Thursday, September 15, 2016

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What Makes A Great Game: A Gentle Reminder for Programmers

Video game joystick

It's easy to get lost in all the details of building a great video or computer game - so easy in fact, that we can forget the parts of a game that make them fun to play. The following serves as a gentle reminder of what prompts players to play games in the first place. Refer to this reminder in the event that you get bogged down or distracted with confusing C++ syntax, or lines and lines of Visual Basic statements and DLL structures.

  1. Remember the player is the main character. Here's a secret between you and me: People play games to gain a sense of control. If you can manage to program your game in a way that puts the player in control, then you've already won half the battle. This doesn't mean to suggest that the game should be easy. It simply means that when a gamer runs home from school or drives home from work to play a video game, she wants to feel the control that she didn't have during the hours between nine and five. The outcome of a game - whether it's a win or a loss - should never be random, but the result of a good, controlled game play instead.

  2. KISS. Remember that acronym? It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. We all know that programming a game is hard business, but believe us when we say we don't want to be reminded of it. The difficulty of programming a game should never be part of the game play so when possible, make the game easy to start, easy to navigate, and of course, easy to play. We're not asking for pre-school strategy here, but on the other hand, we don't want to feel as dumb as a pre-schooler either. Forget the hundred page manual. Nobody except the truly obsessed is going to read it anyway. Build your game for the average Joe and everyone will be your fan.

  3. Add plenty of action. And add lots of it too. The more action you add to your game, the more attention players will pay attention to it. And the more that players pay attention to your game, the more addictive your game gets. For every action that a player's character makes, have the game react and then prompt the player for more.

  4. Make the story a good one. Nothing is worse than playing a game only to wonder what you're doing and why. Purpose is and always has been a human obsession. But without it, we're left wandering... in the darkness... wondering bizarre things like how the house would look in a coat of bright pink paint. Don't give your players the opportunity to waste time like that. Give them a mission and make sure your game reminds them what the mission is at opportune times and why they must complete it.

  5. Give us eye candy. But make it relevant. The graphics in a game shouldn't be distracting, they should make our eyeballs glaze over with satisfaction upon seeing them, and then salivate for more. Graphics should contain clues and entice us further and further into the game until we've beaten the thing.

  6. Make it real. Fantasy games are okay, but what makes them cool is the fact that they're realistic. It's hard to get into something that isn't familiar or that there's no way we could ever experience. But if you can implement some reality into your games, players will appreciate it and relate to it on a whole new respectable level.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

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HTC Teases Phone Announcement For 20th September

HTC 10 Launch
The HTC 10, despite being a well built flagship and a worthy contender, could not capture the throne in the flagship wars. The competition was just ahead of the curve, and hence, the 10 had to be content with the few runner up positions.

But if HTC’s latest teasers are any indication, the company wants to get ahead of the curve edge. HTC took to instagram to announce a phone event dated for the 20th of September.

A video posted by HTC (@htc) on

The only hints that the teaser video gives is that the phone will come with a fingerprint sensor placed on the back. The design also vaguely resembles that of the upcoming Nexus Pixel, but that may be because we are itching to hear more about it. The Pixel phones are up for reveal on the 4th of October; and with Google being heavy in its influence on the hardware, HTC is unlikely to reveal a phone that would not even bear its branding on the hardware.

So what could it be? We’re still in speculation territory, so we’ll refrain from assumptions (however, let us know your theory). HTC’s tagline sure has caught our attention, but it remains vague and open to interpretation. So for now, we wait for HTC to take off the wraps and surprise us.

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Google's Pixel Launcher Leak Hints At The End Of The Nexus Brand

A leaked APK of what’s dubbed the Pixel Launcher has appeared, taking the place of a previously leaked add-on called the Nexus Launcher.
The Pixel Launcher gives a more distinguished look with some new design tweaks
The Pixel Launcher gives a more distinguished look with some new design tweaks.
The new Pixel Launcher reworks the home screen’s performance in a few noticeable ways: It replaces the omnipresent Google search bar with a pull-out tab that takes you into Google Now. There’s also a date widget that, for now at least, you can’t replace.

There are a few other aesthetic changes, like a slide-up entry into the app drawer, which gives you room for five apps and replaces the All apps button. Additionally, you’ll find a new design for folders, with the cascade of one behind another replaced with a snapshot of up to four different icons.

