Blizzard Announced StarCraft: Remastered



Blizzard announced something that should evoke plenty of nostalgia for those of us who remember playing StarCraft against our friends at LAN parties back in the day – StarCraft: Remastered.  It is an upgrade of the original StarCraft game and its award winning expansion, StarCraft: Brood War. This could inspire those who stopped playing StarCraft to get back into the game.

We’ve remastered our units, buildings, and environments, improved game audio, and broadened our supported resolutions. Illustrated interludes bring the struggles and victories of heroes like Artanix, Fenix, Tassadar, Raynor, and Kerrigan to life like never before. Most importantly, the strategy gameplay that StarCraft perfected years ago remains unchanged.

In StarCraft: Remastered, players will be able to zoom out for a Battlecruiser’s view of the battlefield. They will also be able to zoom in to see fine details – such as “the veins on a Mutalisk’s wings.” The original StarCraft soundtrack and dialogue has been re-recorded and rejuvinated. There are race-themed comic book interludes that tell the original story with a fresh coat of paint.

Players can choose from Terrans, Protoss, or Zerg. Players need to finish the campaign portion of the game first, and then can battle against their friends or team up with other players online.

In the StarCraft Forums, there is a post in which Community Manger Traysent provides some clarification to players about what version of StarCraft will be free. “The original game will be free. The HD version will be an upgrade you can buy.” Kotaku reported that StarCraft: Remastered will be due out later this summer.


Pokémon GO Water Festival is in Progress



Niantic announced that the Global Water Festival is happening now in Pokémon GO. It began on March 22, 2017, and will end on March 29, 2017. In celebration of the Global Water Festival, Niantic is allowing players to get a free Magikarp Hat for their avatar.

During the Global Water Festival players will be more likely to encounter Magikarp, Squirtle, Totodile, and their Evolutions all around the world. Players that explore areas where Water-type Pokémon more commonly appear will have a greater chance to encounter several of the Water-type Pokémon originally discovered in the Johto region. Niantic coyly suggests that players might possibly run into Lapras.

Some players might not be too exited about encountering lots of Magikarps. They don’t do much of anything at all except flop around, and it takes a lot of candy to evolve them. To make the game more exciting, Niantic has added Shiny Magikarp into the wild. They are extremely rare. If you happen to catch one, Niantic would like you to share a screenshot of it on social media and use #PokemonGo.


GNC #1187 Apple Hacked?



Was Apple Hacked? That is the question a lot of people are asking especially when fingers are being pointed at third parties. The question I would like to ask is what third parties have access to my AppleID? I thought Apple controlled the entire food chain. How does a third party get access to my AppleID that can be used to be logged in and wiping my phone or worse. Questions need to be answered by Apple on exactly what they know. This show is pretty packed hope you have fun with me. I spend some time today talking about Investors and small businesses. Have a soap box moment.

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Audeara Headphones Adapt To You



It doesn’t look like this project needs the publicity given they’ve blown through their AU$100,000 target on Kickstarter but the Audeara headphones have a fairly unique selling point: they give you a hearing test and then adjust sounds levels across the frequency range to compensate for your personal physiology and hearing loss. That’s clever.

Designed by a team of doctors and engineers, the A-01 headphones carry out a simple hearing test the first time they are used via a mobile app. The results are recorded in the headphones themselves and is used to modify the sound signal before it is played in the ear, and each ear can be different too. Once the headphones are programmed, there’s no need for the app and the profile is used whatever the sound source.

Everyone has some degree of hearing loss. Obviously it tends to be worse in older people, but some suffer damage through their occupation or attending too many loud music concerts! The Auderea headphones can compensate for any loss, making the sound better, not simply louder, and they also incorporate active noise-cancellation for noisy environments. As everyone is different, everyone hears differently and every profile is different, but the A-01 headphones gets the sound as close as possible to the original.

For those concerned about hearing loss, the test results are stored in the app as an audiogram. By retesting hearing on a regular basis and looking for changes between the results, early indications of hearing impairment can be spotted and a medical assessment arranged.

It certainly sounds interesting and there are more details over on Kickstarter along with some early bird offers if you get in quick. Deliveries are expected in July 2017 but as with all things Kickstarter, exercise caution. Current offers are around AU$299 which is about U$230 or GB£185.


Optoma ML750ST LED Projector Review



Here on my desk I have an Optoma ML750ST LED projector. It’s a small short throw personal projector just 113 x 123 x 57 mm which makes it about the same size of a stack of CDs. Despite the diminutive form factor, the ML750 still comes with a good complement of ports and a couple of tricks. Let’s take a look.

White on the top and dark grey round the sides, the most noticeable feature of the Optoma projector is the disproportionately large lens on the front. It’s needed for the short-throw, which projects a large image from a short distance from the screen. Minimum distance is only 43 cm with a max around 3.5 m. At full distance, the image is around 5 m wide.

There’s a set of buttons on the top of the projector for turning it on, adjusting the image and selecting media (more on this later) but the main area of interest is round the back with a selection of connectors, ports and sockets, including HDMI and Universal I/O for VGA. The projector can read directly from media too and there are microSD and USB ports for data. A 3.5 mm stereo jack, power socket, IR receiver and Kensington lock round out the rear. Power is supplied via an external power supply, which keeps the size and weight down. There’s small remote control too.

