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Will Sunset Overdrive Make It To The PC?

November 21, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft has seen a number of Xbox One exclusive titles already be ported to the PC. Both Dead Rising 3 and Ryse have already made it to the PC, but we are now again hearing that Sunset Overdrive again is heading to the PC and Forza Horizon 2 maybe following as well.

This is not the first time we have heard rumors of Sunset Overdrive coming to the PC. An ad that suggested as much was down played at the time by Insomiac as a mistake. Now Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2 showed up on Amazon France as coming for the PC.

While Phil Spencer has suggested that Microsoft will have more to say about the PC in 2015 and that it would be a good thing for PC gamers. The reality is that Microsoft has not pushed PC game development in a longtime as it chose to focus on titles for the Xbox and Xbox 360. With the Xbox One being closer in design to the PC, porting a title to the PC is easier and Microsoft of course wants to be a player in this space.

We will have to wait and see what actually happens, but should Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2 make their way to the PC, it will be a good thing for PC gamers. Then again it could just be nothing more than a mistake.

Courtesy-Fud

Nokia Launches N1 Tablet

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Finland’s Nokia unveiled a new brand-licensed tablet computer which is designed to rival Apple’s iPad Mini, just six months after the company sold its underperforming phones and devices business to Microsoft for over $7 billion.

Nokia, a name which was once synonymous with mobile phones until first Apple and then Samsung Electronics eclipsed the Finnish company with the advent of smart phones, said the manufacturing, distribution and sales of the new N1 tablet, will be handled under license by Taiwan’s Foxconn.

The aluminum-cased N1, which runs on Google’s Android Lollipop operating software but features Nokia’s new Z Launcher intelligent home screen interface, is due to be in stores in China in the first quarter of next year for an estimated price of $249 before taxes, with sales to other markets to follow.

Sebastian Nystrom, the head of products at Nokia’s Technologies unit, said the company was looking to follow up with more devices and will also look into eventually returning to the smartphones business by brand-licensing.

“With the agreement with Microsoft, as is customary, we have this transition and we can’t do smartphones … We have a time limit. In 2016 we can again enter that business,” Nystrom told Reuters.

“It would be crazy not to look at that opportunity. Of course we will look at it.”

Microsoft last week dropped the Nokia name on its latest Lumia 535 smartphone, which runs on its Windows Phone 8 operating system, but still uses the brand for more basic phones.

After the Microsoft sale Nokia was left with its core network equipment and services business plus its smaller HERE mapping and navigation unit and Nokia Technologies, which manages the licensing of its portfolio of patents and develops new products such as the N1 and the Z Launcher.

 

 

NVidia Reveals The Tesla K80 GPU

November 20, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

nVidia has unveiled what it claims is the world’s highest-performing GPU accelerator designed for high performance computing (HPC) applications.

Launched as an addition to the Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform, the Tesla K80 dual GPU accelerator is the most powerful in Nvidia’s line-up and is aimed at accelerating a wide range of data analytics and scientific computing machine learning.

“It combines the world’s fastest GPU accelerators, the widely used CUDA parallel computing model, and a comprehensive ecosystem of software developers, software vendors, and data centre system OEMs,” said Nvidia.

The firm explained how the Tesla K80 delivers almost double the performance and double the memory bandwidth of its predecessor, the Tesla K40 GPU accelerator.

“With 10 times higher performance than today’s fastest CPU, it outperforms CPUs and competing accelerators on hundreds of complex analytics and large, computationally intensive scientific computing applications,” the firm added.

The accelerator boasts an enhanced version of Nvidia GPU Boost technology, which boosts applications by dynamically converting power headroom into the optimal performance enhancement for each individual application.

The GPU was designed to tackle “the most difficult computational challenges”, ranging from astrophysics and genomics to quantum chemistry and data analytics.

It is also optimised for deep learning tasks, a segment of the machine learning field which Nvidia says is the fastest growing.

Featuring two GPUs per board, the Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerator doubles throughput of applications designed to take advantage of multiple GPUs.

It offers 24GB of ultra-fast GDDR5 memory (12GB of memory per GPU) as well as twice the memory of the Tesla K40 GPU, which allows the processing of double-sized datasets.

A 480GBps memory bandwidth offers an increased data throughput so that data scientists can crunch though petabytes of information in half the time compared with the Tesla K10 accelerator.

Nvidia said that the GPU’s 4,992 CUDA parallel processing cores also boost applications by up to 10 times compared with using a CPU alone.

“The Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerators are up to 10 times faster than CPUs when enabling scientific breakthroughs in some of our key applications, and provide a low energy footprint,” said Wolfgang Nagel, director of the Centre for Information Services and HPC at Technische Universität Dresden in Germany.

“Our researchers use the available GPU resources on the Taurus supercomputer extensively to enable a more refined cancer therapy, understand cells by watching them live, and study asteroids as part of ESA’s Rosetta mission.”

The Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerator starts shipping today from server manufacturers including Asus, Bull, Cirrascale, Cray, Dell, Gigabyte, HP, Inspur, Penguin, Quanta, Sugon, Supermicro and Tyan.

The Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerator can also be tried for free on remotely hosted clusters.

Courtesy-TheInq

Microsoft Rolls Out Skype For Web

November 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft announced that it is launching a beta of Skype for the Web, allowing browser-based video chats that don’t require a separate app.

“We’ve made Skype available on computers, mobile phones, TVs and even games consoles,” wrote Jonathan Watson, Skype product marketing manager for Microsoft, in a blog post. “Expanding to different platforms has helped us grow to over 2 billion daily minutes (that’s over 33 million hours) of voice and video calls…. Now, not only can Skype be used on just about any screen you lay your hands on, but you can also enjoy Skype on a browser.”

Skype for Web, which is expected to roll out in the coming weeks, will be available via Internet Explorer, Chrome on Windows, Firefox or Safari.

“If you already use Skype, go to Skype.com and sign in to see all your contacts and latest conversation history,” wrote Watson. “We’re making Skype for Web available to small number of existing and new users to begin with, and gradually rolling out worldwide in the coming months — look out for an invite when you sign in to your Skype account on Skype.com.”

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said this is a good move for Microsoft because it opens Skype up to more users in more places.

“The requirement to have a client means one might not always be able to use Skype,” he said. “For example, if I’m on a shared computer, say in an airport, I can’t use Skype…. Maybe I can’t get on the airport Wi-Fi, but there’s a public Internet terminal or I might want to use a friend’s computer. But with Skype Web, now I can. So now Skype can be pervasive across all devices, not just ones that I happen to own.”

 

 

 

Oracle And SAP Settle Piracy Dispute

November 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has won a limited victory in its long-running lawsuit with rival SAP.

The action was taken in reference to events dating back to 2007, which saw employees of SAP’s TomorrowNow unit accused of illegally downloading Oracle software.

German company TomorrowNow was bought by SAP as a means to undercut Oracle’s internal tech support rates, with the ambition of getting customers to migrate to SAP solutions, reports Reuters.

In 2006, TomorrowNow started the process of undermining its parent’s position, offering cut-price support to users of the Siebel database and CRM.

Oracle was originally awarded $1.3bn back in 2010, but this was adjusted downwards on multiple appeals.

SAP acknowledged that its employees had been in the wrong, but disputed the damages awarded. SAP offered a $306m payment in 2012, but did so more in hope than expectation given its admissions.

Earlier in the year, a federal judge gave Oracle the option to settle for $356.7m or force a retrial, and the company has now decided on the former with a further $2.5m in interest.

“We are thrilled about this landmark recovery and extremely gratified that our efforts to protect innovation and our shareholders’ interests are duly rewarded,” said Oracle’s general counsel Dorian Daley.

“This sends a strong message to those who would prefer to cheat than compete fairly and legally.”

SAP agreed: “We are also pleased that, overall, the courts hearing this case ultimately accepted SAP’s arguments to limit Oracle’s excessive damages claims and that Oracle has finally chosen to end this matter.”

SAP announced a partnership with IBM last month to bring its HANA service to enterprise cloud users.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Sophos’ Cloud Strategy Work?

November 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Sophos is betting that understaffed IT departments will want to use the cloud to deal with cyber attacks. Kris Hagerman, CEO of the computer security company, said SMBs often have small IT departments and may have no one dedicated to full-time security.

Sophos thinks the answer will be a cloud-based management console to work across its entire security portfolio, Hagerman said. The company’s UTM firewall product handles email security, endpoint and network protection, wireless, web filtering and web server defence.

The company has linked its UTM system to its endpoint protection product so the two can share data, which results in better overall security and easier management, Hagerman said. The system has been given the thumbs up from analyst outfit Gartner which said that its “ease of use consistently rates high. The interface contains general guidance on what each feature does, which is useful for SMB operators, who are not all security experts.”

Hagerman said Sophos’ end user and network businesses—it’s two main lines—are growing twice the rate of the market. There isn’t a magic formula to that growth, he said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is nVidia Winning The GPU War?

November 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

According to Jon Peddie Research (JPR), Nvidia has managed to claw back market share from AMD in the second quarter of 2014. JPR found that AMD’s overall unit shipments decreased 7% sequentially, while Intel and Nvidia gained 11.6% and 12.9% respectively. The ‘attach rate’ is almost flat at 155% (up 2%). A total of 32% of PCs tracked last quarter had discrete graphics, while 68% did not.

The PC market grew 6.9% sequentially, but it was down 2.6% year-on-year. Shipments of desktop graphics cards were up 7.8% from last quarter.

“Q3 2014 saw a flattening in tablet sales from the first decline in sales last quarter. The CAGR for total PC graphics from 2014 to 2017 is up to almost 3%. We expect the total shipments of graphics chips in 2017 to be 510 million units. In 2013, 454 million GPUs were shipped and the forecast for 2014 is 468 million,” JPR said.

Shipments of AMD APUs were up 10.5% over the last quarters, but AMD lost 16% in the notebook market. AMD’s discrete GPU shipments were down 19%, but notebook discrete shipments were up 10%. AMD’s overall graphics shipments were down 7%.
Intel’s desktop GPU shipments were stagnant (down 0.3%), but notebook shipments were up by 18.6%.

Nvidia’s desktop discrete shipments were up 24.3% sequentially, while notebook shipments increased 3.5% for an overall increase of 12.9%.

“Year-to-year this quarter AMD’s overall PC shipments decreased 24%, Intel increased 19%, Nvidia decreased 4%, and the others essentially are too small to measure,” the report found.

“Total discrete GPU (desktop and notebook) shipments from the last quarter increased 6.6%, and decreased 7.7% from last year. Sales of discrete GPUs fluctuate due to a variety of factors (timing, memory pricing, etc.), new product introductions, and the influence of integrated graphics. Overall, the trend for discrete GPUs has increased with a CAGR from 2014 to 2017 now of 3%.”

At the moment, an estimated 99% of all Intel chips ship with integrated graphics, compared to 66% of AMD non-server processors.

Courtesy-Fud

Twitter Exploring Creation Of Additional Mobile Apps To Drive Growth

November 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc is exploring the creation of additional mobile applications beyond its core messaging service and ways of making it easier for newbies to use its service, as it competes with Facebook Inc and other social media for smartphone users.

Chief Executive Dick Costolo said Twitter also planned to speed up the pace of changes to its product and to add more functions to its private messaging service.

“I strongly believe private messaging virality is important to our long term growth,” Costolo said, a reference to when online content goes viral or is popularly shared. He noted that some of the new private messaging features would be introduced in the current quarter.

Executives said the company needed to do a better job helping new users understand how to use the service. An upcoming “instant timeline” will quickly provide new users with content without requiring them to search Twitter for individual users to follow.

Twitter, whose main service allows users to broadcast 140-character messages, appeared to be taking a page from rival Facebook, which in recent years has taken the approach of creating individual apps centered on news, for instance, and also recently beefed up its private messaging.

Twitter has been searching for ways to arrest dwindling user engagement and drive growth. It currently counts 284 million users, compared with Facebook’s 1.3 billion.

In October, Twitter reported that timeline views per user, a key measure of engagement, slid 7 percent globally in the third quarter.

 

 

 

Will nVidia Or AMD Ever Produce A 20nm GPU?

November 14, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like we might never see 20nm GPUs from either Nvidia or AMD. From what we know, both companies spent a lot of time looking into the new 20nm manufacturing process and they have decided that it is simply not viable for GPUs.