The APK is obviously pre-release software, so it’s bound to have bugs and other hiccups. You can download it here at your own risk.
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Chevy Bolt, Chevrolet's Electric Car Ranges 238 Miles, To Sell For $37,000

On Tuesday, Chevy fired a shot across Tesla's bow when it announced that the Bolt electric vehicle was rated at 238 miles of range by the EPA.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt Electric Car
2017 Chevrolet Bolt Electric Car
Chevrolet says that the new electric-powered Bolt, scheduled to go on sale later this year, can be driven 238 miles before needing to be recharged. There are valid reasons why the Bolt, with its impressive driving range, could truly electrify the market as the battery-powered car of the masses.

The Bolt isn’t the first electric car, of course, nor is Chevy’s proclamation the first time an automaker has said its affordable electric vehicle will make serious inroads with mainstream consumers. In early 2013, Nissan cut the base price of the Leaf by $6,400, and company executives said they were “confident this will represent a tipping point” in terms of boosting sales for the purely electric-powered car. Nissan went on to sell 22,610 Leafs in 2013, more than double the total the year before. In 2014, Nissan sold a record-high 30,200 Leafs. But that’s only a tiny fraction of the 1.2 million cars the automaker sold that year, and it’s roughly one-tenth the number of Nissan Altimas that drivers bought in the U.S.

The forthcoming Chevy Bolt will meet both the criteria of an affordable sticker price and a reasonably long driving range which makes an electric car appeal to the masses. The Bolt is starting production in October and will hit dealerships before the end of the year, priced at $37,500 before federal credits of $7,500.

Perhaps most importantly for Chevy, the Bolt will hit the market at least one year before the much-hyped Tesla Model 3 can be purchased. Tesla already has cars that can be driven 200 miles or more on battery power, but they sell for $70,000 and up. The Model 3 is Tesla’s play for the masses, with a sticker price of around $35,000 before incentives. Chevy’s earlier entry into the marketplace is an opportunity to grab middle-of-the-road electric car adopters before Tesla has the chance.

Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer told USA Today that he considers the Bolt to be “the first ‘real’ electric car in the history of the automobile,” because previously, electric cars were either too expensive or lacked the driving range to offer broad appeal. “Now the Bolt arrives with a real-world range and real-world price,” Brauer said. “This combination doesn’t guarantee success, but it will finally put EV technology to a real-world test in appealing to real-world, mainstream consumers.”

All about the Chevy Bolt battery pack

Chevy Bolt's charge port
The Bolt's charge port
It turns out that the Bolt is built around a 60 kWh pack.

"The battery pack itself has been engineered specifically to play an integral role in the structure of the Bolt EV," vehicle performance engineer Chris Twarog said. "Not only does the battery contain a unique chemistry that delivers excellent performance, the structure itself contributes to torsional stiffness, efficient packaging and safety."
He then explained that there were four key factors that helped Chevy push the envelope with the Bolt's range: a clean-sheet design; lightweighting; battery technology; and improved regenerative braking, a process that allows EVs to use braking to reclaim charge and extend range.

"Rather than start from an existing architecture, the team started with a clean slate in order to maximize efficiency, passenger room and power," Twarog said.

He added that they " looked for ways to reduce mass" — weight is all-important when dealing with EV range. According to Twarog, the use of aluminum for some components saved 58 pounds, while using the battery pack as a structural component allowed engineers to have the power supply perform two jobs.

" We’ve incorporated advanced battery cell chemistry," he said. Twarog noted that Chevy learned a lot about heating and cooling batteries from the Volt hybrid and the Spark EV, and that the Bolt use a battery chemistry that requires a smaller active-cooling system than other electric cars.

Finally, he said that Chevy took a new approach to regenerative breaking, incorporating a "low" driving mode that "allows drivers to recapture energy and send it back to the battery."

Watch the Chevy Bolt Below:

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WhatsApp Adds New Speak Feature: Drawings And Stickers Coming Soon

WhatsApp welcome screen
In the Android beta version of WhatsApp released in the Play Store's beta channel, users were treated to new features such as the ability to draw on pictures as well as paste stickers — functionalities that have been defining characteristics of Snapchat. What is even more interesting is that the changes such as the emojis and the typography, bear strong resemblance with those found in Snapchat.

The system is quite straightforward. For instance, when using WhatsApp's camera functionality to capture an image, one can crop the photo or tweak it by adding stickers, texts, drawing or even annotations before sending it as a message.

Aside from the stickers and drawing, other notable features of the update as indicated in the app's change log include the ability to share or forward messages and send it to multiple conversations at the same time. There are also changes to the app's interface when recording videos as well as new features that enhance the camera's capability when used in low-light conditions.

Voice mail

iOS and Android can send and receive voicemail to each other if they fail to take a call using Whatsapp VOIP calls.
WhatsApp chat iPhone

Whatsapp Speak

Called 'Speak, a feature has been spotted on iPhone while tapping on a chat message. The 'Speak' option, which reads out the text in the message aloud, appears with other options like Reply, Forward, Copy, Delete and Message.