On the bottom are three rubber feet and a camera screw mount. The foot at the front spins out to about a 1 cm to raise the projection up, and obviously the screw mount can be used with a tripod or ceiling mount. The large lens rotates smoothly through about 45 degrees to focus the image.

Connect up the ML750 to a PC or laptop and it appears as a WXGA (1280×800) monitor, and with a suitable OS you can do the usual tricks of either reproducing the current desktop or extending the desktop to the ML750’s display. The projector will lock onto the video signal and it sometimes took a second or two to pick up the VGA or HDMI. One of the benefits of an HDMI connector is that a media streaming stick like the Roku or Amazon Fire TV can be plugged straight in.

The ML750 does have a few other tricks up its sleeve (or USB port as the case may be). First of all, the projector has a built-in media player and Ms Office document viewer that will show films, play music and display Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF files directly from either a microsSD card or USB memory stick. Most documents that I tried worked fine, but some Powerpoint animations didn’t quite work as expected – to be fair, this is noted on Optoma’s website. The on-screen controls have big friendly icons in a subtle purplish hue.

If entertainment is more your bag, movies played well. Just for kicks, I connected up my new Sky Q and watched a couple of movies – it was all good fun with some big screen films. In a slightly darkened room, the picture was wasn’t bad – colours were good. The ML750ST puts out 800 lumens, according to the spec, whereas a powerful projector is 3000 lumens, so it’s not going to produce a bright image in a well-lit room.  Bring the lights down and it’s fine. Sound from the built-in speaker was rubbish (what do you expect?) so take a feed from the source through a hifi or plug in some external speakers.

Next on the list of clever things is the USB WiFi dongle which plugs into the back of the ML750. Once connected to the “HDCastPro_XXXX” wireless network, you can use the complementary HDCast Pro app on your smartphone or tablet to play presentations and display media. You can zoom in and out of photos and documents, and the refresh is pretty snappy, though not quite instantaneous. It’s a handy feature and definitely much more relevant these days with the increasing use of tablets. The only downside is that while connected to the projector via WiFi, the tablet isn’t connected to the Internet…but Optoma’s thought of this, and with a little extra configuration the projector can be directly connected to the local WiFi network. The HDCast Pro app still works in the same way but now the smartphone or tablet is connected to the main wireless network and there’s normal connectivity.

Finally, Optoma have this really nifty software suite for projection mapping which helps create two dimensional visual displays, almost works of art. It’s quite clever but takes a good amount of work to do well. My efforts were a bit feeble so I’ll point you in the direction of Optoma’s website for now. I’m going to keep tinkering and once I have something half-decent I’ll bring it back to GNC.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed by the ML750ST. I’m used to projectors about the size of the phone book and the ML750ST was able to do everything they can do and more. The ML750ST isn’t exactly an impulse buy as it’s priced at GB£529 and the USB WiFi dongle is an extra GB£30, but as business purchase, it makes a great deal of sense, especially with HDCast application for tablets and smartphones. I wouldn’t recommend it for a permanent installation in, say, a training room because a brighter projector would be more suitable, but for ad hoc presentations and portability, the ML750ST is a good choice.

The projector can be bought direct from Optoma and thanks to Optoma for the loan of the review unit.


GNC #1186 Fake Data



First, it was Fake News now it’s Fake Data and the implications are quite sobering if your think about the potential to ruin just about anything that has a data set behind it. Farmers, Bankers, Industrial the list goes on with groups that make decisions based on massive data sets. All it take is a small change to fix markets etc.

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Cleveland Comic-Con 2017



Wizard World’s Cleveland Comic-Con kicked off its third annual show this past weekend, with a pretty good crowd. Fans gathered at the Huntington Convention Center in downtown Cleveland to get their fill of comics, art, toys and several celebs. Famous faces included: Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Gene Simmons (Kiss), Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Charisma Carpenter and Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Jewel Staite (Firefly), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek) and more. Wizard World Comic Con Cleveland will return, March 23-25, 2018.


Devolo GigaGate Delivers Speed for Gaming and 4K



Here’s the problem….your broadband connection comes into the front of the house and your games room is at the back of the house. The free wifi router from the telco is rubbish and struggles with Netflix, never mind playing online gaming with the PS4. And the Bluray player needs a cabled connection. What are you going to do?

On solution might be to look at Devolo’s brand spanking new GigaGate Wireless Bridge which sets up a point-to-point 11ac WiFi connection and delivers gigabit-level performance. It’s fast. Very fast. Over about ten metres through one brick wall I had a connection speed of over 1 Gb/s in both directions.

The GigaGate has two units, one a base station which connects into your router via a cable, and a satellite station for the games room. The satellite offers five Ethernet ports and an 11n WiFi access point for connectivity. One of the LAN ports is gigabit and the other four are fast Ethernet (100 Mb/s). The GigaGate starter kit is a bit like Noah’s Ark – there are two units, two power suppliers and two network cables. Devolo recommends using their cables to ensure gigabit-level performance.

