LEGO Minifigures Online Game is in Beta

LEGO Minifigures Online Beta logoLooking for an adventure video game that has been designed with children in mind? The LEGO Minifigures Online game is now in beta. The game is made by Funcom, who also are makers of The Secret World (and other games).

The LEGO Minifigures online game involves collecting all the minifigures that are represented in the game and taking them on grand adventures. There is a Pirate World, a Space World, and a Medieval World.

Players choose a minifigure as their playable character. Each one has special abilities. Players can interact with the environment in the game by smashing walls and building machines. It is an adventure type of game that includes a story line that is geared for children.

It is an online game, and parents are encouraged to play it with their children. LEGO Minifigures Online is a Free-to-Play game. As you may have expected, it includes optional in game purchases. However, it promises that the game can be played completely without requiring players (or their parents, to be more accurate) to spend real world money on it. The game requires children who are under the age of 13 to have to rely on their parents for in-game purchases.

Memberships can be purchased for 1 month, 6 months, or 12 months (and are priced at $7.99, $39.99 and $69.99). The more you spend, the more “extras” it unlocks. It should be noted that you cannot use the chat function unless you have paid for a membership.

Right now, the game is in beta, which means that things within it in could change. Those who would like to give the game a try must download it and be using a Windows PC. The Funcom website says the game will launch for PC, iOS and Android during the second half of 2014.

One big advantage of having your kids play with virtual LEGOs, instead of physical ones, is obvious. You greatly reduce your risk of stepping on a LEGO that your kids left on the floor!

New Media Show #51 Global Podcasting Trends

In this episode Rob and Todd talk about the latest announcements by Apple. We also cover the latest news on new podcast companies launching. We review some global podcasting trends and ponder why the Android community is not embracing podcasting.

Contact the show: Rob or Todd @ newmediashow.com

Support our Show Sponsor:
30% off your new order @ GoDaddy: gnc30
1.49 .com New or Renewal geek149
$1.00 / mo WordPress Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: press4
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Subscribe: Audio | Video | Mobile Video | iTunes

Play

Riot Games Announces Queue Dodge

Riot Games LogoRiot Games, maker of League of Legends, is doing something new. It doesn’t take place inside a video game, either. Queue Dodge offers employees “cash to quit”.

New hires at Riot Games will have the ability to quit their jobs and get some money for doing so. They can take advantage of Queue Dodge anytime within their first 60 days. Those that choose to quit will be paid up to 10% of their annual salary (up to $25,000). Right now, this offer is only available for newly hired employees of Riot Games that are in North America.

It seems like a strange move. Why would a company put a potential employee through what they describe as a “rigorous interview process” and pay if they quit within the first 60 days? It sounds counterintuitive. Wouldn’t that encourage people to quit?

The answer appears to be directly connected to “the unique flavor” of their culture. In short, Riot Games wants to ensure that people stay working for them because they are a good fit, and not just for the paycheck. They want to provide a “well-lit, safe exit path” for workers who self-identify as a mismatch. I think it is meant to be an open, positive, way to end an employment situation.

I can see where Queue Dodge would give newly hired employees the financial flexibility to opt-out of working for Riot Games without having to worry about how they will pay their bills while they are looking for another job. It can take some of the stress out of being unemployed.

On the other hand, I cannot help but wonder if the existence of Queue Dodge might influence current employees to be less accepting of new hires who are a little different than themselves. The pessimist in me wonders if Queue Dodge would function as a way to pressure people to quit.

GNC #957 Venture Capitalist Pay 1.2M for Yo!

I swear to god some VC have no common sense.. 1.2 million for an App that just says Yo! Means these VC minds are so warped they have lost touch with society. I also update you on my Transformation.

Download the Audio Show File
[Read more…]

Play

Archos Helium 50 4G Smartphone Review

Archos LogoFrench firm Archos has been in the smartphone business since 2013 with a range of over 10 models but the phones are still relatively rare outside of their home country. At this year’s CES, Archos announced the Helium 45 and 50, affordable 4G smartphones with 4.5″ and 5″ screens respectively and Archos have kindly sent me a Helium 50 for review. Let’s take a look.

