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It’s funny what you get used to (how to recover health in FPS)

By on March 22, 2010

Dusting off an old game, Call of Duty Allied Offensive, made me realize how used to recent games I’ve become.

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Isn’t it funny what you get used to? That’s probably true for most things in life but in this article I’m talking about how things work in video games.

Just the other day I was on my PC, well, iMac running Boot Camp, but who cares? Anyway, I was checking my Steam games and decided to download a few that I’ve got through some bundle purchases but never downloaded. Call of Duty was a game I happened to have downloaded already but not the expansion United Offensive. After United Offensive (UO) had downloaded I fired it up and began to play it.

Now here comes the funny part. No, not funny ha ha, more like funny strange. I kept dying all the time even though I was playing on normal difficulty.

I thought to myself that although I’m no FPS magician I get around these types of games a fair bit and I shouldn’t be dying that fast. I mean, I kept running to cover all the time so I should be okay.

It took me a while but then it dawned on me. In UO you loose health when you get shot, of course, but then you have to find first aid packs to patch you up with. It’s not like in most games I’m used to from recent times where the screen turns red or blood splatters across it and you have to run to cover where you recover after some time of waiting.

Listen, I’m not saying one system is worse or better than the other, in fact I think some form of combination is probably best, but it’s strange that I’ve gotten so used to something different lately. I don’t think I’ve played those old games for a year or more now so going back to it took some getting used to.

There were also a lot of other things I was surprised at playing an old game like that, both good and bad, but I’ll leave that for another time.


Nokia C5, the el cheapo smartphone

By on March 4, 2010

The Nokia C5 is based on Symbian S60 3rd edition with HSDPA connectivity and a host of messaging and social networking features built in for just AED 700.

No, not el cheapo as in cheap and crappy necessarily but el cheapo as in cheap and very affordable. The just unveiled Nokia C5 will be available in the second quarter of 2010 (including the MEA market) at an expected retail price of just under AED 700.

That doesn’t seem like a dirt-cheap price, you’re thinking, but let’s look at the specs then:

  • S60 3rd edition
  • A host of messaging and social networking features built in
  • HSDPA connectivity (maximum speeds of up to 10.2 Mbps) and HSUPA (uploads of up to 2Mbps)
  • 2.2-inch display
  • 3.2-megapixel camera
  • Free walk and drive navigation courtesy of Ovi Maps
  • Update your Facebook status easily and share your location with Ovi Maps 3.0
  • Nokia Messaging enables you to keep in touch on IM using Google Talk or Windows Live Messenger
  • Storage is the mircoSD variety with support for up to 16GB cards
  • Built in stereo FM radio and 3.5mm AV connector
  • Stereo IHF speaker
  • Measuring just over 12mm thin and 46mm across (and 112mm high)
  • Battery life: up to 12 hours talktime and 26 days standby between charges

That’s quite a bit of stuff packed into a small and cheap package. Sure, it doesn’t have the glorious multi-touch screen of the iPhone and it doesn’t have the snappy performance of the Nexus One but what it does have will make this a must-have phone for thousands of users around the region, I predict. At the AED 700 price, smartphone functionality and especially the social networking and communication functionality now come into range of a whole new customer segment, people who could not previously imagine buying a smartphone because of the price. We will see an army of new smartphone owners take to the streets and IM, Twitter, Facebook, and more on the go, just as a minority of us have been doing already with our iPhones an other smartphones.

And with this announcement by Nokia you can be sure that all the other usual suspects in mobile- and smartphones will follow suite with competitive devices soon.


The Funny State of PR Agencies Practices in Dubai

By on February 2, 2010

It saddens me to talk about the practices that some of the local PR agencies indulge in, however, it needs to be said.

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Let me start off by saying that I’m not the kind of person that ever goes on a ranting session, however, certain things need to be brought to light. A few years back, I wrote an article on the state of PR agencies in Dubai and how unprofessional some of them can be. The good part is that many of these agencies have improved over time. On the other end, it saddens me to talk about the practices that others indulge in and I will bring one such event to light today.

