1 Feb 2014

Microsoft’s Super Bowl "Empowering" Ads

With Super Bowl XLVIII just hours away, Microsoft is airing its first national Super Bowl advert on Sunday. The company while searching for a new CEO, has also found the time to create a series of "empowering" videos that mark a fresh marketing approach for the company. It’s easy to think of Microsoft as a corporate giant that has was late to the mobile and tablets party, but the reality is that millions of people still rely on its vast array of software products for their daily work. That’s the message that Microsoft is trying to hammer home during the Super Bowl this year.

Microsoft’s Super Bowl ads this year will run for 60 seconds during Sunday’s game, showing people using the company's software for the “greater good”. The software maker isn't revealing its exact Super Bowl ad until tomorrow, but it’s clear from the new "empowering" series of videos that it will include appearances from various people that have used Microsoft’s software across medicine, education, and everyday life.

It’s an unusually emotional ad for Microsoft, as the company has traditionally opted to market its products front and center. It's also a welcome move away from controversial campaigns such as Scroogled.

The ads, include the story of former professional football player Steve Gleason who was diagnosed with neuro-muscular disease ALS in 2011, and the ad shows how he uses a Surface along with Tobii’s eye tracking hardware to interact with friends and family.

A Swedish surgeon, who uses Kinect to perform surgeries in a better manner.

Classrooms across the world connecting to each other via Skype.

Hal Pasko, a 97 year old man who continued his love for art using Microsoft Paint.

Braylon O'Neill was born missing the tibia and fibula bones in both of his legs. Now, he's making strides, pushing limits, and playing sports because of Microsoft technology.

Sarah Churman also stars in one of Microsoft’s "empowering" ads. Churman was born deaf, but in 2011 a hearing implant allowed her to hear her children properly following years of having to use traditional hearing aids.

Combined together, Microsoft’s set of "empowering" ads are incredibly moving, that tugs at the heartstrings. Good work Microsoft!

Source: Microsoft YouTube

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24 Jan 2014

Roman Birg - Founder of Android Open Kang Project Joins Cyanogen Inc.

The Android custom ROM development community, is a small tight group. Shaking things up was the announcement of Roman Birg, founder and leader of the Android Open Kang Project (better known as AOKP) joining the newly established Cyanogen Inc., the company that's now formally developing and promoting the CyanogenMod ROM.

Birg's role at Cyanogen is still unclear, although many believe it has come in effect of the company advertising job openings for software engineers. Birg says that he will continue to work on the AOKP ROM while he's employed by Cyanogen Inc.

AOKP was formed post Android 4.0 nearly 2 years back, but built a very strong following because of the great amount of user friendly customization and tweaking built upon the stock Android experience.  With more than 3.5 million installations, AOKP has become the second most popular version of Android developed and released by the community, currently supporting over 60 official devices.

While CyanogenMod is the leader among custom ROM users, it's still a tiny minority of Android as a whole, and the path that the new corporation takes will be one to watch. It will be interesting to see where Cyanogen Inc. goes with input from the founder of its biggest custom ROM competitor.

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Source: AOKP Blog

12 Jan 2014

RUMOUR: Microsoft Planning to Release Windows 9 in April 2015

Let’s face it, Windows 8 was not the grand success the people at Microsoft were hoping for. What people forgot was that it was the first step towards Microsoft’s vision of a hybrid tablet and desktop operating system and it is still an evolving UI/OS (Remember the Android 1.6, 2.0 stock UI?).

Although the company is focused on continued development on Windows 8.1, with an “Windows 8.1 - Update 1” on the cards, Windows watcher Paul Thurrott is reporting that the company has started planning on a release of Windows 9, code-named "Threshold" sometime around April 2015. Allegedly, Microsoft will unveil its ideas/plans/vision for Windows 9 at the company’s Build 2014 developer conference in April later this year.

The move to Windows9 could help Microsoft to move away from the criticism that Windows 8 received. It’s currently unknown what type of changes will be made in Windows 9, but a "Metro 2.0" is being reported, which will focus on improving Microsoft’s new app world and tiles. One of the major things that will supposedly come in between now and April 2015 is a full return of the Start Menu, although it is more likely that Microsoft will include this change in the Update for Windows 8.1 rather than in an entirely new operating system next year.

