Santa Trackers

Are you and your family interested in tracking the progress of Santa Claus as he travels to your home? There are some online Santa Trackers that can help you do that. They have interactive things on the website that provide additional entertainment.

Google Santa Tracker has a countdown that shows exactly how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds until Santa takes off. The website is set up something like an Advent calendar, with one interactive thing unlocked each day between December, 1, 2017 and December 23, 2017. It includes some online art activities, games, videos, and learning activities. The bottom of the website says: “Come back on the 24th and help us track Santa all night!”

If you prefer, there is a Google Santa Tracker app for Android. It appears to include everything that you see on the Google Santa Tracker website.

The Official NORAD Santa Tracker has a countdown at the bottom of the screen that shows the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds until Santa starts traveling. The website has a selection of Christmas songs to listen to.

Click on one of the buildings on the website and it teaches you about NORAD. Another teaches you about Santa, his sleigh, and holiday traditions. There are also a Music Stage building, a theater, and an arcade with Christmas themed media. You can also visit the Gift Shop to purchase Santa and NORAD gear.

Grand Theft Auto has a Headshot Challenge

Rockstar Games, maker of Grand Theft Auto, is having a Headshot Challenge. Players need to acquire a special item before they can begin the Challenge.

Rumors of a lost relic from the frontier have begun to surface, and treasure awaits those bold enough to seek it. Keep an eye on your iFruit for a special in-game email containing the first clue, then follow the trail to unlock the Double-Action Revolver in GTA Online.

Once you acquire your gratis Double-Action Revolver, complete the Headshot Challenge in Freemode for a GTA$250,000 reward and unlock it for future gun-slinging exploits in Red Dead Redemption 2 on Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

Red Dead Redemption 2 was developed by the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption. Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience. Red Dead Redemption 2 is now available for preorder, and will release in Spring of 2018.

CDPH Guidelines to Reduce Exposure to RF Energy from Cell Phones

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued guidelines for individuals and families who want to decrease their exposure to the radio frequency energy emitted from cell phones. The CDPH notes that the scientific community has not reached a consensus on the risks of cell phone use, and says that research suggests long-term high use may impact human health.

The CDPH advises that the way to reduce your exposure to radio frequency energy that comes from cell phones is to keep your phone away from your body. “Keeping your phone just a few feet away from you can make a big difference.”

Here are some suggestions from the CDPH:

  • When you talk on your cell phone, avoid holding it to your head – use the speakerphone or a headset instead.
  • Send text messages instead of talking on the phone.
  • If you are streaming or if you are downloading or sending large files, try to keep the phone away from your head and body.
  • Carry your cell phone in a backpack, briefcase, or purse, NOT in a pocket, bra, or belt holster. The CDPH explains: “Because the phone’s antenna tries to stay connected with a cell tower whenever its on, it emits some RF energy even when you are not using it. It does not emit RF energy when its in airplane mode.”
  • Reduce or avoid using your cell phone when it is sending out high levels of RF energy. This happens mainly when: You see only one or two bars displayed; You are in a fast moving car, bus, or train; You are streaming audio or video, or downloading or sending large files.
  • Don’t sleep with your phone in your bed or near your head.
  • Take off the headset when you’re not on a call.

The CDPH feels that children may be more at risk for harm from exposure to RF energy than adults. They pointed out a few reasons for that concern.

  • RF energy can reach a larger area of a child’s brain than an adult’s brain.
  • A child’s brain and body grow and develop through the teen years. During that time, the body may be more easily affected by RF energy and the effect may be more harmful and longer lasting.
  • A child who uses a cell phone will have many more years of exposure to RF energy in his or her lifetime than someone who started using a cell phone as an adult.

Take-Two Announces Formation of Private Division

Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. announced the formation of Private Division, a new publishing label comprised of proven games industry veterans that is dedicated to bringing titles from top independent developers to market.

Private Division is a developer-focused publisher that empowers independent studios to develop the games that they are passionate about creating, while providing the support that they need to make their titles critically and commercially successful on a global scale.

Private Division will publish several upcoming titled based on the new IP from renowned industry creative talent, including the previously announced Ancestors: The Humankind Odyessy from Panache Digital Games, a studio led by the creator of the Assassins’s Creed franchise Patrice Désilets; an unannounced RPG currently codenamed Project Wight from The Outsiders, a studio founded by ex-DICE developers David Goldfarb and Ben Cousins; an unannounced sci-fi first-person shooter from VI Interactive, a studio founded by Halo co-creator Marcus Letho.

Additionally, Private Division is the publisher for Kerbal Space Program, which Take-Two acquired in May, 2017. With the exception of the Kerbal Space Program: Making History Expansion that is slated for release in the winter of 2018, there are no titles from Private Division currently planned for release during Take-Two’s fiscal years ending March 31, 2018 and 2019.