Promax is the name of HP’s current PR agency. A representative from Promax called me on Sunday to invite me to an HP Editor’s event scheduled for Tuesday- covering the 2009 industry analysis, as well as what is in-store for 2010. Short notice but she asked me if I had gotten an email invitation on the event earlier. I hadn’t but that is no big deal, as I have had emails with attachments ending up in the SPAM folder. I checked my calender and conformed to her that I will be back in Dubai and available to attend the event.

On Monday, I get a call back from this person informing me that the event was being canceled- apologizing for the inconvenience. Again, no big deal as I have attended events with very low turn outs and I thought that maybe not enough Editors confirmed so HP might be calling the event off. Now imagine my surprise when, on Tuesday, I saw a tweet from a fellow colleague saying “Just got done with the HP event.”

Was I furious? Yes. I immediately called my contact at HP and after speaking to a colleague of hers, she confirmed that the event had indeed taken place. She was equally shocked at what had happened and apologized quite a few times. She said that she will escalate the matter and find out exactly what happened. I’ll let her do that but if I was HP and had this happened without me knowing about it, I would fire Promax as my agency right away.

Lying to an Editor about the cancellation of an event for whatever reasons, I would think, would be a cardinal sin for any PR agency. These are the people that help your client get exposure and going down the route that Promax did is a pretty good way of signing your own death warrant. For whatever reasons Promax did not want me attending the event, I believe that telling me the truth would have been a far better choice for their reputation and future.

UPDATE: As Expected, I received quite a few phone calls from Promax and as you know it, every story has two sides. As per Promax, there were two HP events scheduled for that day one of which I was invited to. However, the event I was supposedly invited to was postponed- I confirmed this from HP directly as well.

Where the mistake happened is that Promax sent me an invitation to the event I was not supposed to attend yet called me to inform about the cancellation of the event that I should have originally been sent the invitation for. Confusing? Yes. A bit funny as well now that I think about it.

Judging from the tone of all the people that called me from Promax today, I feel that this was a genuine mix up and not necessarily something intentional.


iDisappointed in the iPad

By on January 28, 2010

In its current stage, the iPad is a let-down. There is so much more potential in a device like this.

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Granted that nothing Steve Jobs could’ve unveiled at Apple’s event last night would’ve matched the hype that was created before the iPad was launched, I still cannot understand why Apple released the iPad in the form it did. As per Steve Jobs, its a device thats supposed to sit somewhere in between the iPhone and your notebook- a device we commonly call a netbook in the PC world.

I agree that the netbook doesn’t necessarily offer the best experience in computing but at least it does allow me to do pretty much anything I can from my notebook. And most of the sluggishness on a netbook is because of the O/S. Try Moblin and you’ll suddenly realize that your netbook feels so much more usable. Coming to the iPad, pardon my language but WTF is with the name. An iPad?

Getting past the name, here are some of the things that I feel Apple could’ve done better. Lets start with the hardware. My biggest gripe is the lack of an SD card slot or a USB port. If iPad is supposed to offer you a casual computing experience than you should have Facebook working on it and one of the most used features of Facebook is uploading your photos to it. Yes, I know Apple is releasing a Digital Camera connectivity whatever but how hard would it have been to put an SD slot to transfer pictures.

Secondly, the lack on a front face camera totally destroys the chances of me video chatting with my kids at home while I’m on a business trip. Lastly, the screen resolution of 1024×768 (786.5k pixels) is just shy of 720p HD capability of 1280×720 (921.5k pixels). That means that you’re going to have to re-encode all your movies separatly for your iMac, your AppleTV, your iPad and your iPhone- not very Apple like.

Now lets get to the software. The Home screen looks like its straight out of the iPhone which works great on a 3.5″ display but looks horribly wasted on a 9.7″ screen. Just four icons placed horizontally with a tiny clock on top is not a UI I’d expect out of Apple. The lack of flash on such a device is also unforgivable- and lets not blame Adobe for it. They have, time and again, shown interest but Apple has conveniently brushed them off. And last but certainly not the least, what about this little thing called multitasking?

