Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Planet of the Apps

July 12th, 2012 No comments

We all know that apps are taking over our lives, but to what extent?

As we all know, there is now an app for everything, whether you use an iPhone, Android or tablet device. 3G connections have changed the way we live, and mobile broadband has meant that apps are at our fingertips wherever we are in the world.

Who would have thought that Android would be catching up iOS with the number of apps it has available? And who would have thought that 6.5 million of us downloaded Angry Birds on Christmas Day?

We’re celebrating the Planet of the Apps by sharing this data on our app habits…

Planet of the Apps

Planet of the Apps

Choosing the best broadband package for gaming

May 23rd, 2012 No comments

Having the right kind of broadband package is especially important to online gamers. Many spend huge amounts of money on their computer systems and the latest graphics cards but these are next to useless if their internet connection is not up to the job.

For this reason, it’s important to do some research to find the best broadband deals available for gamers. There are five main considerations to take into account.

Download Speeds
The download speed required for gaming varies depending on the type of game being played. Most online role playing games only require an actual download speed of around 2 Mb but some first-person shooters ideally need double that.

As well as improving the gaming experience, having a good download speed also gives a more robust connection to the gaming server as well as minimising latency and ping times.

For ADSL broadband users, the actual download speed achievable is entirely dependent on geographical location and distance from the nearest telephone exchange, as well as the quality of the BT wiring between those points. The fastest download speeds available are via a fibre-optic connection, but this is not yet available everywhere in the UK.

Download Limits
As with speed, games vary in the amount of data they use during play. In addition, some will require the downloading of updates and additional play features as the game progresses. Some of the very detailed maps available for popular first-person shooters can consist of up to 1GB of data.

Download allowances do vary a good deal between broadband providers. Even those who offer packages with ‘unlimited downloads’ sometimes operate a fair-usage policy so it is important to read their terms and conditions carefully.

Contention Ratio
Each ADSL user will have a contention ratio applied to their connection. The usual ratio for the average home ADSL broadband connection is 50:1. Theoretically, this means that 50 people could be using that connection at any one time and that only 1/50th of the bandwidth could be available, which is not a good scenario for gamers.

In reality, this hardly ever happens but it should still be a consideration when choosing a provider as some do offer contention ratios much lower than 50:1, which reduces the possibility of a poor connection at peak usage times during the day.

It is no good having a super-fast connection if it is not reliable. A drop-out at a critical moment in a game is not just annoying because if it is a persistent problem it can also mean being excluded from the game server for being too slow.

Most modern PCs and gaming consoles have wireless connectivity but a wireless network is less reliable than one which uses an Ethernet cable. Most serious gamers invest in the best quality Ethernet cable available as this offers the smoothest and least interruptive gaming experience.

In Summary
Serious gamers need to take their choice of broadband package very seriously if all of their needs and wants are to be fulfilled. The many options and packages on offer should, therefore, be investigated very carefully.

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Chess Set for Tesla

July 24th, 2009 1 comment

I’m not much of a chess player. Thanks to my dad I know how the pieces move and I know the rules. Beyond that I’m a pretty hopeless case, but Paul Fryer’s vacuum tube chess set, dubbed Chess Set For Tesla (in honor of the eccentric and enigmatic inventor Nikola Tesla) could possibly inspire me to maybe learn a little bit more about this interesting and intricate game.

Chess set for tesla 1
chess set for tesla 2

The set has electricity running through the board to light up the red and blue tubes, and the tubes actually maintain power for a short time when they are unplugged from the board as you move them. From what I can tell in the photographs each piece has an identifying symbol on the top to indicate which piece you are moving, since apparently only the King and Queen are of unique shapes.

Paul Fryer himself seems to be an interesting character as well. He’s gone from being an electropop singer to transvestite DJ to poet to contemporary artist. After only a few minutes research I discovered most of his art to involve light and electricity. He’s even published a book of poetry with artwork by the controversial Damien Hirst (whose $50 million diamond skull is probably one of my favorite pieces ever). He’s worth a look if you are interested even remotely in contemporary art.

Sadely it’s unlikely that anyone other than the few people Fryer made this custom set for will ever get a chance to use it, or purchase one for themselves. This is art after all, and not a commercial endeavor. Which is really too bad as I know my friend The Neon Cowboy would simply keel over if he ever got to own a chess set that went along with his Tesla tattoo.

Via Wired’s Gadget Lab

Categories: Games, science Tags: , , ,

Finger Drums

June 17th, 2009 No comments
Finger Drums

Finger Drums

Turn your drumming dreams into a reality with this touch sensitive Finger Drum Kit. Complete with a bass drum kick and cymbal, this desktop drum kit has both a record and a freestyle function.
The perfect gift for any drummer, talented or otherwise, the Finger Drum Kit is a must-have.
Not only does it provide a great way to exercise your fingers, you can turn yourself into a superstar drummer without leaving your desk. You could even play games with your work buds, friends and family by asking them to name the tune. Prepare to be swooned over by adoring fans, followed by groupies, and emails to flood in from world class booking agents… OK, a guy can dream, can’t he?

I just love playing the drums. Unfortunately, it is probably the least portable instrument out there. What if we can just miniaturize the drum set. Well, my wish has come true. the Finger Drum Kit lets you rock out with the touch of your fingers. It comes complete with a bass drum kick, cymbal, and toms. You can also record your finger beats and also features a freestyle function.

The Finger Drums also give your fingers excercise burning tons of calories (ok, maybe not that much). Become a rockstar at your office. Too bad it doesn’t come with Finger Groupies. Hmmm…


Distracting Sick Children

June 4th, 2009 1 comment

 One of my guilty pleasures is medical shows.  Medical dramas really.  And I’m wondering just how long it will take for one of these gadgets to show up on one of them. 


 It’s called the PediSedate Headset.  It allows a child to play a Gameboy or listen to a portable CD player (?!?!) while simultaneously delivering sedative gas (like nitrous oxide).  Thereby distracting the child from the fact that he/she is being sedated and undergoing medical treatment.

While I think the idea is quite good (even though I have yet to have kids), I think maybe they need to update it to accept an iPod and a PSP.  Seriously, who carries around a CD player?  Do they even make Discmans anymore?  This product’s marketing department needs to get with it.

Regardless, I know I hated going to the hospital when I was a kid.  Fortunately it didn’t happen much.  And given my proclivity towards sci-fi I probably would have dug this thing.  It looks like some kind of underwater breathing apparatus ala James Cameron.

Come to think of it, if I could get a tank of nitrous I could probably think of a few adults that would be into this thing;-)

For details check out the PediSedate website

REVIEW: EA Active brings the fit to you

June 3rd, 2009 No comments

eaaMy girlfriend just got her hands on the new EA Active, a fitness-based game for the Wii that’s intended to provide you a guided workout in the comfort and privacy of your home.  She set it up tonight and gave it the college try.  I got to watch her do her first workout.  Sorry, she wouldn’t let me video it and post it to YouTube (I believe pain of death was mentioned).

The setup is typical Wii simplicity.  You start by creating a fitness profile.  The fitness profile allows you to track progress over time.  Part of the profile creation process is building an avatar that resembles your current body type.  Age, sex, weight, height, etc are all specified in your avatar.

Once you set up EA Active, you can choose from a number of workout options, including preset workout routines.  EA is currently pushing their 30 Day Challenge, which is built into the game.  Since she got the unit for free as part of a nationwide promo to push the 30 Day Challenge, that’s what she’s going through.  The game lets you pick an intensity level for each workout day and they recommend two workout days followed by a rest day.

The game comes with a thigh band and a resistance band.  The thigh band has a pocket that holds the nunchuck to allow the game to track certain activities.  (Hint – the nunchuck goes in upside down).  The resistance band is basically a strap of rubber and a couple of canvas handles that you knot the band into.  If you really get into this, you’re going to probably want to buy heavier bands.

Since it was late when she started, she chose the low intensity workout.  Activities included walking/running, squats, cardio boxing, inline skating, side lunges, shoulder raises, bicep curls, and upright rows.  With the 30 Day Challenge, you get an onscreen trainer to coach and motivate you.  I gotta say that I was ready to kill the trainer after just a few minutes and I wasn’t even doing the exercises.  It would be nice if the trainer’s motivation level could be tuned or even turned off.

Initial impressions of the workout were OK.  Her fitness level is pretty high, so the workout was hardly challenging.  But she’s going to be trying the higher intensity workouts in upcoming days so she’ll have a better idea of how much “work” is involved in the workout.  Also, she felt the amount of guidance concerning proper form and technique could be improved.

I’ll update this post as her 30 Day Challenge continues.

EA Active