Tag Archives: Software

Samsung Trender: Messaging on the cheap

Samsung Trender

Samsung Trender

(Credit:
Sprint)

The HTC Evo 3D is one of the most anticipated phones of the year, but it’s not going to be for everyone. If it’s something simple and affordable you’re after, then the Samsung Trender might be more your speed.

Available now from Sprint for $29.99 with a two-year contract, the Trender is a messaging phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a touch screen. The handset comes preloaded with an instant messaging client and provides access to popular e-mail services, including Gmail, Yahoo, Windows Live, and AOL. The Trender also supports threaded text messaging and comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, 3G, a built-in music player, and a microSD expansion slot (supports up to 32GB cards).

Sprint dubs the Samsung Trender as a “fashionable” way to stay in touch, that is, if you consider purple and flower motifs fashionable. If not, you can go with the more classic black-and-sapphire blue model.

Article source: http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-20069274-85.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Affordable single-person rocket launched

Heat 1X

The Heat 1X during a 2010 test.

(Credit:
Thomas Pedersen)

Some machines are perfect for just one person. A Formula 1
car, for example. Or a Heat-1X rocket.

You haven’t heard of the Heat-1X? I feel you might be missing out on something rather special. For this is a rocket built by a Danish nonprofit called Copenhagen Suborbitals. It’s a rocket built for one.

You might be wondering if something of this sort might ever get off the ground.

So below I present video evidence of a test launch of the Heat-1X. The New Scientist tells me it cost about $69,000 to build, which is cheerily less than what it takes to buy one of the larger BMWs.

The economics of this project might sound a trifle idealistic. Indeed, last year, a launch went somewhat awry when a hairdryer malfunctioned. This would be a hairdryer that was being used to provide heat inside the rocket.

However, Friday presented us with empirical evidence that the Heat-1X could really fly.

The creators seemed overjoyed. They talked of “going supersonic.” They talked of history. However, the test flight wasn’t entirely perfect.

There seems to have been a little snag with the parachutes, which seemed a little like the sheets with which prisoners hang themselves.

Moreover, the rocket didn’t go too far into the sky. The New Scientist reports that it managed to go only 2 kilometers, which would be 14 kilometers less than was hoped.

However, Kristian von Bengtson of Copenhagen Suborbitals told the New Scientist that he used his remote control to shut down the rocket, as it began to show signs of veering away from the designated test area.

You might wonder what position a human would take up inside this thing.

Well, unlike one of those NASA contraptions, in which the astronauts are on their backs, the idea here is that the one-man flyer would be standing up all the way. Which, I imagine, might feel like the ultimate Elevator to Heaven.

One can surely only applaud this attempt to send ordinary human beings into space on a budget. With the world’s economies wafting into further storms, this surely gives hope to all of those normal mortals who are still capable of dreaming.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20068986-71/affordable-single-person-rocket-launched/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Platformer arcade games for iOS

Once game consoles hit their stride in the ’80s and ’90s, the platform game became enormously popular. Especially with the release of the now legendary Mario games, just about every developer rushed to produce a game that offered that perfect mix of running, jumping, and collecting items for points, all while exploring a strange and often fantastical world.

This week’s collection of apps includes modern twists on the old-school platform games many of us remember. The first lets you explore deep mines for treasure; the second will bring back memories of precision-heavy, rage-inducing platform classics; and the last offers up cartoonlike graphics as you explore a dreamlike fantasy world.

Miner Disturbance (99 cents) is a fun platformer mining game that will immediately remind you of arcade classic Dig Dug, but it offers much more. The object of the game is to complete goals as you dig downward into each mine. Some goals will require that you collect a certain number of minerals, and others will only require that you’ve dug to a specific depth.

Miner Disturbance

You’ll need to dig around fossils and relics to claim them for points.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

But as you dig your way deeper, you’ll face baddies like moles, bats, and other underground dwellers that you’ll be able to defeat by swinging your pick. As you go farther into the game, you’ll face water-filled caverns forcing you to go up for air, and hot lava that may mean certain death. All this adds up to plenty of variation on the digging mechanic, and remains exciting for even after several days of playing.

Miner Disturbance lets you navigate from mine to mine by tapping on circled locations on the main map or, if you have collected cash rewards, lets you buy better mining equipment at the above-ground store. The controls are a bit tough to get used to at the start (as any touch-screen directional systems tend to be), but quickly become second nature as you dig deeper into the mines.

Along with the main map, which features several mines, all with different goals, Miner Disturbance includes a second snowy map where you’ll face different challenges and a Volcano mine where you can compete for the high score with other players online. Overall, if you’re looking for a game with a little more depth than Dig Dug and some light RPG elements, Miner Disturbance is a steal at 99 cents.

League of Evil

In this frustratingly hard game, there seems to be spikes everywhere.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

League of Evil (99 cents) is like an iOS remake of the popular and recent console and desktop game Super Meat Boy. For those who haven’t played Super Meat Boy, it’s a platform game that has become well-known (dare we say, “legendary”) for being extremely difficult. League of Evil is probably not quite as hard as the game it emulates, but you’ll find the same rage-inducing effect when you’ve restarted some of the later levels for the 20th time.