The Helium 50 doesn’t stray far from the classic smartphone form factor: it’s a rectangle with curved corners and there’s nothing really to make it stand out from the crowd – let’s say it could do with a bit more Gallic flair. Dimensions are 145 x 7.5 x 9 mm (5.7” x 2.8” x 0.35”) and weighs in at 160g. The build quality feels good and the rear shell clips on firmly.

Front View

No major surprises – head phone socket on top, volume rocker on left, power on the right and microUSB on the bottom right for charging. Oddly for a new smartphone model, the buttons at the bottom are fixed – they’re not the expected soft buttons – and one of them is a menu button too, which I believe is deprecated on the newer versions of Android.

Rear View

Although a slim phone regardless, the camera isn’t quite flush with the back.

Archos 50 Camera

Perhaps slightly of note is that when you peek inside, between the microSD card slot and the SIM slot, there’s an empty slot that could potentially take a second SIM.

Inside

On paper, the Archos 50 is running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) on a 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm ARM processor, partnered with an Adreno GPU driving a 5” 1280 x 720 (HD) screen with IPS. There’s 1 GB RAM, 8GB storage plus a microSD slot under the back cover. Not cutting edge specs by any means. Running Geekbench 3, the Helium 50 scores 341 in the Single-Core and 1156 in the Multi-Core test (cf 502 and 1499 for the Nexus 4). Disappointingly, although advertised as an 8 GB phone only 4 GB seems to be available to the user. Clearly a microSD should be an early purchase for new owners.

Archos 50 Specs Benchmarks

Initially, the smartphone’s performance seems good. Nova Launcher animations are smooth and games like Shardlands and Iron Man 3 look detailed and fluid with the Adreno GPU earning its keep. Unfortunately after using the phone for a time the lack of RAM becomes noticeable: while running apps work fine, returning to a previous app often requires the app to restart rather than smoothly switching back.

Shardlands

While talking about games, Ingress shows up the Helium’s GPS. While it’s accurate enough once settled, the GPS can be slow to update and sometimes stalls in one place for 20-odd seconds. It’s probably not so much of an issue with less demanding uses but in Ingress, fast and accurate GPS is critical to hacking and taking a portal.

On the plus side, Android seems to be mostly stock Jelly Bean with a few minor tweaks and some custom Archos apps for music, videos, FM radio and file management. The apps are good and in their favour is that they have built-in access to SMB shares and UPnP servers, which is a definite “thumbs up” from me. If interested, the Video Player is available from Google Play to try out on other phones.

Media Menu Media Player

Moving on to the camera, it has the most comprehensive range of settings that I’ve seen on any camera app – there are no less than three separate settings menus with several options that I didn’t have a clue about – “Max longshot NUM” anyone?! Despite the plethora of settings photographs were a little disappointing with the default settings. Even on “Super fine”, photos were a little grainy.

LionZoom In

Finally, in terms of connectivity, 4G is nippy and watching films via Netflix or BBC’s iPlayer is feasible over 4G (but beware the volume caps!) There’s no doubt that this is the future and I can see that this will appeal to commuters on public transport who want to take advantage of the spare time. Obviously speed and 4G availability will be dependent on your mobile operator but I was pleased with EE’s performance when I was able to get a 4G signal.

In conclusion, I used the Archos Helium 50 4G as my daily phone for about a month and it works: it works fine. All the apps run, it has a big screen, it plays music and it’s well-built, but there’s no doubt that the uninspiring design and low RAM drop it down the leaderboard in comparison with other Android smartphones. On the flip side, the Helium 50 is a 4G smartphone with a 5″ screen, priced at only £199 off-contract which is attractive, especially when compared to other 4G phones at twice the price.

Thanks to Archos for the loan of the Helium 50.

Facebook had an Outage

FacebookFacebook had a temporary outage that affected all traffic from the internet and apps to the social network. The popular social network was down for somewhere between ten minutes and about half an hour or so (depending upon which news resource you read and which country it was located in). At the time I am writing this blog, Facebook has returned to its usual service.

The Guardian reported that this was the longest outage that Facebook has had in four years. It also shared that there was a noticeable drop in the amount of Facebook referrals to The Guardian while Facebook was out of service.

About 1.28 billion users were suddenly unable to access Facebook while it was having the outage. TechCrunch reports that Facebook was unavailable in multiple regions around the world. This included the UK, France, Belgium, and parts of Asia (including India).