Getting started couldn’t be any simpler as the GigaGate bridge is configured out of the box. Connect the base station to the router, put the satellite next to the consoles and power up both units. Wait about twenty seconds for the lights to stop flashing and job done! It’s nearly idiot proof.

The base and satellite stations are shiny and black with white LEDs. As you’ll see from the pictures, they’re total dust magnets. Network ports are round the back and there are neat little feet which flip out to stand them up. The stations can be wall-mounted through the holes in the four corners, though I didn’t investigate this.

Devolo’s Cockpit app for PCs has been updated to include the GigaGate along with the dLAN powerline network units. The equivalent My Devolo app on Android doesn’t yet show the bridge though I’m sure it’s coming. Of course, both the base and satellite stations have a web interfaces, so it’s easy to log on for monitoring or configuration.

The interfaces are slightly different between the base and satellite stations. The base station can only communicate with satellite stations and the interface reflects that, showing information relating to the 5 GHz 11ac bridge. There’s only one network port too, though it is possible to connect eight satellite stations to one base station. This makes the GigaGate ideal for sending a broadband connection to outhouses – perhaps you have a garden office that’s currently supplied by a weak WiFi connection.

The satellite station offers more. While it can show the state of the bridge, the connection follows from the base. On the other hand, the base has five LAN ports plus an 11n WiFi connection which is configured here.

Frankly the best bit is checking on the Bridge Monitor to see the connection speeds between the two stations. Yes, that’s 1170 Mb/s. Most of the time, the Rx and Tx data rates were symmetrical. Occasionally they would become slightly asymmetrical but it never lasted long. Obviously YMMV when factors like building construction and WiFi congestion are taking into account.

The speed and capacity was impressive. To test the load I connected up via cable an HDTV, a gaming console, a laptop and two tablets via WiFi. None of the devices had any problems streaming video from a combination of sources (Sky Q, NAS, Netflix).

Any downsides? Well, when I first powered up the GigaGate, I found that on the default 5 GHz channel (36), the bridge seemed to stop the Hue lights in the room working. It’s slightly odd because ZigBee uses 2.4 GHz but moving the bridge to a higher channel (over 100) stopped the interference. I also found that occasionally the bridge channel would wander from the selected setting. Devolo support suggested that this would happen if there was interference on the channel.

Just as a point to note, the WiFi controls on the GigaGate aren’t as advanced as you might find on the Devolo’s dLAN powerline networking adaptors. Those offer features like guest connections and time settings which are missing from the GigaGate so don’t expect to see them on the satellite.

While talking about powerline networking, when would you use one over the other? Powerline networking would be better if, say, you lived in a building with really thick concrete walls and floors which interfere with the WiFi signal. On the other hand, powerline networking doesn’t work well (or at all) unless there is a single electrical circuit: I have this problem in my property which has been extended as there’s now two circuits and powerline networking doesn’t work well across them.

Overall, in a couple of week’s of testing, the GigaGate performed amazingly well. It’s fast and reliable but I’m not going to pretend that the GigaGate is cheap. It’s not, though it does compare favourably with competing solutions. The starter kit has an official price of GB£220 and an additional satellite station is GB£130. On the other hand it’s really good, and if you want proof, I ditched Sky’s much vaunted Sky Q network mesh in favour of the GigaGate and never looked back.

Unboxing video below.

Thanks to Devolo for supplying the GigaGate Wireless Bridge for review.


Philips Brings Candles to Hue



In news that will delight Hue and smart home owners everywhere, Philips has announced Hue Candle bulbs in two variants, one in white ambiance and the other white and colour ambiance. Philips say that the new shape means Hue bulbs can be installed in over 80% of lights commonly used round the world.

The new bulbs will be equivalent to 40W at full brightness and come in the B39 form factor for lamps with B14 (SES) sockets. The white bulb will consume 6W and output 470 lm @ 4000K. The colour one consumes more at 6.5W but light output is similar.

The candle has been one of the most requested products by Philips Hue customers. We’ve spent time ensuring it is of the highest quality and available in both white ambiance and white and colour ambiance. It is an important next step to ensure seamless integration in all rooms, giving you the freedom to personalize lighting throughout your home,” says Sridhar Kumaraswamy, Business Leader Connected Home Systems at Philips Lighting.

As Hue already integrates with other smart home systems like Samsung SmartThings and controllers like Amazon’s Alexa, the new candle bulbs can be seamlessly added to an existing Hue set.

The new Philips Hue Candle will be available in Europe by the end of April and later this year in North America, priced from EUR 34.95 (that’ll be the white ambiance bulb, I would imagine).


GNC #1185 Truck Drivers are Endangered Species!



Truck Drivers listening to this show will be compelled to tell me I am wrong. But mark my words in 10 years, the trucking business is going to be transformed. If my livelihood depended on trucking I would be looking to be in the business of providing the last 20 mile services that are going to be needed when the drivers are no longer hot butts in the seats. All the news you can handle and a deep discussion on IOT. Check out my personal action figure scanned from the folks at Solidiphy. Even though they shrunk my head to look like I have been to afflicted by a Voodoo doctor.

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