Private Division is headquartered in New York City with offices in Seattle and Munich, and is a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Private Division is the third publishing label within the Take-Two Interactive family, operating independently from Rockstar Games and 2K.

Mynt Bluetooth Tracker Review

Going by a recent report in The Guardian people misplace their stuff all too frequently. Bluetooth trackers tap into our forgetfulness and it’s a big market with several popular brands, each with their own particular feature set. On review here we have Mynt tracker from Slightech, aiming for a stylish yet feature-rich device. Let’s take a look.

The Mynt comes in a small transparent box so that as the outer sleeve slips off, you can see the Mynt inside. Opening the box gives access to the tracker, instructions, a keyring and a spare battery (CR2020), which is a nice touch. The tracker itself is a little like a military dog tag, measuring 55 x 25 x 3 mm. That’s about 2 1/4″ x 1″ x 1/8″. The outer surfaces are brushed steel and there’s a black strip on the top surface for a button and a red LED. The battery compartment has a locking mechanism to stop the battery coming out accidentally, but battery holder is a bit flimsy. The design won a prestigious Red Dot Award in 2016 and IF Design Award in 2017.

Getting going with the Mynt involves downloading the software from the relevant app store. I was testing on Android so it’s a 55MB download from Google Play. First thing the app wants you to do is to setup an account – it’s the usual email and password affair. Once that’s done, the Mynt app takes you through adding the Mynt tracker to your account, with some helpful pictures.

Once connected, the app lets you choose a picture for the thing you are tracking, and you can adjust three settings for separation alerts. This is for when you want to keep an eye on something very important and expect to have it nearby all the time. In this instance, when the tracker goes out of Bluetooth range of the smartphone, the alarm goes off alerting you to the situation. The feature can be turned off too if you simply want to know where something is.

The alarm itself is a relatively strong tune: it’s not a blaring alarm but noticeable enough. It’s always difficult to quantify but you can hear the alarm from the Mynt tracker when it’s in a wallet inside a trouser pocket in room where there’s gentle conversation going on. You’re not going to hear it in a noisy bar.

The alarms can be triggered manually too. Pressing an on-screen button in the Mynt app will sound the alarm on the Mynt tracker and pressing the button in the middle of the tracker will do the reverse. Great for finding keys down the back of the sofa.

Of course if you’ve lost the tracker (or more accurately, the thing attached to the tracker), the Mynt app will show the last known position of the tracker on a map. Once you’re in range, the icon changes colour to show a connection and then you can trigger the alarm.

Overall, the tracking and separation features worked as expected but neither the app nor the tracker were the snappiest at responding. Sometimes, the alarm wouldn’t ring the first time, but hit the button or the icon again and it would. Having said that the Mynt genuinely helped me find a lost item. I though it was at home, but the Mynt tracker showed me that the missing thing was in work and I found it there. Good job.

Sadly, I can’t say good things about the Mynt’s remote control features. To summarise, the Mynt can be switched into a remote control mode where the button on the tracker can be used to activate and control apps. For example, it can be used as a camera shutter button or to control music – one press is play, two presses is next track, three presses is back a track. I couldn’t get this feature to work at all. To start with, it appeared that the Mynt had to reboot into remote control mode and once done, had to boot back into tracker mode. Even when in remote control mode, I couldn’t get the button to do anything.

While we’re discussing the bad points of the Mynt tracker, the next is a “two-in-one”. The standard of English in the app could be better as evidenced by “Your account has been logined at others”, which brings us neatly the second part. As this error suggests, you can’t be logged into the Mynt app on two different devices at the same time. Why not? Competing tracking devices don’t have a problem here. And overall, the app’s just a bit clunky and unresponsive in places – I was using the Android version.

Pricing is around GB£20 on, depending on Mynt colour – there’s steel, gold, blue and black variants. US pricing is around $20 too, though there are discounts when buying more than one tracker.

Rounding up, I’m afraid that the Mynt is an also-ran in the Bluetooth tracker race. Yes, it works as expected (remote control excepting) and it looks great, but there are other trackers at a similar price with better apps and features. Look further.

Setup video below.

Thanks to Slightech for providing the Mynt tracker for review.

T-Mobile is Going to Un-Carrier Your TV

T-Mobile US, Inc. president and CEO John Legere unveiled the next phase in the Un-carrier’s mobile video strategy, announcing plans to launch a disruptive new TV service in 2018. He also announced the Un-carrier has signed a definitive agreement to acquire TV technology innovator Layer3 TV, Inc., and will work with Layer3 TV’s leading technology and talent to create T-Mobile’s new TV service.

The Un-carrier will build TV for people who love TV but are tired of multi-year service contracts, confusing sky-high bills, exploding bundles, clunky technologies, outdated UIs, closed systems and lousy customer service of today’s traditional TV providers.