After all this bitching, what I’m going to say next will probably make you think of me as a fanboy. I do think the iPad has plenty of potential. I also think that what Apple unveiled yesterday is far from what the iPad is capable of. And I think, other than the hardware deficiencies, everything else will come in a firmware update. 

My guess is that the iPhone/iPad OS4.0 is going to be the game changer. Yes, I still believe in Apple. And at $500, I will probably end up getting one.


The Apple Tablet Cometh

By on January 19, 2010

On the 27th of January, Apple will reveal their latest creation. Chances are that you will see an iTablet and we look at what it could possibly offer

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In a little over a week, Apple has invited members of the press to show off its “latest creation.” Chances are that Apple will reveal the iTablet at this event. Chances are that Apple will revolutionize the Tablet segment just like they revolutionized the Smartphone segment when they released the iPhone a few years back.

There is a lot of speculation as to what this Tablet will be capable of. If you look at the App Store and the recent addition of magazines to it such as GQ, you might get a pretty good idea what this Tablet will be capable of. I downloaded GQ on my iPhone and although I enjoyed flipping through the first few pages, I realized that I need a much bigger screen to fully appreciate it.

It also makes good sense financially for both Apple and the publisher- in this case Conde Nast. The cover price for the paper edition of GQ is roughly US$3.00. Through subscriptions, you can get it down to a $1. The digital version requires lesser resources (paper, printing etc.) so technically, it Conde Nast should be able to sell it at an even lower price. Yet, the AppStore lists it $2.99 at the moment which puts $1 in Apple’s pockets and $2 in Conde Nast’s.

So its pretty much a given that this Tablet will act as a newsreader. Another potential feature would be to watch videos on it. Again, the AppStore started selling higher definition videos some time back and the iPhone’s screen is a bit too small to watch anything longer than a music video. Web browsing experience should bring the Tablet on par with your notebook and the Tablet definitely needs to be much thinner and lighter along with offering a much higher battery life to chuck your Macbook Air for browsing.

So if I was to guess, I would say the iTablet or whatever apple calls it will be an extremely thin and light device with a screen size between 10 to 13 inches. I would pick 11 inches with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels to allow 720p videos played back at their native resolution. It should be a full multi-touch device lacking any physical keyboard and will turn on and off instantly like the iPhone.

I cant really say what the interface will look like as unlike the iPhone, you will have plenty of resources to run multiple things at one time. Maybe it will look like OS X’s desktop or the dashboard or maybe it wont. What I do know is that it will look incredible as the user-interface is one thing that Apple is REALLY good at.

We’ll find out all the details next Wednesday. It will be a very long week.


Will the Google Phone index your voice calls?

By on December 22, 2009

Google’s CEO made it clear that anything you publish on the web can be used for whatever purposes. Are you willing to buy your next mobile phone from the same company?

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Yes, I know we’ve been talking about Google for the past few weeks but I did have a horrible thought cross my mind a couple of days back and thought I’d share with you.

Now unless you have been living under a rock, you must have heard of Google’s supposed phone called Nexus One. It was our product of the week last week and even though the phone has been manufactured by HTC, signs point to Google selling the phone directly as it has been designed according to the specs set by Google.

Everybody is quite excited about this upcoming phone- it certainly hits all the right spots from a tech point of view. What makes me scared about is the fact that it is coming from Google. The same company who’s CEO was quoted saying “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

That comment, as I explained last week, tries to justify Google retaining any data they have indexed and turn it over to authorities if need be. Now imagine if this technology extends into your mobile phone indexing every word of every conversation you have.

I’ll leave you with that thought for this week.


Google hogging the limelight

By on December 15, 2009

For the past couple of weeks, it seems that Google has been in the news for good and bad reasons.

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Google seems to be dominating the news of late. Last week, I spoke about their real time search and this week the internet is buzzing about their forthcoming Google Phone- which is also our product of the week. Besides the unofficial Smartphone, Google has also introduced their URL shortening services- commonly used if you post links on twitter.

On the not-so-great side, the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt made a comment that should be taken seriously. He said “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” What exactly does that mean? That means that Search Engines like Google can and will retain any data they have indexed and turn it over to authorities if need be. Should you be scared? I would say yes- everyone has some skeletons in their closet right? :P

Besides Google, the three reviews that we’ve focused on are all somewhat media-related, gearing to an article I am working on about setting up a Media Center. I’ve been using Media Centers for a good five years now and its impressive to see how much they’ve evolved.

Lastly, I’m sure you’ve seen the competitions we’ve started- lots more goodies coming up in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned.


Google’s Real Time Search

By on December 8, 2009

Just be careful of who you’re seen having dinner with because by the time you finish, you might already be at the top of Google’s Search Engines

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When Google started out, they indexed pages once a month. With their announcement of “Real Time Search” yesterday, its done in minutes. Google has joined hands with Twitter which is the latest trend in publishing and collecting news. Even we tweet almost every post published across our entire network of four websites.

So what does this mean for the you and me? Basically, when you’re searching Google for, lets say, a product, you’ll come to know of the latest reviews, announcements and opinions on it. For example, you’ll find out, in real time, which mobile phone is Sony Ericsson recalling this week or what Tiger Woods is upto.

Combine that with trends such as #DIFF or avatar and you have a wealth of information available at your finger tips that lets you know whats hot at this moment. Its complicated but its also incredibly fun. Just be careful of who you’re seen having dinner with because by the time you finish, you might already be at the top of Google’s Search Engines :)


Augmented Reality: A Nightmare in Disguise?

By on November 25, 2009

The easiest way to describe Augmented Reality is how Iron Man looks at things. A camera takes the actual footage of the area around you and on top of that, adds information or graphics.

My recent interview with the CEO of NVIDIA got me thinking about Augmented Reality (AR)- a future where he thinks we’re headed. For those of you that don’t know, the easiest way to describe Augmented Reality is how Iron Man looks at things. A camera takes the actual footage of the area around you and on top of that, adds information or graphics.

For example, my daughter loves this app on my iPhone called “Fairy Trails” where the iPhone’s camera displays the surrounding area on the screen and on top of that, fairies fly around that you need to tap on to. So I literally have fairies flying in my back yard.

fairy_trails

That sounds like fun doesn’t it. Now imagine taking it a few years in the future where your device is connected to a high-speed network downloading continuos information on not just the buildings or objects in front of you but also people around you. I could simply point my iPhone towards a cute girl in the mall and get any publicly available details on her such as her name, her birthday or even her list of friends. Pretty creepy huh? Better watch out what you put on those Social Networking sites.


Week in Tech: Curve 8520 reviewed, Bold 9700 revealed, Xperia X10 announced.

By on November 4, 2009

Lots happened this week in the world of Smartphones most of which was good. Find out by clicking here.

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It was (almost) a pretty good week for Smartphone followers. We reviewed the new Curve 8520 which, I think, is an awesome device for someone looking to try out the Smartphone market. On the other end of the spectrum, Blackberry announced their Bold 9700 Smartphone which is their flagship device and one every Blackberry user will want.

Sony Ericsson on the other hand revealed their Xperia X10 with the “Rachel” UI based off Android. From what I read, the device could very well shape up to the THE device for the Android Platform. While we’re on Android, Motorola released their DRIOD Smartphone to decent reviews around the web as well.

Continuing with Smartphones, here is one reason you wouldn’t want to Jailbreak your iPhone- a dutch hacker is actively seeking out Jailbroken iPhones and while he’s not causing any harm yet, it does go on to show the possibility of a vulnerability. The fact that he’s charging 5 Euros to “fix” the vulnerability is a separate story altogether.


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