichever GPU gamers select, X17E delivers rich, detailed graphics on the system’s 17″ display at 1080P HD resolution (1920 x 1080). Digital Storm’s technicians can stably overclock Intel’s latest i7-3920XM CPU to an impressive 4.5 GHz, that when combined with NVIDIA’s or AMD’s next-gen GPUs, create an unrivaled gaming experience. Digital Storm’s X17E supports up to 32GB of memory and is fully decked out with USB 3.0 ports, eSata, 9-in-1 card reader, Blu-ray drive and more. The laptop’s keyboard features different lighting zones and up to seven color options for a completely customized look and feel. For enthusiasts looking to have the most exclusive gaming system, Digital Storm will be offering a select number of Signature Edition X17Es. The Signature Edition will feature a custom paint job, distinctive branding and special packaging. Digital Storm’s X17E will be available for purchase at the end of September for $1,753 & pricing for the X17E Signature Edition has not been set at this time.
back to school hub to see the rest of the product guides as they’re added throughout the month. Be sure to keep checking back — at the end of the month we’ll be giving away a ton of the gear featured in our guides — and hit up the hub page right here! It’s time to balance out that daily grind at school with some well-deserved leisure. Fortunately, many of our choices walk that fine line between work and play — if you’re willing to stump up some more cash beyond a normal laptop, you could get something capable of handling the latest PC titles. Some of our other choices may be a harder sell in the education stakes, but we all need some stress relief, right? And with bigger consoles nearing the end of their life cycles, there’s never been a more wallet-friendly time to get involved. Jump in after the break for our favorite gaming choices. If all your money’s been earmarked for learnin’, then you should certainly enter our sweepstakes. Leave a comment after the break for a chance to win, and visit our giveaway page for all the details. On the cheap Nintendo DSi While we’ve already reached the second generation of 3DS hardware, there has been more good news from Nintendo since last year’s guide. Yes, this time, the camera-toting DSi got a substantial price cut — down to around $100, depending on your color preferences. There’s still a raft of respectable games for the elder statesman of Nintendo handhelds and the DSi was also the first to connect to Nintendo’s online store, with an increasing selection of mini-games and retro titles available for download over WiFi. Key specs: Dual 3.25-inch displays, two cameras, SD card slot, WiFi. Price: $124 on Amazon You might also like… Nyko Power grip for Vita Nyko says its Power Grip will double your handheld play time — a boon for the otherwise precarious battery life of the PS Vita. The extended handles should also make those longer gaming sessions a cinch, though the rig’s unlikely to fit in your pocket anymore. Price: $30 on Amazon XBox 360 two-year subscription bundle Granted, you’ll have to be willing to pay an additional $15 per month for the two-year term, but for a lot of us, that’s a pretty manageable price for the best-selling console in recent history. Rounded out by a Kinect, it’s a very solid package for a $100 entry fee. Price: $100 on MicrosoftStore.com Mid-range Sony PlayStation Vita There’s no handheld with quite as much power as Sony’s latest effort. It’s also been around for a few months now, with several appealing game bundles now making the rounds and Sony’s online game catalog continuing to expand. A capacitive touchscreen and dual analog sticks arguably make it the gamers’ handheld console, while those feeling slightly more flush have the option to pony up a little more cash for the 3G version. Key specs: 5-inch OLED display, dual analog controls, dual touchscreens, WiFi, backwards compatibility with PSP titles online. Price: $250 on Amazon You might also like… Nintendo 3DS XL We’re still a week away from Nintendo’s newest handheld appearing on US soil, but that didn’t stop us putting it through the review wringer ahead of its launch. A bigger screen, more pervasive 3D effect and longer battery life make it a noticeable improvement over the original 3DS. Price: $199 on Nintendo.com PS3 320GB Call of Duty MW 3 bundle Sony’s console doesn’t seem to be shaking things up as much as its Microsoft rival when it comes to pricing, but the latest Modern Warfare bundle now manages to duck under the $300 mark. This nets you a 320GB system, a controller, a copy of MW3 and, naturally, an embedded Blu-ray player. Price: $300 on Amazon Money’s no object Maingear Pulse 11 This 11-inch gaming portable surprised us with a potent showing in benchmarks and real-life use. Not that we should have been all that surprised. The laptop packs an Intel third-generation Ivy Bridge processor alongside an NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M. Given the paucity of 11-inch gaming laptops, the Pulse 11 seems to be a winner if bag space is at a premium. Naturally, all that power will ensure it’s also more than capable of handling those weekly essays and