T-Mobile has long been a leader in mobile video – first, giving customers the freedom to stream as much as they want with Binge On and T-Mobile ONE, and then giving T-Mobile ONE families a free Netflix subscription at no extra charge. All of these Un-carrier moves sent shockwaves through the wireless industry, prompting competitors to continue to follow T-Mobile’s lead.

The Un-carrier is shifting its strategy into overdrive by acquiring fellow disruptor Layer3 TV. Currently, Layer3 TV delivers a product that seamlessly integrates the best of television, streaming online video content and social media and is available in five cities across the US.

With Layer3 TV’s leading technology and talented team, T-Mobile plans to launch its own disruptive new TV service next year, tapping into the amazing content available from creators today to disrupt legacy cable and satellite TV’s distribution model. The Un-carrier’s new TV service will take full advantage of T-Mobile’s nationwide retail presence, top-rated brand, and award-winning sales and customer care organizations.

At the heart of T-Mobile’s mobile video strategy is the nation’s fastest LTE network – a network built to handle customers’ growing appetite for mobile video. T-Mobile’s network just continues to expand and improve with new nationwide low-band spectrum and more advanced technologies deployed than any other wireless company. Plus, T-Mobile is out in front again on 5G. The Un-carrier was first to commit to build a nationwide 5G network and has already begin working on that by deploying 5G-ready equipment.

Net Neutrality is Dead – #1247

Net Neutrality is Dead! So now we as consumers need to make sure we hold the Internet Service Providers feet to the fire. I share a lot of stories tonight in between the content and you will get to hear the insight on what the Spectrum team showed me when they come to check my install. Also, the studio is now one camera away from being a fully IP based studio. I think I will be on the first podcasts in the country to be a 100% Newtek NDI solution.

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Storify is Reaching its “End-Of-Life”

Storify was designed to help the voices online that matter, and to make the web tell a story. It was co-founded by Burt Herman and Xavier Damman. Storify has announced that it is reaching its “End-of-Life”, and will no longer be available after May 16, 2018.

As of December 12, 2017, no new accounts can be created. It will no longer be possible to submit requests for bug fixes to either Storify or Zendesk. No new or existing bug fixes will be addressed.

Existing Storify customers will be able to continue using all capabilities of the service until May 16, 2018 – except for the ability to create new stories (which will only be available for a limited time.) That ability will end on May 1, 2018. Storify recommends that existing Storify users export any content that they would like to keep by May 16, 2018, by using the export functionality in Storify.

Storify points out that existing Storify users might want to gain access to Storify 2 (after Storify shuts down). Storify 2 is a feature of Livefyre, which requires a Livefyre license.

EVE Online Created the “Blaze” Squadron Skin Set

EVE Online has created a skin to honor CCP Blaze, one of the Senior Software Engineers with their Audio & Graphics team. He passed away suddenly on November 14, 2017, and is survived by his fiancée and one year old daughter.

EVE Online will be hosting their own internal fundraiser and will be supporting his family, friends, and co-workers as best as possible. They also are honoring CCP Blaze by releasing a new skin. It is called the “Blaze” Squadron Skin Set. All profits from this set will be donated directly to the fiancée and daughter of CCP Blaze on behalf of the EVE Online Community.

The special skin will only be available as a one-off between now and December 19, 2017. After that, it will be retired from the New Eden Store, and will never be sold again.

It will be available for the following hulls, in a bundle for 495 PLEX:

  • Barghest
  • Cerberus
  • Hurricane
  • Ishtar
  • Oracle

It will also be made available separately for the Armageddon, CCP Blaze’s favorite ship, for 110 PLEX. EVE Online wrote a special description for the “Blaze” Squadron SKIN. It honors CCP Blaze and writes “Blaze” into backstory as an immortalized part of New Eden’s history.

Twitch Skill is now on Alexa

Twitch announced that they have launched their Twitch Skill on all Alexa-enabled devices in the United States. This Skill enables people to control Twitch with their voice.

The Twitch Skill lets you play your favorite channels, discover new streamers, get notified when your favorite channels start streaming, and get a reminder when your Twitch Prime subscription is available to use.

You will need to enable the notifications permission for the Twitch Skill in your Alexa app to start receiving notifications. Alexa will notify you anytime a followed channel that you have notifications enabled for starts broadcasting.

Other features include:

  • If you’ve linked your Twitch account, say “Alexa, ask Twitch for followed channels” or “Alexa, tell Twitch to show me channels I follow.”
  • Discover a new channel for your favorite game or Twitch category by asking Alexa to show you who is playing a specific video game. You can also ask Alexa to suggest an IRL channel.
  • You can ask Alexa to show you the Twitch streams that are popular.
  • You can ask Alexa to suggest a game for you. Alexa will read you a list of popular games and you can select one to hear the most popular channels for it.
  • You can ask Alexa to play a specific Twitch channel.