Yields are not where they are supposed to be and from a business perspective it doesn’t make sense to design and produce chips that would end up with very low yields. At this point we do not expect to see any high-end chips in 20nm, as there are obvious manufacturing obstacles and both companies might even skip the 20nm process altogether and move directly to 16nm FinFET.

16nm FinFET GPUs coming in 2016

We expect 16nm FinFET based GPUs sometime 2016 and this manufacturing process will bring some rather innovative products worthy of an upgrade.

One might ask why Apple doesn’t appear to have problems with its 20nm A8 and A8X chips and we might have a partial answer for you. The Apple A8 chip has to stay under 2.5W TDP, the A8X used in the iPad Air 2 A8X has a maximum TDP of 4.5W.

GPUs such as Maxwell- and Hawaii-based parts used in the Geforce GTX 980 and Radeon R9 290X have TDPs in the 150-250W range and the size of the modern GPU is an order of magnitude bigger than the size of an iPhone SoC.

Die size conundrum

The Apple A8 has a die size of 89mm2 and while we can only assume that the more powerful A8X measures over 100 mm2. Nvidia’s 28nm Maxwell GM204 die measures 398 mm2, which is about four and a half times bigger in terms of sheer die size.

To put things in perspective, in a single 20nm 300mm wafer you can place more than 700 A8 dies, while Nvidia can get about 140 Maxwell 204 chips from a 28nm High K 300 mm wafer and in 20nm manufacturing it would be able to get more, as the individual die would be significantly smaller.

However, these 150-250W chips are completely different than low-power SoCs with TDPs of less than 5W. They are worlds apart and one can assume that with the high performance and clock of discrete GPUs, coupled with their sheer size, result in higher leakage and other issues. Making a chip 4.5 times bigger means that there is much more room for potential issues, leakage and yield problems.

Don’t despair, 28nm still has some life in it

Not all is lost. We all saw that Nvidia pulled off a small miracle with the 28nm Maxwell GM204 chip, as this 5.2 billion transistor chip has a TDP of just 165W.

Its predecessor, the Geforce GTX 780 based on the GK110 chip, ended up with a 250W TDP with 7.08 billion transistors and a massive 561mm2 die size. Maxwell is also faster than Kepler, at least in this iteration, yet they are both 28nm products.

We expect that AMD’s upcoming Fiji GPU to be substantially more efficient than the Hawaii XT chip used in last year’s Radeon R9 290X. However, the new part is coming in 2015.

Courtesy-Fud

Sony Announces PlayStation Vue Roll Out Plans

November 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Network Entertainment International LLC, a unit of Sony Corp of America, rolled out a new cloud-based TV service, PlayStation Vue, expected to be commercially launched during the first quarter of 2015.

The web-based television service allows users to access live TV and on-demand content without a cable or satellite service, the company said.

The service offers catch-up and on-demand TV. It makes the past three days of popular programming available without the need to schedule recordings, the company said.

During the invite-only beta, PlayStation Vue will initially offer around 75 channels per market from major programmers, such as CBS, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom.

PlayStation Vue will begin an invite-only beta preview during November for select PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 owners, with a phased rollout starting in New York followed by Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the company said.

The service will also be available on iPad shortly thereafter, and later on to more Sony and non-Sony devices.

 

 

Apple Finally Offers A Way Out From iMessage

November 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has finally published a tool that lets iPhone owners sever the link to iMessage, iOS’s texting service, when they leave the company’s circle of devices for Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone.

The tool, which allows former owners to disable iMessage even after they’ve disposed of their iPhones, was the first self-service option Apple has offered.

Because iMessage is enabled by default — and is the standard texting service for iOS-to-iOS communication — iPhone owners who had changed smartphones and kept their numbers were not getting texts from other iPhone owners. Apple, unaware that the user had deserted iOS for a rival smartphone ecosystem, was still routing iOS-originating texts to the recipient’s now-unused Message app.

Some called it “iMessage purgatory,” while others referred to it as the “iMessage black hole.”