web-based research projects. Key specs: 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display, Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, 250GB hard drive. Price: $999 on Maingear.com You might also like… Apple iPad (2012) Apple continues to offer a rich selection of gaming wares in its App Store — so many titles, in fact, that its firmly landed itself in gamer territory. If you have the money, then the third-generation model could be worth the extra investment over older flavors, with a super-crisp display and a battery life that’s likely to last ’til the final bell. Price: $499 on Apple.com Alienware M17x For gaming laptops that could dominate your backpack, Alienware’s latest refresh fits the bill. Now customizable with the latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M and still compatible with 3D Vision, the M17x is powered by Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processor range, and offers support for PCI Express 3.0 and several hybrid storage drive options. Price: $1,499 on Dell.com Engadget’s Back to School Giveaway Official Rules No Purchase Required to Enter or Win Eligibility: Engadget’s Back to School Giveaway (the “Giveaway”) is open only to individuals who are legal residents of the fifty (50) United States (including the District of Columbia) and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 years of age or older. Employees of Weblogs Inc. LLC, AOL Inc., their advertising or promotion agencies, those involved in the production, development, implementation or handling of Giveaways, any agents acting for, or on behalf of the above entities, their respective parent companies, officers, directors, subsidiaries, affiliates, licensees, service providers, prize suppliers any other person or entity associated with the Giveaways (collectively “Giveaway Entities”) and/or the immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings and children) and household members (whether related or not) of each such employee, are not eligible. All U.S., federal, state and local and Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal laws and regulations apply. Void in Quebec, Puerto Rico and where prohibited by law. Sponsor: The Giveaway is sponsored by Weblogs Inc. LLC, 770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 (“Sponsor”). Agreement to Official Rules: Participation in the Giveaway constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding. Winning a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein. Giveaway Period: The Giveaway begins at 12:00 pm ET on August 6, 2012 and ends at 12:00 pm ET on September 7, 2012 (the “Giveaway Period”). The Giveaway Period shall be divided into fifteen (15) separate Entry Periods: Entry Period 1 begins at 12PM ET on August 6, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 2 begins at 1PM ET on August 6, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 3 begins at 12PM ET on August 7, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 4 begins at 12PM ET on August 8, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 5 begins at 12PM ET on August 9, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 6 begins at 12PM ET on August 10, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 7 begins at 12PM ET on August 13, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 8 begins at 12PM ET on August 15, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 9 begins at 12PM ET on August 17, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 10 begins at 12PM ET on August 20, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 11 begins at 12PM ET on August 22, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 12 begins at 12PM ET on August 24, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 13 begins at 12PM ET on August 27, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 14 begins at 12PM ET on August 29, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry Period 15 begins at 12PM ET on August 31, 2012 and ends at 12PM ET on September 7, 2012. Entry: During the Giveaway Period, go to engadget.com/2012/08/06/back-to-school-giveaway and follow the instructions to submit your entry. The use of any agencies or automated software to submit entries will void all entries submitted by that person. Drawing: At the conclusion of the Giveaway Period, Sponsor will select the name of one (1) Grand Prize Winner from each of the fifteen (15) Entry Periods in a random drawing of all eligible entries received during each Entry Period. The odds of being selected as a potential winner depend on the number of eligible entries received during the applicable Entry Period. Potential Winners will be contacted via email and asked to provide their full name, age and mailing address within a specified time period. If a potential winner does not respond within the timeframe stated in the notification email, the Sponsor may select an alternate potential winner in his/her place at random from all entries received during the Entry Period. Non-winning entries from one Entry Period do not carry over into subsequent Entry Periods. Requirements of the Potential Winners: Except where