Like other platform games, League of Evil gives you directional controls for movement on the lower left part of the screen and buttons for jump and attack on the lower right. Your goals are to complete a level in the shortest amount of time possible, find and retrieve a hidden briefcase, and take out the scientist at the end of the level. The first several levels are not too bad, but once you get into the second tier of levels (54 levels total across three tiers), your old-school arcade skills will definitely be put to the test.

League of Evil is not for those who are new to platform games; even the most skilled gamers will be challenged by this title. But if you like the challenge of getting your run through a level exactly right and are willing to try the same level again and again for that feeling of finally succeeding, we highly recommend this game.

Storm in a Teacup

Pilot your teacup to great heights as you try to find sugar cubes and other items.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Strom in a Teacup (99 cents) is a new platformer that lets you explore a dreamlike world, offering tons of unique levels and plenty of challenge despite its cutesie feel. You play as Storm, a little man who rides in a Teacup collecting sugar cubes and other items as you navigate your way past obstacles in more than 40 levels of gameplay.

The interface consists of left and right directional buttons on the lower left, and a jump button on the lower right. To complete a level, you need only get to the end (a red and white target on the ground), but you’ll also want to try to gather all the sugar cubes and other bonus items to truly finish a level. A tutorial will get you acclimated with all the controls, but in my experience, one of the moves described doesn’t work as advertised. The tutorial suggests double-tapping the jump button to get higher, but when we tried it, double-tapping didn’t change the jump height whatsoever. Even with this flaw, we were able to get most items, but we hope the developer will fix this in coming updates because certain items remained out of our reach.

On first glance, Storm in a Teacup doesn’t seem like it should be taken seriously. With the rainbow colors, cutesie enemies, and cartoonlike graphics, you might dismiss the game thinking it was made for kids. But even after only a few levels, we realized the game offers much more than cute graphics; trying to complete levels and gather all the bonus items can be very challenging, and some of the obstacles require pinpoint precision.

Overall, Storm in a Teacup is a fun and challenging platformer with great-looking graphics and numerous levels to explore. If you’re looking for a unique twist on the platform genre, check out this game.

Got a better platformer game than the ones listed? Let us all know in the comments!

Article source: http://download.cnet.com/8301-2007_4-20068770-12.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

EA launches Origin, takes aim at Steam

Electronic Arts is doubling down on the digital-gaming space with the launch of a new direct-to-consumer platform, called Origin.

Launching later today, Origin will allow gamers to purchase and download over 150 games directly to their PCs. So far, the content on the site is limited to games from EA “and its partners,” the company said in a statement today. In the coming months, EA says that it will offer more games, including the highly anticipated Battlefield 3, FIFA 12, Madden NFL 12, and Mass Effect 3.

“Origin is a game service with two fundamental features,” David DeMartini, senior vice president of Global Online at EA, said in a statement. “It’s a download service for the very best content from EA and its partners. It also offers a social function which, over time, will connect a player’s profile with friends lists and a cross-platform feed that shows what your friends are playing and where.”

That social element comes through Origin’s desktop application. After downloading it, users can connect with friends and find out what games others are playing. Users of the desktop app will also be able to download games to their PCs.

Related links
? CNET’s full coverage of the E3 Expo
? Sony previews NGP’s key features
? Evolution of the console: Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii

Origin, which will go live at 9 a.m. PT today, is EA’s answer to Steam, a service that offers a wide selection of content. According to Steam’s Web site, it now has more than 1,100 games available from a slew of developers for users to buy and play on a
Mac or PC. Steam currently offers content from EA, including The Sims 3 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam, among others.

As of this writing, Steam has nearly 2.5 million concurrent users on its service. The service had more than 3 million concurrent users earlier this week.

EA’s decision to jump into the direct-to-consumer market for PC games makes sense. Back in September, the NPD Group revealed that during the first six months of 2010, PC game downloads outstripped physical PC game sales by 3 million units. Moreover, digital downloads accounted for 43 percent of overall game revenue.

Going mobile
But EA isn’t planning to stop at just PC games. The company also said today that it will be offering Origin to mobile gamers, allowing them to play Scrabble, among other titles, from their devices. After it launches, Battlefield 3 will also be available through Origin’s mobile offering.

“In the future, mobile gamers will also be able to see what games their friends are playing, as well as compare high scores and share what’s fun,” the company said in a statement discussing further mobile Origin features.

EA’s Origin launch will likely be just one small part of a much broader strategy on the company’s part to transition its operation away from the traditional packaged-goods model. Last month, EA CEO John Riccitiello said that his plans over the long-term involve making EA a digitally focused company.

“Over the coming years, we will transform EA from a packaged goods company to a fully integrated digital entertainment company,” Riccitiello told investors during an earnings call last month. “We’re transforming EA to a games-as-a-service model.”