Personally, I noticed that my friends who live in Australia were posting Tweets in which they wondered why Facebook was down. It was rather amusing to see people from all over the world turn to Twitter to complain (and make jokes) about Facebook’s outage.

TechCrunch also reported that the outage affected not only the Facebook website and its smartphone and tablet apps but also some Facebook plug-ins that were attached to other websites. Those of you who use Facebook and have connected it to other websites may want to check and see how you were affected by the outage. Or, you may want to check your stats to see how Facebook’s outage affected traffic to your website.

What happened that caused Facebook to have an outage? That hasn’t been revealed. Several websites (including The Guardian) posted a statement that came from Facebook. It said:

Earlier this morning, we experienced an issue that prevented people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time. We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100%. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Robot Underpants: 06.18.14 (158) “YO, Redskins!”

Baron Mathew “Langley” Luschek, Eric Rice and “Starman” Michael Gaines discuss topics of the week including YO, fear of voicemail, Amazon’s phone, White House Maker Faire, Casey Kasem dies, Twitter animated gifs, Redskins,  Penny Dreadful, and NWA.

* YO!
* Voicemail-phobia
* Amazon Fire Phone
* White House Maker Faire
* Obama 3D Printed
* Casey Kasem Dies
* Twitter Animated Gifs
* Redskins Trademark Cancelled
* NWA

President Proclaims National Day of Making

The White House by Gage Skidmore on FlickrPresident Obama has proclaimed that June 18, 2014, is the National Day of Making. He is calling upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills.

The White House will be celebrating the National Day of Making by hosting the first-ever White House Maker Faire. It will feature students who are learning STEM skills, entrepreneurs that are launching new businesses, and innovators that are involved in American manufacturing. You can tune in to watch the first-ever White House Maker Faire live from the official website.

The inspiration behind the National Day of Making comes from America’s history of innovators who have created inventions that transformed the world. The National Day of Making is intended to encourage people to carry forward with that tradition. It also acknowledges the Maker Movement that students, families, and entrepreneurs have gotten involved in.

The White House is also starting #NationOfMakers on Twitter. Everyone is encouraged to use the hashtag to post photos of the maker project that they are currently working on, or to share plans for their next project. The White House website about the first ever White House Maker Faire has a map that shows where all the tweets that include #NationOfMakers are coming from. Click on any tweet that is featured in the list, and you can read the tweet and view the photo attached to it.

Image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr.

YouTube Will Launch Paid Music Service

YouTube logoThe music videos that you enjoy watching on YouTube may not be available for much longer. YouTube has plans to launch a paid streaming music service. It is expected to launch at the end of this summer. It is going to allow people to listen to music without any ads. Other features include the ability to listen to music offline and to listen to an artist’s entire album (instead of individual songs).

That might sound good to some people who currently enjoy streaming music services like Spotify or Pandora. On the other hand, some feel that YouTube’s service may result in less music options than you may be expecting. There is criticism that YouTube might block the music videos of labels who don’t agree with the terms it offers in its contracts.

The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) has concerns about YouTube’s paid streaming service. WIN released a statement in which it points out that YouTube has “apparently negotiated separate agreements with three major labels – Sony, Warner, and Universal”.

WIN also commented on its opinion about how YouTube is approaching independent music companies. In their statement, the organization said:

At a time when independent music companies are increasing their global market share WIN has raised major concerns about YouTube’s recent policy of approaching independent labels directly with a template contract and an explicit threat that their content will be blocked on the platform if it is not signed.

According to WIN members, the contracts currently on offer to independent labels from YouTube are on highly unfavorable, and non-negotiable terms, undervaluing existing rates in the marketplace from existing music streaming partners such as Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and others.

Personally speaking, the music videos that I seek out on YouTube are the ones from independent artists. I’ve long been a supporter of independent artists and bands. I play their music in my podcasts, make an effort to draw attention to their latest songs and albums through social media, and buy their albums when I am able to. I find it sad that YouTube doesn’t see the value of the bands and artists that I spend the majority of my time listening to.

GNC #956 Back in the Saddle

Great week on travel, I catch you up with what has transpired and also all of the latest tech news and information. Be one of our new GoDaddy users this month as well and save large below.. I also update you on my Transformation.

Download the Audio Show File
[Read more…]

Play