The problem had existed since 2011, when Apple introduced iMessage and the companion Message app, and was partly technical: Texts sent between iOS devices via iMessage don’t transit a carrier’s SMS (short message service) network, but instead are sent over the Internet.

iMessage’s inability to reroute texts from iOS users — and since 2012′s OS X Mountain Lion, from Mac owners as well — prompted at least one federal lawsuit.

The new tool aims to solve the purgatory problem by letting former iPhone owners, even if they have disposed of the device, route texts to non-Apple smartphones. After entering the phone number for the Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone device, the user must enter the confirmation code sent to the smartphone into the Web form.

 

 

Is TSMC’s 16nm FinFet At Risk?

November 13, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

TSMC’s next generation 16nm process has reached an important milestone – 16nm FinFET Plus (16FF+) is now in risk production.

Needless to say, 16FF+ comes a few quarters after the 16nm rollout, expected in Q1 2015. TSMC hopes to start churning out 50,000 16FF wafers in Q2 2015. As for the Plus process, it is still more than a year away in terms of availability and it will be followed by 10nm, which is expected to materialise in late 2016.

TSMC says the improved 16FF+ process can deliver a 40% performance boost compared to its planar 20nm SoC process (20SoC), with a 50% reduction in power consumption.

“Our successful ramp-up in 20SoC has blazed a trail for 16FF and 16FF+, allowing us to rapidly offer a highly competitive technology to achieve maximum value for customers’ products,” said Mark Liu, president and Co-CEO for TSMC.

“We believe this new process can provide our customers the right balance between performance and cost so they can best meet their design requirements and time-to-market goals.”

The first 16FF+ chips are expected to tape out in late 2015 and TSMC expects the volume ramp will start in mid-2015.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Did Bioware And EA Get Dragon Age Inquisition Right?

November 13, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

One of the inherent risks of a story-heavy IP is that if you bugger up one of the instalments, your audience skips it, falling out of touch with the series’ story arc and disconnecting from its universe. Such was the fear for Dragon Age, a world which impressed in its opening act, but fell away sharply with what felt like a rushed and uncertain part 2. In acknowledging the shortcomings of the second game, Bioware went some way towards reassuring the faithful, but it was undeniable that nothing less than a resounding crescendo could re-establish the land of Tevinter as an RPG setting of the same calibre as the Tamriel of the Elder Scrolls or The Witcher’s Temeria.

There aren’t many teams you’d rather leave such a task in the hands of than Bioware’s and, judging from review scores, that trust would be well-placed. With a metacritic ranging from 84 for Xbox One, 88 on PC and 89 for PS4, EA and Bioware seem to have established the Dragon Age series as the new gen’s first top-class RPG – stealing a march on 2015′s Witcher 3 and whatever Bethesda may be working on as a follow up to Skyrim.

One of the best-scoring reviews comes from Polygon’s Philip Kollar, who focuses on the game’s scope, characters and sheer wealth of content in his 9.5/10 review. Kollar argues that this is the game where the universe really finds its feet, finally fulfilling the promise it had teased in Origins and its sequel by immersing the player in a sequence of events which incorporates a story far bigger than the perspective you’ll have of it. Nonetheless, says Kollar, it’s still in the details that Bioware’s talents shine brightest – weaving engaging and worthwhile characters as threads in a vast tapestry.

 

For all its narrative nuance and political intrigue, Dragon Age: Inquisition isn’t afraid of a good old slimy monster, either.

“But in true BioWare fashion, that broader story often takes a back seat to smaller character conflicts,” he writes. “The Inquisitor pulls together a huge group of followers, including nine playable party members, and each has reams of dialogue conveying a fully developed personality.”

As well as offering chatter and the opportunity for romance, the player’s extended party brings both questing opportunities and advice on dealing with obstacles, says Kollar, making them more than just talking weapons. In fact, he says, that guidance comes in extremely useful in coping with a game which offers gameplay hours well into triple figures.

“Dragon Age: Inquisition is made up of numerous zones that I could teleport in between at will. However, each of those zones is gigantic in and of itself. In the 80 hours I spent playing Inquisition, I only fully completed two zones, and each of them took me around 20 hours of exploration, questing and monster-bashing.”