That strategy seems to be working. During its last fiscal year ended March 31, EA saw its digital-games revenue grow by 46 percent year over year to more than $800 million. The company is currently forecasting that revenue to grow once again to over $1 billion this fiscal year.

EA said today that exclusive content for its titles will be made available at Origin.com during the company’s press conference that the E3 Expo on Monday.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20068598-17/ea-launches-origin-takes-aim-at-steam/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Six tips for surviving the Sony breach

(Credit:
iStockPhoto)

It happened again–hackers at LulzSecurity exposed Sony BMG’s vulnerabilities and took hold of at least 1,000,000 “unencrypted users, unencrypted admin accounts, government and military passwords,” according to the organization’s Twitter status.

People at risk include those who have signed up for Sony, or Sony-related brands and sweepstakes, like SonyPictures.com, TheYoungAndTheRestless.com. 

If you’re one of these people, your personal data–e-mail address, home address, phone number, and date of birth–might be compromised. Use these tips to survive the breach:

1. Beware of fraudulent e-mails. Now that your e-mail address(es) has been exposed, you’re vulnerable to phishing attacks. Look out for e-mails from seemingly legitimate sites (like Sony) asking you for personal information like passwords or bank account information. Be careful when clicking links or opening attachments in e-mails, even if they appear to come from someone familiar or trusted.

2. Use a different e-mail for “junk.” If you’re using your primary e-mail when signing up for things like sweepstakes, create a “junk” e-mail address and use that instead. Some of the Sony accounts exposed were those associated with giveaways like “The Summer of Restless Beauty Instant Win.”

3. Look out for fraudulent calls. Watch out for illegitimate calls–your phone number, accompanied by your address, gives criminals enough information to impersonate a representative from a company like Sony. So if you get a call claiming you won the Sony-Autotrader sweepstakes, think twice before accepting it.

4. Use a unique password for every account. Although it’s convenient to use the same password for all online accounts, your security is on the line. Create a unique password for every account and store them in a secure service like LastPass

5. Change your security questions. Your e-mail address, along with the other data exposed in the breaches, could be used to reset your account passwords. Change your security questions immediately, and consider creating your own unique question if the service gives you the option.

6. Don’t give up information in the first place. Before joining a service or entering a sweepstakes, consider the necessity of the account and the consequences of signing up. If you choose to sign up, check to see which fields are required, as oftentimes your home address and phone number are optional. 

Senior writer Elinor Mills contributed to this story. 

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20068449-1/six-tips-for-surviving-the-sony-breach/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Nintendo 3DS gets first major update

Nintendo is upping the ante on the 3DS.

Nintendo is upping the ante on the 3DS.

(Credit:
Nintendo)

Nintendo next week plans to launch the first major update to its 3DS portable.

Owners of the 3DS will be able to download the free update on June 6, the company announced today. When they do so, they will find a new Web browser on the platform, as well as Nintendo’s eShop.

The device’s browser allows for regular Web surfing, but also supports 3D content. So, if a user browses to a page that has 3D content, it can be viewed from the portable.

Nintendo’s eShop is a content-downloading service, featuring applications, product information, and game trailers. According to Nintendo, users will also find “original 3D software, classic games that have been remastered in 3D, called 3D Classics, Game Boy and Game Boy Color Virtual Console games, and more than 350 Nintendo DSiWare games.” Nintendo’s eShop will be updated each Thursday with new content.

Nintendo’s update comes just a little over a month after CEO Satoru Iwata discussed with investors his plans to improve the 3DS sales pitch. During its last fiscal year ended, March 31, Nintendo sold 3.61 million 3DS units, missing its target of 4 million 3DS units sold before the end of the period. Obviously disappointed, Iwata pointed to the 3DS’ functionality, which allows gamers to play titles and watch content in 3D without the need for special glasses, as the problem.

“The value of 3D images without the need for special glasses is hard to be understood through the existing media,” Iwata said to investors. “However, we have found that people cannot feel it just by trying out a device, rather, some might even misestimate it when experiencing the images in an improper fashion. This makes it more important to give people more opportunities for appropriate experiences of glassless 3D images.”

Iwata told investors that he planned to unveil several new features on the 3DS to make it a more appealing option to consumers. The company’s eShop and Web browser were part of that. He also said that Nintendo plans to launch a “3D video distribution service.”

In today’s press release announcing eShop, the game company mentioned that video service, saying that it would be launching on the 3DS “in the near feature.” Nintendo said that the video platform would feature 3D movie trailers, music videos, and comedy clips.

Whether or not all those updates will actually get consumers to buy a 3DS remains to be seen. As Iwata pointed out in April, internal research has shown that “many people feel that they ‘want’ and ‘want to buy’ Nintendo 3DS [but] not that many people believe ‘now is the time to buy it.'”

To further sweeten the pot to get current users to download the update and to get new customers to finally buy the 3DS, Nintendo is throwing in a free download of Nintendo Entertainment System classic ExciteBike. The game has been remastered in 3D for the 3DS, and it will be available to those who update their portable between June 6 and July 7.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20068216-17.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave