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Gaming Channels on YouTube are Being Deluged With Takedown Notices

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:52 PM on December 11, 2013

Copyright violation In the last couple of days there have been thousand of takedown notice issued involving gaming footage on Youtube. There are now a number of reports that both individuals and companies that upload gaming footage are being deluged with copyright claims. The claims don’t appear to be coming from the gaming developer in fact many of them including Capcom and Blizzard has offered to help those effected. Many takedown claims are being issued by the companies that own the copyrights to the background music for gaming videos, companies such as IDOL which is a music distribution firm and Bafta (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts). In fact to make things worse many of the take down notices appear to be coming from companies that don”t have the copyrights or companies that are no longer in business. The takedown notices are being issued through the Automated Content ID system, which was recently updated. The system is now flagging videos which previously had been missed. Most of these videos involve cut scenes, game play, outtakes and in-game music.

Many of the companies and individuals that are being effected including major player such as TheRadBrad, GhostRobo and Machinima depend on these Youtube videos for their revenue when videos are pulled no revenue is coming to them. While the takedown occur automatically an appeal can take days even weeks to be settled. The videos may still visible to the user, but the revenue is now going to the copyright holders instead of the individual or companies that uploaded and created the videos. Some people think that this is related to the changes that are supposed to be coming in January in relationship to Affiliates and Managed users and the monetization review process, although that is yet to be confirmed.

Google’s response appears to be less than adequate, basically stating if you don’t like it appeal. This is going to take a while to sort out, it appears there are very few winners in this story. The people who are producing the videos are losing revenue, the game developers are losing free advertisement and viewers maybe losing the ability to see well-developed and useful gaming videos. In my opinion this appears to be another case of copyright enforcement gone amuck.

TP-Link WiFi Powerline Extender Review

Posted by Andrew at 5:35 AM on December 9, 2013

From smart TVs to DVRs and games consoles, many items of consumer electronics now expect a network connection to download media or to upload hi-scores. Most homes don’t have ethernet cabling as standard and surprisingly few of these gadgets actually have wireless connectivity. Even then, it’s rare to have good signal throughout the house.

TP-Link Wireless Extender Box

This is where the TP-Link 300 Mbps AV500 WiFi Powerline Extender can come in, solving two problems at a stroke. First, for those who aren’t familiar with Powerline, it’s a technology that uses the mains electricity circuits to transmit network signals and as most homes have power sockets in every room, it’s ideal for spreading the network round the house. This kit (TL-WPA4220KIT) from TP-Link has two adaptors, one of which connects up to the broadband router and the other goes into the otherwise network-free room.

TP-Link Units in Box

But that’s not all….the room unit provides both wired and wireless services. A pair of ethernet ports on the bottom of the adaptor can hook up two cabled devices, say TV and DVR, and the wireless extender can strengthen the 11n network in the room to keep a games console happy. The kit can be extended with additional Powerline units to supply multiple rooms with networking.

TP-Link Side On

That’s the theory…how does it work in practice? Frankly, everything went very smoothly. Out of the box, the two units found each other and paired up across the house. The wireless unit has a clever clone feature where you press the WPS button on your usual wireless box and then the “clone” button on the front of the wireless adaptor. After a few seconds, the TP-Link adaptor then presents the same SSID and password as the existing box, but chooses a different channel to transmit on. To all intents and purposes, it appears that there’s a single wireless network in the area. Clever and very easy. (The configuration can be done manually as well.)

Performance-wise, I did some testing using Totusoft‘s Lan Speed Test. Bear in mind that no two homes will be setup the same, so while the Mbit/s figures are of interest, it’s the relative performance that matters. Remember, no-one gets real-world data transfer rates anywhere close to the headline rate because of the networking overheads. With that in mind, I tested the download speed from a Buffalo NAS to a Toshiba laptop using a 500 MB file. The figures are approx averages of a couple of tests.

  • Wired connection via standard ethernet – 146 Mbit/s
  • Wired connection via TP-Link Powerline – 72 Mbit/s
  • Wireless connection via TP-Link Powerline – 64 Mbit/s

I’m fairly impressed with those figures. Effectively, the throughput over the mains was about half what I’d get from an ethernet cable but 72 Mb/s throughput is pretty good, with the wireless not far behind.

For further comparison, I had a 200 Mb/s Belkin Homeplug system, which is a similar but slightly older technology.

  • Wired connection via Belkin Homeplug – 32 Mbit/s

Again, interesting. The Belkin is rated at 200 Mb/s with the TP-Link at 500 Mb/s. It’s perhaps unsurprising then that 32 Mb/s isn’t far off 2/5ths of 72 Mb/s.

And finally, I tried doing what you are warned against doing, namely plugging the TP-Link Powerline adaptor into an extension lead. I think the figures speak for themselves. Rubbish!