BUILD 2014 Will Set the Vision for Windows 9

Like it did with Windows 8, Microsoft will use three major milestone development points for Windows 9, but it’s not clear how many of them will be released to the public during the development period.

Windows certainly needs public excitement, more Windows 8-style apps, and in house innovation if it is to succeed with its vision of a hybrid tablet and desktop operating system. Hopefully Build 2014 and Windows 9 will provide the company just that.

One thing is clear, while there will be further modifications to Windows 8.1 in the coming updates, Windows 9 looks to be the next major release.

Source: WinSuperSite

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10 Jan 2014

Most Anticipated Video Games of 2014

2013 saw two new amazing consoles land in the market. 2014 will see developers using the new tools and extra power to come out with games, with even better graphics. I pick the games, I’m looking forward to most.

1. Titanfall

This is by far one of the most anticipated games of 2014. A FPS with giant robots, what more could any man want?! The game is an online- multiplayer only game. Judging by the trailer and initial response, the game is action packed, with abilities to run on walls and hijack mechs. If you are still not convinced, the fact that the game won over 60 awards at its E3 2013 reveal, including a record-breaking six E3 Critics Awards should convince to put it on your must buy list.

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Launch Date: 14 March 2014

2. Destiny

This game has been creating hype for quite some time now. Initially expected to come out in 2013 (It was included in our last year’s list too), the game is now coming in September. With BUNGIE behind the game (The studio that brought us Halo 1-3) along with Activision, expectations are bound to be high.

Players create a custom Guardian avatar, choosing from powerful hunters, warlocks, and titans, and set out to defend the last city on Earth using a combination of weapons and magic. Will bungie once again reinvent FPS? Time will tell.

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS 3, PS4
Launch Date: 9 September 2014

3. Watch Dogs

This is the game I have been waiting for, originally scheduled for a November 2013 release, the game has been pushed to mid-2014. Forget iOS vs Android. In Watch Dogs’ future, everyone is jacked into a centralized operating system, which means that the game’s hacker protagonist (Aiden Pearce) has access to the digital lives of the entire city. The game blends on-foot stealth and action gameplay with driving (more than 65 vehicles are available!), allowing players to work their way through the overarching storyline any way they wish. And multiplayer allows players to hack into other player's games and toy with them in different ways.

Being a fan of the CBS hit show, Person of Interest, the similar theme excites me a lot. While the TV show is set in New York City and this game takes place in Chicago. Moreover, with the recent NSA spying revelations, Watch Dogs launches at an interesting time.

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS 3, PS4
Launch Date: 30 June 2014

4. South Park: The Stick of Truth

This game has been delayed more time than any other, hopefully the final release will occur soon for what may be the first worthwhile South Park game ever made – and potentially even a decent role-playing game. The game supposedly turns the foul-mouthed boys into wizards, warriors and auctoritas.

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Launch Date: 7 March 2014

5. Dark Souls II

The original game took the world by surprise in 2012, making the sequel highly anticipated. The game like its predecessor, is an action role-playing open world video game. The story will revolve around a cursed character trying to find a cure for their agony, and will be emotional and involved in the fashion of the original Demon's Souls's story. Miyazaki (who served as director on Demon's Souls and Dark Souls) stated there will be no direct connection between Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. The game will use its own dedicated multiplayer servers.

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Launch Date: 14 March 2014

6. Game of Thrones

Very little is known about this game, but with Telltale behind the game expectations are sky high. The game developer is trying to take the same approach that it did with ‘The Walking Dead, which saw the game earn 90 Game of the Year awards in 2012 and apply it to Game of Thrones. The game makers are working with HBO to deliver an episodic adventure that follows George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy book series.

While not much has been revealed about this just-announced game, it's expected to deliver virtual seasons of interactivity as players explore Westeros and the seven noble families vying for control of the Iron Throne and the Seven Kingdoms. A key component of most Telltale's games are the interpersonal relationships among characters and the hard decisions that need to be made. Game of Thrones is the perfect suit for this type of gameplay. Highly Excited!

Platform: TBA
Launch Date: TBA 2014

7. Dragon Age: Inquisition

I’m a huge fan of the Dragon Age series and consider it to be one of the best RPG’s to play. Bioware has supposedly worked on the criticism that Dragon Age II received, and promised a much wider scope and much more developed role-playing elements, while blending elements from the highly successful first game.The hopes of the fans are high on this one!

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS 3, PS4
Launch Date: Q3 2014

8. Metal Gear Solid V

The Metal Gear franchise is one of which no one can have had enough. Every sequel introduces fundamentally new concepts/ideas while killing a few things you loved from the prequels. Metal Gear Solid V's addition to the franchise, will be an open world map design and a much less linear structure.

The game is supposedly so big, that Konami is splitting the release into two parts. A "prologue" called Ground Zeroes will be released in March. The full game, The Phantom Pain, will be released... at some point, later.

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS 3, PS4
Launch Date: 18 March and TBA 2014.

9. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Developer CD Projekt has created the third game in its bestselling franchise exclusively for PC and next-gen consoles. This game is a must for Skyrim fans, gamers who love massive RPG’s with nonlinear story lines.

But what will ultimately draw gamers is the deep and complex nature of the game's storyline. Gamers will be challenged to make hard choices throughout the epic adventure as the world evolves based on each decision that the protagonist, Geralt. There will also be plenty of vicious monsters to slay, inspired by European ghost stories and Celtic legend. A dynamic weather system and day/night cycle impacts the gameplay, as some creatures only come out in the dark. This game promises to deliver the first truly next-gen fantasy role-playing experience.

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Launch Date: Q2 2014

10. Broken Age

This one is for the point and click adventure fans! With the legendry game designer Tim Schafer (the man behind Monkey Island, Grim Fandago, Full Throttle) returning, the hopes are high for this game. The Kickstarter fund gives a  good idea of the hopes behind this game, the developers set out with a $400,000 goal but with thousands of people backing, managed to raise a whooping $3,336,371! This game better be good..

The first episode is out in January though and the second in May.

Platform: PC, iOS, Android
Launch Date: 14 January 2014 and 14 May 2014

11. X

How time has changed the dynamics. Nintendo basically was forced by the fans to release the gorgeous, fun RPG Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii, and now its follow-up is one of the most anticipated titles for Wii U. Even if X is as good as its predecessor, it still probably won't sell many copies. But, at least it'll give content-starved Wii U owners the kind of lengthy single-player adventure that the system has sorely lacked thus far.

Platform: Wii U
Launch Date: TBA 2014

12. inFAMOUS: Second Sons

One of the few PS4 exclusive that caught the eye of the gamers at the PS4 launch. From the gameplay trailer I saw released by PlayStation, it looks incredibly amazing. The graphics are awesome, you can jump from a building and use your fire hands to lift you upwards and the animation when you kill people is freakin cool!!!

Platform: PS4
Launch Date: 21 March 2014

13. The Division

A disease has wreaked havoc in the US, triggering a complete social breakdown. It’s up to you now to sort it out. This online multiple tactical shooter + role playing game looks to be one of the most exciting prospects of the year. One of the most graphically impressive next gen games at last year’s E3, this new Tom Clancy third person shooter is also extremely ambitious in terms of its online features and smart device connectivity.

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Launch Date: Q4 2014

14. Dying Light

Zombies were the fad of 2012-13. But it’s getting a bit boring now. Still, Techland has given the zombie apocalypse horror game another go and the result looks pretty entertaining.

In this fast paced game, you play a man who tries to survive against the zombies that grow aggressive and dangerous everyday especially at night, you have to scavenge and hunt for tools to make weapons and fight them.

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS 3, PS4
Launch Date: TBA 2014

15. Thief

Thief is an upcoming stealth action-adventure game that focuses on Garrett, a master thief. This is the fourth game in the series. The reason it's on the list is because you can do all sorts of things that is awesome. Firstly, you can pickpocket someone and turn into smoke, secondly, you can be as free as you like in the game, you choose your own paths and you choose your fate in the game. Sadly, the game only has a campaign mode and no multiplayer mode.

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS 3, PS4
Launch Date: 25 February 2014

Honorable Mentions:

1. The Walking Dead Season 2 and the Wolf Among Us by Telltale.
2. The Elder Scrolls Online (4 February 2013) on PC, Xbox One and PS4.
3. The Order: 1886 on PS4.
4. Sunset Overdrive on Xbox One.
5. The Witness on PS4 and PC, by Jonathan Blow (creator of Braid)

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