The update is still in the beta stage, and the features could still change or never be implemented at all in the app's official version. However, the fact remains that they are being developed and tested, so the changes have a big chance of coming to users' devices soon.

What do you think of these new features? Drop by our comments section below and let us know.
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New HPE Aruba Mobile First Platform Could Boost IoT Security, Improve UX

Aruba, a part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, has launched the Aruba Mobile First Platform, which will be available with its associate enhancements from the fourth quarter of 2016.
Aruba Mobile First Platform Architecture
Picture credit: Aruba
HPE’s Aruba has announced a software platform designed to make it easier for companies to flexibly add mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) services to their networks using application programming interfaces (APIs).

The announcement is the latest development in a broader shift towards Networking-as-a-Service (NaaS), where the functions carried out by a network are determined by software that can be modified according to the organisation’s changing needs.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

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Micro Focus Swoops On HP Software Unit In £6.6bn Deal

UK tech firm Micro Focus is buying the software business of a division of Hewlett-Packard for $8.8bn (£6.6bn).

Hewlett Packard Enterprise boss Meg Whitman
Micro Focus struck the deal with Hewlett Packard Enterprise boss Meg Whitman
The deal makes Micro Focus one of the UK's biggest tech companies, with total annual revenues of $4.5bn (£3.4bn).

It is acquiring assets from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), including former UK tech champion Autonomy which HP bought in an ill-fated deal in 2011.

Micro Focus was promoted to the FTSE 100 last week, replacing ARM after it was bought by Japan's Softbank.

A string of acquisitions has turned Micro Focus, based in Berkshire, England, from being a relatively small player to being worth over £5bn, with revenues doubling in 2015.

Shares in Micro Focus closed 14.5% higher at £22.38 after jumping as much as 21%, making it the biggest riser on the FTSE 100.

The rise and rise of Micro Focus

Kevin Loosemore, Micro Focus executive chairman, said the deal marked a significant milestone for the company.
Micro Focus executive chairman Kevin Loosemore
Micro Focus executive chairman Kevin Loosemore sees a "rare opportunity" in the HP deal
Mr Loosemore said he approached Hewlett Packard Enterprise in February about a deal and was not put off by the market turbulence that followed the Brexit vote in the UK.

HPE has more than 50,000 customers including many of the biggest US companies.

Analysis: Dominic O'Connell, Today business presenter

We are accustomed to headlines bemoaning another UK industrial champion falling to a foreign predator. This morning the tide, if only briefly, is flowing the other way.

Micro Focus, a fast-growing technology firm based in Newbury, Berkshire, is merging with a division of the original Silicon Valley titan, Hewlett-Packard.

Although the combination will have a slim majority of shareholders from the US company, this is a British takeover. The new Micro Focus will keep its listing on the London Stock Exchange, and the management will be British.

The new entity should have a stock market value north of £10bn - about twice the market cap of Sainsburys.

While it is tempting to see this as a swallow that might herald a golden summer of takeovers by ambitious British companies, it has more to do with the weakness of an ageing tech giant rather than a resurgence of appetite on this side of the Atlantic.

Hewlett-Packard is rightly credited with having founded Silicon Valley, nurturing a string of high-tech entrepreneurs and technology companies that went on to conquer the world.

In 1968, it put the first personal computer on sale - a snip at $5,000. Only two years ago it still employed 210,000 people; after today's deal, that number falls to 50,000.


For Hewlett-Packard it is part of a dramatic downsizing from having been a giant of the computer industry with annual revenues of more than $100bn.

Under chief executive Meg Whitman the group has been stripped down to what she believes is its core strengths.

HPE was one part of Hewlett-Packard which split into two last year. The other part, HP Inc, focuses on computers and printers.

The software spinoff follows HPE's announcement of the sale of its business services division to CSC for $8.5bn.

"We are taking another important step in achieving the vision of creating a faster-growing, higher-margin, stronger cash flow company well positioned for our customers and for the future," said Ms Whitman.

'A good thing'

The sale is also being seen as a way for Hewlett-Packard to finally shed itself of its ill-fated purchase of Autonomy.

After the takeover, Hewlett-Packard wrote off about three-quarters of Autonomy's value, claiming that "accounting misrepresentations" had led it to overpay for the firm.

Autonomy denied that, and a slew of legal action then followed.

Its founder, Mike Lynch, told the Financial Times that the deal "was a good thing".

"They can't really screw it up any more than it was. Hopefully there are still some gems in there," he told the paper.

Originally posted on BBC News.
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