prohibited, the potential winners will be required to complete and return an affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity release (the “Affidavit/Release”) and IRS W-9 form within seven (7) days of being notified. If a potential winner fails to sign and return the Affidavit/Release and W-9 form within the required time period, an alternate entrant may be selected in his/her place in a random drawing of all entries received. Acceptance of a prize constitutes consent to use winner’s name and likeness for editorial, advertising and publicity purposes without additional compensation, except where prohibited by law. In the event the potential winner of any prize is a Canadian resident, he/she will also be required to correctly answer a time-limited mathematical question to be administered by email, mail or phone to receive the prize. Limit one (1) prize per household. Prizes: Fifteen (15) Grand Prize Winners will each receive a Back to School Prize Pack containing the following items: HP Envy Ultrabook 4, Sony NEX-F3, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0), Samsung Galaxy S III (AT&T), Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, AiAiAi Capital headphones, Western Digital My Passport (1TB) hard drive, Timbuk2 Commute Messenger laptop bag, Flying Alarm Clock, AOC 16″ USB monitor, Spotify Premium subscription (1 year), Satechi Energy Station, Edifier Tick Tock, Satechi 12-port USB hub, NuForce Cube, Withings WiFi Scale, Powermat 24-hour system, Carbonite Backup (1 year), AViiQ Ready Chips, and Targus Defcon 1 lock. Approximate Retail Value of each Prize Pack is $3,203. Subscriptions are subject to issuer’s terms and conditions. Activation fees and monthly service fees not included with any smartphone/digital devices. No cash or other substitution may be made, except by the Sponsor, who reserves the right to substitute a prize or portion of a prize with another prize of equal or greater value if the prize is not available for any reason as determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion. Winners are responsible for any taxes and fees associated with receipt or use of a prize. General Conditions: In the event that the operation, security, or administration of the Giveaway is impaired in any way for any reason, including, but not limited to fraud, virus, or other technical problem, the Sponsor may, in its sole discretion, either: (a) suspend the Giveaway to address the impairment and then resume the Giveaway in a manner that best conforms to the spirit of these Official Rules; or (b) award the prizes at random from among the eligible entries received up to the time of the impairment. The Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Giveaway or to be acting in violation of these Official Rules or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Any attempt by any person to undermine the legitimate operation of the Giveaway may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and, should such an attempt be made, the Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. The Sponsor’s failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. In case of a dispute as to the owner of an entry, entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the screen name from which the entry is made. The authorized account holder is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. Release and Limitations of Liability: By participating in the Giveaway, entrants agree to release, defend indemnify and hold harmless the Giveaway Entities from and against any claim or cause of action, including without limitation, any third party claim, arising out of participation in the Giveaway or receipt, use or misuse of any prize, including, but not limited to: (a) unauthorized human intervention in the Giveaway; (b) technical errors related to computers, servers, providers, or telephone or network lines; (c) printing errors; (d) lost, late, postage-due, misdirected, or undeliverable mail; (e) errors in the administration of the Giveaway or the processing of entries; or (f) injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Giveaway or receipt, use or misuse of any prize. Entrant further agrees that in any cause of action, the Giveaway Entities’ liability will be limited to the cost of entering and participating in the Giveaway, and in no event shall the Giveaway Entities be liable for attorney’s fees. Entrant waives the right to claim any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, consequential, direct, or indirect damages. TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, THE PRIZES AND ALL ELEMENTS THEREOF ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF ANY KIND. SPONSOR DISCLAIMS ALL EXPRESS AND IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND/OR NON-INFRINGEMENT. Some jurisdictions do not allow the disclaimer of implied warranties. In such jurisdictions, some of the foregoing disclaimers may not apply to you insofar as they relate to implied warranties. Disputes: Except where prohibited, entrant agrees that any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Giveaway or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, entrant’s rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of the Sponsor in connection with the Giveaway, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the Commonwealth of Virginia or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the Commonwealth of Virginia. Giveaway Results: To request the names of the winners, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Engadget Back to School Giveaway Winners, 770 Broadway, Attn: J. Turi, New York, NY 10003. Requests must be received by September 30, 2012. comments
Guild Wars 2’s headstart kicked off this weekend, and the official launch is this week, so you know what that means! Yep, One Shots is going to feature the most visually appealing game of all time: Ultima Online! Just kidding. It’s Guild Wars 2 day, and we’ve got an extra-long eyecandy edition of One Shots to celebrate.Who gets to headline today’s column? A generous reader named Vazzaroth, who graciously opened up his entire vault of Guild Wars 2 screenshots to Massively. We’re including two of our favorites here, but feel free to crash his site pawing through the rest! They’re just past the break, alongside a bundle of our favorite Guild Wars 2 submissions received since April. I like this next shot so much I’m using it as desktop wallpaper. It’s from reader InstaBayne, who says he stumbled into this amazing view after wandering about from event to event and getting lost! I love the yellowy grass and chunky, moody sky.You might remember Brazokie from the orrery edition back in June. She’s back, and she’s hoping you’re hungry because she’s whipping up some yums in the crafting side of Guild Wars 2.And speaking of the orrery… how gorgeous is this shot taken in Divinity’s Reach by eyeofthetiger?Here’s another Guild Wars 2 image from a veteran Massively poster, Oscar. I love that the Queensdale grass is almost as tall as his character is!Our next image is from a player named Ring, who deadpanned, “My Necromancer was called on during the recent beta event to stop a horde of freakishly huge rabbits from destroying watermelons in a local field. I don’t know of anyone better suited to carry around giant, fluffy bunnies than a priest of Grenth.”Darla emailed us a view of her Asura “taking a break from keg brawl by studying the physiology of the local organisms around the Norn capital Hoelbrak.” Darla, that doesn’t exactly look safe!Next up is a screenshot from a reader named Jerry, who said only that it’s his character Kurin Sparrowhawk. Super cute Sylvari boy? Check! Kinda looks like Darth Maul? Bonus!Finally, loooong-time Massively commenter Space Cobra delivered this wee little beta screenshot of a former Massively staffer and current ArenaNet community guru. He teases, “It is none other than Rubi Bayer, scolding her Golem in her attempt to gain the upper hand on her classmates. She has evidently failed in attempt to ‘cheat’ and is venting the classic Asura warcry of failure.” Noooooo!Next week, we’ll be back with your regularly scheduled (and much more diverse — I promise) One Shots. Keep sending ’em in!Want to be featured in a future edition of One Shots? Send your favorite MMO screenshots to firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to include your name, the name of the game, and a description of the scene. Large, colorful, UI-free shots that tell a story and really show off the game make for the best images. Look ma, we brought back One Shots!
send us a tip with “Insert Coin” as the subject line. Sometimes you just can’t remember if you turned off the toaster oven before leaving the house. Sitting at work, you might wonder, “is my house burning down?” or “should I go home and check?” You could run home, of course, or you could just link that croissant cooker up to the internet and switch it off from your phone. SmartThings promises to let you do just that, offering a system that connects everyday physical objects to a cloud-based control center. The project aims to provide users with a bevy of end-devices — automatic door locks, thermostats, humidity sensors, presence sensors, power outlet switches and more — that connect to a router-like SmartThings hub. From here the user can easily see and control these devices on the SmartThings mobile app. That alone would be pretty handy — but the SmartThings team decided to take it a step further by building SmartApps, that is, applications for further customizing how SmartThings devices (and the user) interact with the every day objects they’re attached to. The platform is going to remain open, too, allowing owners and developers to build custom applications to fit their needs. Better still, the project is on a tight time line, and aims to put its product in backer hands by December — of course, it’ll have to reach its $250,000 Kickstarter goal first. Check out the team’s pitch after the break, or hit up the source link below for more details. Previous project update: The Quikdraw has wrangled an additional $10k in pledges since we saw them on Friday, putting them over the hump. With more then half of its funding locked down 23 days to go, this crowdsourced holster is definitely quick on the draw.
Microsoft is releasing the Domain Awareness System, a software kit, designed with the NYPD, for law enforcement agencies. Pulling together data from CCTV Cameras, radiation detectors and license-plate readers, it uses a detailed database to give instant tracking when things take a turn for the worse. It’s also taking some cues from the city’s CompStat, using geographical patterns to help effectively deploy members of the 5-0 in areas statistically likely to suffer more crime. DAS is being marketed worldwide, with the city of New York taking a cut of 30 percent of the profit and a copy of any useful tweaks that are made in the field. We’re just sad that none of the NYPD:Blue fans at Redmond decided to call the system Sipowi…ndows (geddit?). Show full PR text MAYOR BLOOMBERG, POLICE COMMISSIONER KELLY AND MICROSOFT UNVEIL NEW, STATE-OF-THE-ART LAW ENFORCEMENT TECHNOLOGY THAT AGGREGATES AND ANALYZES EXISTING PUBLIC SAFETY DATA IN REAL TIME TO PROVIDE A COMPREHENSIVE VIEW OF POTENTIAL THREATS AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITY System Designed Jointly by NYPD Officers and Microsoft, Pools Existing Streams of Data from Live Camera Feeds, 911 Calls, Mapped Crime Patterns and More to Help Officers Prevent Crimes and Respond Faster Microsoft to Sell System Software to Other Governments – City Receives 30 Percent of Future Sales Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced a new partnership with Microsoft designed to bring the latest crime prevention and counterterrorism technology capabilities to New York City and to law enforcement, public safety, and intelligence agencies worldwide. The NYPD and Microsoft worked together to develop the Domain Awareness System, a sophisticated law enforcement technology solution that aggregates and analyzes existing public safety data streams in real time, providing NYPD investigators and analysts with a comprehensive view of potential threats and criminal activity. For example, analysts are quickly notified of suspicious packages and vehicles and NYPD personnel can actively search for suspects using advanced technologies like smart cameras and license plate readers. The NYPD and Microsoft jointly developed the system by bringing together Microsoft’s technical expertise and technologies with the day-to-day experience and knowledge of NYPD officers. As part of the agreement, the City will receive 30 percent of revenues on Microsoft’s future sales of the Domain Awareness System, which will be used to support innovative and cutting-edge crime-prevention and counter-terrorism programs. The Mayor and Police Commissioner were joined at the announcement in Lower Manhattan at the NYPD’s Lower Manhattan Security Initiative headquarters by Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Rahul Merchant and Vice President of Microsoft Americas Services (Ret.) Lieutenant General Mike McDuffie. “Part of the reason we have been able to continue driving down crime to record lows while devoting considerable resources counter-terrorism is our heavy investment in technology and our willingness to develop new, cutting-edge solutions to keep New Yorkers safe,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This new system capitalizes on new powerful policing software that allows police officers and other personnel to more quickly access relevant information gathered from existing cameras, 911 calls, previous crime reports and other existing tools and technology. It will help the NYPD do more to prevent crimes from occurring and help them respond to crimes even more effectively. And because the NYPD built the system in partnership with Microsoft, the sale of the product will generate revenue for the City that will fund more new crime-prevention and counter-terrorism programs.” “The system is a transformative tool because it was created by police officers for police officers,” said Police Commissioner Kelly. “Its development is a testament to the talent and experience of our officers. And this agreement with Microsoft will allow the NYPD to continue to fund innovative counterterrorism and crime prevention programs.” “Microsoft is honored to partner with the NYPD to provide these important public safety capabilities to other jurisdictions,” said Kathleen Hogan, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Services. “The NYPD is a respected leader and continuously innovating to ensure the safety of their citizens. It is a privilege to support their work with our technology and professional services.” “By providing real-time analytics and improved situational awareness for the men and women on the front lines of counterterrorism and crime prevention, this new system can help further enhance public safety outcomes for New Yorkers,” said Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Merchant. “And by using the New York City Wireless Network – our high-speed, mission-critical wireless broadband infrastructure – to support the Domain Awareness System, we’re leveraging an existing, innovative technology solution to provide ever more capabilities to police officers in the field.” The Domain Awareness System is a powerful counterterrorism and policing tool for retrieving and displaying information from cameras, license plate readers, environmental sensors and law enforcement databases. Using an intelligent and intuitive graphical interface, it provides real-time alerts and the means to quickly call up relevant information to guide and inform police action. Its mapping features, which are tied to rich data sources, support investigations, crime analysis and effective management of police resources. The system, developed by police officers for police officers, is an innovative tool that has the potential to revolutionize law enforcement, intelligence and public safety operations. Examples of scenarios where the new system will help the NYPD prevent or solve crimes: Investigators will have immediate access to information through live video feeds, and instantly see suspect arrest records, 911 calls associated with the suspect, related crimes occurring in the area and more; Investigators can map criminal history to geospatially and chronologically reveal crime patterns; Investigators can track where a car associated with a suspect is located, and where it has been in past days, weeks or months; Police commanders can query databases to map, review and correlate crime information with the deployment of resources; If a suspicious package is left at a location, the NYPD can immediately tap into video feeds and quickly look back in time and see who left it there; or If radiation detectors in the field set off alarms and alert the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative command center, the new system will help quickly identify whether the radioactive material is naturally occurring, a weapon, or a harmless isotope used in medical treatments. The City has approximately 3,000 Closed-Circuit TV cameras connected to the Domain Awareness System. The majority of these cameras are in Lower Manhattan – south of Canal Street, from river to river – and in Midtown Manhattan – between 30th street and 60th street, from river to river. NYPD has begun to expand camera coverage to in the boroughs outside of Manhattan. System Development The NYPD and Microsoft jointly developed the system by bringing together Microsoft’s technical expertise and technologies with the day-to-day experience and knowledge of NYPD personnel. Microsoft handled the coding and system architecture, and the NYPD set out the system requirements, which were developed through an exhaustive series of focus groups in which members of the NYPD thought critically and creatively about how they perform their jobs and how technology could facilitate and streamline efficient operations of our mission. Agreement with Microsoft Microsoft has agreed to pay the City 30 percent of its gross revenues on the sale of the system to other customers worldwide. In addition, Microsoft will provide access to any innovation derived from the sale of the system to new customers. The NYPD has agreed to describe accurately the project to prospective licensees of the base technology platform. Revenue generated for the City from the sale of this technology will be used to support innovative and cutting-edge counter-terrorism and crime-prevention programs. The agreement encourages the sharing of cutting-edge best practices and innovation in order to fight terrorism and crime. The agreement allowed City government to leverage its resources to utilize a private sector company to create a tool to better protect New Yorkers and to create a product that can help other jurisdictions or companies benefit from the expertise of the NYPD.
Fable: The Journey may not launch until early October, but you’ll be able to take its virtual reins on September 17 when a demo for the game goes live worldwide on Xbox 360. Microsoft and Lionhead describe the demo as filled with “heart-pounding action,” so, uh, maybe take some heart medication ahead of playing the game.Should the potential for heart failure caused by playing a demo worry you too much, you could always just watch the new “ViDoc” above. It’s a lot like a trailer, but with a weird name. Take a look! Show full PR text Get a Sneak Peek at the Heart-Pounding Action in “Fable: The Journey” with a New Video Documentary and Upcoming Xbox LIVE Demo Lionhead Studios unlocks the intense storyline of “Fable: The Journey” in the title’s first video documentary Launching October 9 in the U.S., Lionhead Studios today revealed the first “Fable: The Journey” video documentary, “Telling the Tale.” This ViDoc takes “Fable” fans behind-the-scenes with the Lionhead team for an in-depth look at the game’s captivating narrative. “Fable: The Journey” immerses players in the tale of a young dweller named Gabriel and follows him on a journey to change his fate and become the hero that battles the corruption that plagues Albion. Fans will have a chance to play “Fable: The Journey” before global availability in the first “Fable” Xbox LIVE demo on Kinect for Xbox 360 launching on September 17 worldwide. As the first “Fable” title built from the ground up on Kinect for Xbox 360, “Fable: The Journey” features new territories of an expanded Albion alongside bigger and badder enemies. The game also marks the return of Theresa in her fourth “Fable” game and greatest role as the spark that fuels Gabriel’s magical evolution. Stay tuned for more revealing “Fable: The Journey” ViDocs heading into the fall launch.
What do a statistician, a tinkerer, a party guy, a time-challenged player, and my better half all have in common? They’re a handful of gamers who have recently been playing RIFT with me, and many of them have come back after a break from the game. It’s pretty much been one coincidence after another that they’ve all come back around the same time, and while we all get along swimmingly, we all have differences in our playstyles that make this group a decent representation of the RIFT demographic on the whole. Would the game hook in everyone? Would the second time be the charm? Hear their impressions in this week’s Enter at Your Own Rift. Mission impossibleOf all the moments in these past few weeks, one sums things up perfectly. I was in game one night and got a chat ping out of the blue from a guildmate. He wanted to catch up with how everyone was doing, and specifically, which people were playing. I mentioned that we had a few pop back into RIFT, and he immediately replied that he had actually been downloading it while we chatted. This particular guildie is someone who’d made a hobby out of his gaming hobby and at one point in his spare time had created a parse program for RIFT that built upon the Advanced Combat Tracker for EverQuest II. But his gaming time had been scaled down quite a bit because of real-life obligations. Time is at a premium, so when he told me he was done