  • Wired or wireless connection via TP-Link Powerline in extension lead – 15 Mbit/s

Overall, the TP-Link Powerline units work well and they’re a good way to provide network connectivity to blackspots, both wired and wirelessly. The wi-fi clone feature makes it especially easy to setup. If you are getting some new gadgetry for Christmas that’s going to need a network connection, give this  Starter Kit a look. It’s available from all good retailers, including Amazon.co.uk for around £70. There is an older 200 Mb/s version that looks similar so make sure that you are buying the right one.

Note, all the figures above are megabits per second. No megabytes here, except for the download file size. Thanks to TP-Link for providing the Starter Kit for review.

Angry Birds Star Wars 2 visits Naboo

Posted by Alan at 10:12 AM on December 5, 2013

angry birds star wars 2Angry Birds Star Wars 2 is the latest member of the family of popular games produced by Rovio. The game maker has been on a roll recently with updates to several of its titles, including the original game and also Seasons. Now the Finnish company has launched a new batch of levels for the newest game.

This time Rovio is adding 44 new levels, 20 for the Bird Side and 20 for the Pork Side, plus two secret levels for each. These levels add Naboo to the game. “Get ready for the Battle of Naboo – the third chapter of Angry Birds Star Wars II that takes you to the epic conclusion of the first Star Wars movie, Episode I”, the game maker announces.

Customer will be able to use Naboo’s giant trees and nature against the Pork Side high-tech army before facing the epic battleship blockade in space. Or, conversely, choose the Pork Side and conquer Theed City by using underwater gameplay.

The new update is available for both Android and iOS, but if you prefer, you can also purchase PC-based version that Rovio sells for only $4.95.

Angry Birds Seasons gets in the holiday spirit

Posted by Alan at 12:07 PM on November 29, 2013

With Thanksgiving having now past, we reach the heart of the holiday season, with cold weather and frantic shoppers. There are a number of ways to get into the spirit of the season, including the music you listen to and themes for your desktop and web browser. But, you can also look to mobile gaming as an option.

For the second time in less than a week, Rovio has pushed an update to its popular Angry Birds series of games. While the last one was for the original version, this new update is for Seasons, which generally gets new sections that are based on the current time of year. This update is no exception — “This all-new Angry Birds Seasons episode brings 25 festive, frosty and fun-filled levels, plus another 4 bonus levels”, to Finnish company claims.

angry birds seasons

The new levels bring a change of pace, in that you can now fling the birds down into the water, in an attempt to have them rise back up and attack the pigs in a new way.

Rovio electrifies Angry Birds with new levels

Posted by Alan at 8:06 AM on November 26, 2013

Fans of the Rovio series of games can rejoice today, as the Finnish game maker is rolling out an update to its flagship mobile product. While it’s probably no longer the most popular Angry Birds, the original has become a classic in the minds of many gamers.

“Today Angry Birds received an electrifying new update with 30 fun-filled levels set in Professor Pig’s lab”, the company states. It then proceeds to describe that customers will find the new levels contain a bonus — the Bomb Bird has now become electrified. “His temper has grown after he accidentally stumbles upon powerful potions and electricity in the Professor’s lab”, as Rovio describes it.

Not to let a marketing opportunity fail to pass them by, the studio is also pushing a new tee-shirt emblazoned with the logo “shockwave”. It has also release a short trailer video to get you familiar with this latest update. You can watch the video below, but beating the levels is something we can’t help you with.

Twitch Cracks Down on Non-Gaming Content

Posted by JenThorpe at 7:01 PM on November 25, 2013

TwitchTwitch is a great place to check out if you want to watch people play video games. For example, I’ve been watching people stream as they play the beta of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Its awesome to get a glimpse of what will be in the upcoming expansion.

Sadly, though, it seems that some of the people who use Twitch to stream themselves playing video games are abusing the service. Recently, Twitch streamer Darckobra was banned after he chose to do some “not safe for work” (and completely inappropriate) things while streaming. I’ll leave you to visit the Gamer Revolution article for further details about exactly what happened.

The guy, and his wife, were playing a PS4 game called The Playroom. The game uses the PlayStation Camera and requires a DualShock 4 wireless controller. The camera shows your living room on the screen, and adds playful little robots that you can interact with. In other words, it is an augmented reality “game” that is designed to show off what the PS4 can do.

Twitch sent out the following tweets to show that they will be cracking down on “non-gaming” content:

It is possible to stream The Playroom through Twitch.tv (or Ustream) through the Live From PlayStation feature. Parents should be aware that watching a stream of The Playroom may or may not be appropriate for children to view. That’s rather sad, since it looks to me like The Playroom is something that is primarily entertaining to children.