“In the 80 hours I spent playing Inquisition, I only fully completed two zones, and each of them took me around 20 hours of exploration, questing and monster-bashing”

Philip Kollar, Polygon

In addition, Bioware has added the simplest of tools as an aide to exploring this vast landscape: the jump button. By doing so, says Kollar, the team has made the world feel more whole and believeable, introducing vertical as well as horizontal scale and a much more convincing sense of exploration. Tie that into the sense of being part of such a huge chain of events that new additions such as the ambassador-lead ‘war table’ missions, says Kollar, and you have a classic perfect for the winter evenings.

In broad agreement is Richard Cobbett at Eurogamer, who awards an 8 to Bioware’s efforts. Whilst full of praise for the lush surroundings of Tevinter and the clear improvements made over the last game, Cobbett finds some concerns over the influence which Inquisition seems to have felt from its contemporaries.

“The role-playing too, pretty as it is, didn’t feel like BioWare. There are straight up MMO style quests, like collecting 10 bits of meat, which at least make sense in context – that you’re helping refugees and refugees need food. Others, however, are thrown in with no finesse whatsoever. You find a letter that says, in about as many words, “Girls really dig people who can kill bears!” and then ping, your Quest Journal suddenly thinks you’re interested in bear-hunting. The first hour of a game is a bad, bad time for it to be resorting to this crap.

“The reason for the sack of activities where normally there’d be more involved quests is that Inquisition takes as many cues from the likes of Assassin’s Creed as other RPGs, with its maps a sack of quests, collectibles, secret bits and general things to do.”

That sense of piecemeal progress and scrappy world building disappears around a fifth of the way into the plot, says Cobbett, allowing the more convincing mechanisms of the plot to take hold. “The stakes become meaningful and dramatic,” he writes. “The mysteries become interesting.” Not as convinced as Kollar by the tasks which can be assigned to your plenipotentiaries, nor the combat which is arguably the game’s key activity, Cobbett finds Inquisition’s approach to less bloodthirsty matters of state a refreshing change from the sword and sorcery.

Bioware’s continued commitment to diversity is apparent, with plenty of deviations from the usual path of straight white male.

“While that side provides most of the raw action,” he says of dragon killing and rift-closing, “it’s the adventure and political parts of the game that make Inquisition work – its understanding that a party in Orlais, where the Great Game is played for the highest stakes, should be just as dangerous as anything that happens in a dungeon. After two games of controlling a ragtag bunch of misfits, it’s also interesting to be in a position of genuine power for once.”

Destructoid’s Chris Carter and Joystiq’s Alexander Sliwinski are similarly impressed, offering scores of 8.8/10 and 5/5, respectively.

Carter praises the RPG tree development of the characters as well as their dialogues, noting that “nothing feels tacked on” in a system which offers some of Origins’ depth, tempered by the streamlining in evidence in the sequel. Overall, he says, the experience is “less nuanced than Origins,” but offers a similar perspective on a living world, the fate of which increasingly lies in your hands.

Political intrigue and the raw sense of exploration garner praise from Carter, too, who also has good things to report about the game’s multiplayer mode – a section of the game which sees you take control of an entirely separate character.

“Multiplayer is the cherry on top, because nothing in the campaign feels like it was compromised for its addition”

Chris Carter, Destructoid.

“Multiplayer is the cherry on top, because nothing in the campaign feels like it was compromised for its addition. In essence, it’s a modified horde mode that operates similar to Uncharted 3′s co-op sections. Four players will be able to select from a host of classes, each with their own skills and abilities, and play through a miniature dungeon together.

“It has that horde feel in terms of fighting wave after wave of enemies, but each stage is an adventure complete with multiple paths, loot to gather, and special doors that can only be opened by certain classes. In that sense, it’s not your typical boring ‘kill kill kill’ mode.”

Sliwinski’s assessment also acknowledges the scope and detail achieved here, as well as the palatable way in which the development team is able to introduce such vast levels of information to the player.

“Inquisition’s immensely helpful in-game codex can introduce or refresh players to some of the characters and socio-political rules of the world,” he writes. “With very few exceptions, long-standing characters are properly reintroduced. There isn’t a ‘previously on Dragon Age…’ within the game, though curious players can cover those gaps with the helpful interactive recap at DragonAgeKeep.com.”

Joystiq’s reviewer also appreciates the switch of pace afforded by the inclusion of Orlais as a destination, a place where court politics partially replace the hew and bellow of the battlefield.

“With the inclusion of The Orlesian Empire, Inquisition delves deep into ‘the game,’ which is how those born into or educated in Orlais refer to the machinations of social politics. Orlais had previously been referenced in the Dragon Age series, but now we get to see this twist on 18th century French court intrigue in all its grandeur. Inquisition explores Thedas’ class and racial politics through a variety of missions and interactions with the game’s companions, who have rich ideological diversity.”

In summarising, Sliwinski makes the key point that so many Bioware fans have been waiting to hear since the Drs Zeschuk and Muzyka departed the company they founded: has Bioware maintained its aims, its ambitions and its quality?

“Dragon Age: Inquisition is BioWare’s reaffirmation of what it’s capable of delivering,” reassures Sliwinski. “It’s a gorgeous game on an epic scale. Rich in character and story, it creates a fantasy world with plausible social rules you can get lost in. It makes you feel that you aren’t just exploring a new world, but helping shape it at various levels of society. Inquisition sets the bar for what a blockbuster RPG should be.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Yahoo Adds Another Purchase, Acquires BrightRoll

November 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo has agreed to purchase the video advertising platform BrightRoll for $640 million, in a move that could help to offset declines in its traditional display ad business.

The deal was announced on Tuesday and is one of Yahoo’s largest acquisitions since it bought Tumblr last year for just over $1 billion.

Yahoo already runs video ads on properties like Yahoo Screen, but BrightRoll’s system gives marketers a way to buy ads in real time across thousands of websites and mobile apps.

“Online video advertising is increasingly fragmented across thousands, if not millions, of sites and mobile apps,” the companies said. Advertisers want ways to buy video ads at scale and across many sites in fewer, simpler transactions.

The deal is expected to close by March and will make Yahoo’s video advertising platform the largest in the U.S., they said.

Yahoo has struggled to grow its ad business and compete better against Google and Facebook. It may have made some progress lately, reporting in its earnings call last month that its native ads are doing well on mobile.

It’s been struggling in the area of traditional display ads on the desktop, however. But it contended Tuesday that video ads are the new display advertising.

“Video is display 2.0,” CEO Marissa Mayer said in a post on Tumblr.

“Its what brand advertisers love. Its a format that elegantly and easily transitions from broadcast television to PC to mobile and even to wearables,” she said. “This is why video is a key part of our strategy.”

It can also replace the branded banner ad, according to Mayer.

Digital video advertising is increasing at “an eye-popping rate,” eMarketer said recently, although spending on TV ads still outpaces it.

BrightRoll’s revenues are expected to exceed $100 million this year, Yahoo said. The company expects to retain its team of roughly 400 employees.

 

 

 

Facebook Claims Half Billion People Now Using Its Messenger App

November 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook’s Messenger is now one of the most used mobile messaging apps around the world, with more than 500 million people signing in monthly, according to the social media giant.

“This is an exciting milestone,” said Peter Martinazzi, Facebook’s director of product management, announcing the stat. Facebook’s main app has around 1.35 billion users; Facebook-owned WhatsApp has at least 600 million users. WeChat, owned by China’s Tencent, has at around 438 million users, as of this past August.

Facebook reached its milestone, however, as it angered users along the way. The company began requiring people to download Messenger for mobile chat several months ago, drawing criticism from those who didn’t want to download a separate app for messages. Before that, Messenger had roughly 200 million monthly users, the company previously reported in April.

Facebook’s Messenger is now one of the most used mobile messaging apps in the world, with more than 500 million people logging in monthly, the company said Monday.

“This is an exciting milestone,” said Peter Martinazzi, Facebook’s director of product management, announcing the stat. Facebook’s main app has around 1.35 billion users; Facebook-owned WhatsApp has at least 600 million users. WeChat, owned by China’s Tencent, has at around 438 million users, as of this past August.

Facebook reached its milestone, however, as it angered users along the way. The company began requiring people to download Messenger for mobile chat several months ago, drawing criticism from those who didn’t want to download a separate app for messages. Before that, Messenger had roughly 200 million monthly users, the company previously reported in April.