patching, it was time to spring to action. Like something out of Mission Impossible, I first had him log in and transfer to the server to which we had relocated the guild (luckily he didn’t have a lot in his mailbox to clean out). In about the amount of time it takes to make popcorn, he was on our server, and a few seconds later, he was already invited and in a group. Meanwhile, a couple of guildmates who had recently returned and were up to the mid-levels also mentored down and queued up with us for an instant adventure (we had a few seconds to tell him to just buckle up and follow us). From there, it turned into a night of lots of fighting, leveling, and looting.I chatted with him the next day after the whirlwind tour to get his take on mentoring, IAs, and most importantly, his take on the game. He admitted that it was a pretty frenzied pace from the moment he logged in, but he enjoyed the fact that we weren’t standing around trying to figure out where to go for old quest updates or dig through old journal entries. As he put it, no one was saying, “What kills do you guys need now?” The experience has also been terrific, and he’s been following a “level a day” plan but also doing it on a fairly tight gaming schedule. In short, he’s been able to get a decent amount of experience from doing IAs in quick bursts of an hour or so and has had a lot of fun doing it.That sentiment was echoed by just about everyone in the guild. While my guildies did have old quests in their journals and lots of unfamiliar items in their bags, they could put off housecleaning until later and jump into an IA with some mentored-down friends right away. In addition, it’s been a fairly quick path to level 50, which is on everyone’s to do list since the expansion is due this fall. My husband found that even after he had outleveled the new lower-level IAs, he could mentor down and still get terrific experience from continuing to run them. He did do some questing, but over the week or two it took to get his Rogue to level 50, a big chunk of the experience came from instant adventures.SeamlessOne thing I’ve really enjoyed about the wave of returning players is that everyone’s been able to slide up and down the level ladder and do things together. Usually, when a player comes back after a hiatus, you have to pause what you’re doing in order to play together and help him get up to speed. That’s not the case in RIFT. One day, a few of us mentored down to join a lower-level member and run some random IAs to help him level up, and we were able to get some inscribed and planarite along the way from the daily quest. The next day, a friend in another guild who has played from day one, has several level capped toons, and raids regularly took a few returning players out to Ember Isle to run some onslaughts. We all walked away with loads of planarite, inscribed, and planar attunement experience, which was something we all could use.After just a few weeks, almost everyone who came back is level-capped, and some are now running expert dungeons and raiding. It didn’t feel like a grind to get there, though, and in fact, a couple of them had work, travel, and family trips that kept them offline here and there. It’s not so much that the game is easymode; it’s just that we’re all spending less time standing around looking at quest updates and playing catch up and more time actually doing productive (and fun!) things in game.The wish listSo what sorts of things made them grumble? Inventory came up a lot. Even though bag sort helped organize things a bit, many of my friends returned to bags full of stuff that had lost meaning. As one buddy pointed out, she had loads of the consumables from sealing rifts, as well as piles of various essences, and they added a lot of clutter to her inventory. Someone else added that he had several quest items that were taking up space (although a guildmate showed him how he could place them in a row below his quest journal to free up space in his bags).Another thing that many members wished for was the addition of even more instant adventures. We debated whether having so many would cause the playerbase to thin out too much, but one friend suggested that it would freshen up the “random adventure” category to have more variety. Another said that he’d like to see more mid-level IAs, along with an option for lower-level players to either temporarily mentor up or have a fairly large level range so they could participate even if they were technically too low for the zone. They might not be able to survive alone, but in an army of higher-level players, they could probably survive and participate.Overall, the past few weeks have been pretty active in guild, and what’s really nice to see is that the game changes over the past several months have attracted a variety of player types. One guildie is making a fortune by fishing and crafting feasts and black dye, and low-key activities like these fit perfectly with his busy schedule. Meanwhile, someone else stumbled into a PvP zone event the other day and was instantly hooked. Another guildie is having a great time diving into the data from the SimpleMeter Addon and exploring various soul combinations. (In fact, he was wishing for more roles so he could try a new Ranger soul build). I think he summed things up nicely when he said that there are a lot more choices of things to do in game and there’s also a lot of choice in how you progress and gear up. So far, those who have been playing are happy with their experiences, and there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained while we wait for the expansion!Whether they’re keeping the vigil or defying the gods, Karen Bryan and Justin Olivetti save Telara on a weekly basis. Covering all aspects of life in RIFT, from solo play to guild raids, their column is dedicated to backhanding multidimensional tears so hard that they go crying to their mommas. Email Karen and Justin for questions, comments, and adulation.