Dig out your wallet — white Xbox One on Ebay

Posted by Alan at 6:20 AM on November 12, 2013

In ten days Microsoft will launch the next generation game console, the Xbox One. The $500 device is designed to take over the living room, bringing just as many entertainment options as it does games. If you have pre-ordered one, or plan to grab one later, then you can expect it to come in black.

However, if you have some spare money sitting around, and wish to support a good cause, then you can grab an ultra-rare white build of the console.

Xbox Live chief Larry Hryb, AKA Major Nelson, has one up for auction and the money goes to benefit Wounded Warrior Project. “The winning bid will not only receive the extremely limited edition white Xbox One (console, Kinect and controller) but will also receive one year of Xbox Live, and a copy of each of our first party launch titles including Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3, Killer Instinct and Crimson Dragon”.

As of this writing, the bid stands at $11,300, but at least the shipping is free. Of course, the money also goes to a good cause, so that is the real benefit in spending the the rather hefty fee.

white xbox one

Asphalt 8 for Android goes free

Posted by Alan at 7:12 AM on November 6, 2013

asphalt 8

There is no shortage of good games available on the Android platform, from sports to shooters to racing. You can even relive your youth through classic arcade games from Atari and Activision. And, if you like fast cars with exotic names like Lamborghini, Ferrari and Bugati, then there are games for you as well.

Now Android customers who happen to fall into that category get a special treat. Asphalt 8: Airborne has gone free for the Google mobile operating system.

If you aren’t familiar, it’s an arcade-style racing game with lots of high-performance cars, exotic locations and scattered platforms and ramps around the tracks that allow you to fly your car and do stunts with it. You get none of the realism of games like Real Racing 3, but instead you do get perhaps a bit more adrenaline.

The developer describes it as “The best Android arcade racing game series reaches a new turning point! Perform dynamic, high-speed aerial stunts in an intense driving experience powered by a brand-new physics engine”.

All of this may mean that Asphalt 9 is on the horizon, but that’s fine. You won’t be paying for a game that may become outdated — free is free.

 

How To Lose Weight

Posted by Andrew at 6:07 AM on October 23, 2013

You might be forgiven in thinking that we’ve moved from a tech blog into a lifestyle magazine but I wanted to share a little of my life from the past 18 months. In late spring last year, I visited my doctor and she pointed out that in the 20 years since I joined her practice, I’d put on over 20 kg in weight – about 44 lb – and that my blood pressure was up. All classic signs of a heart attack waiting to happen. I had to lose some weight, get the pounds off and lower that blood pressure or an early exit beckoned. Obviously I’m still here but did I shed the pounds and how did I do it.

First of all, let’s get over the fact that there’s no diet in existence that will make you magically lose weight; you have to work at it. However, the recipe for weight loss is very straightforward – there are only three ingredients really.

  • Eat less
  • Eat better
  • Exercise more

While the recipe for weight loss is easy, I’ll admit that following it isn’t. The good news is that you can have three square meals a day; the bad news is that it means no junk – no crisps (chips), sweets or late night peanut butter sandwiches. There’s no need to starve: just take smaller portions and if you are full, stop eating.

Wii Fit Balance BoardAs a geek, I also employed a bit of tech to help achieve my goal – a Nintendo Wii with Balance Board, a Fitbit Zip and food apps / web sites.

Most people will be familiar with the Nintendo Wii though sadly its discontinuation has been announced in the past few day. The Balance Board is bundled with WiiFit and WiiFit Plus, and while the associated programs are fun enough, I used the Balance Board as electronic scales to record my weight. Each morning, shortly after getting up, I’d weigh myself on the Balance Board. If my weight was down, I gave myself a mental high five. If my weight was up, it was a mental “you need to do better”. The Wii records your weight day by day and will show a graph of your progress.

Fitbit ZipThe second piece of gadgetry is the Fitbit Zip. It’s an advanced digital pedometer that will upload its data to your PC and onwards to Fitbit’s portal. I received this for Christmas and Fitbit tries to gamify the activity of walking further by competing against friends and awarding badges. While I don’t need any stinkin’ badges, I was quite chuffed to be awarded my 1000 mile badge last month. The Zip doesn’t make you fitter by itself, but it does make you aware of walking and now I often choose to walk where previously I might have taken the car. Every little bit helps.

Finally to help eat better, I used a range of foodie websites and apps to find new, interesting and low calorie recipes. I find the BBC’s offerings both on their main site and on the Good Food site are excellent. Many of the supermarkets, such as Tesco, have good recipes too. Look for sections on healthy eating. App-wise, there’s a Good Food app on Android too. It helps if the app and website cater to metric as well as imperial units and do the conversions properly as directly converting from oz to g doesn’t work terribly well.

A word of advice. When browsing the supermarket shelves, “low fat” is not a particular benefit when the product is laden with sugar to make up the taste so approach with caution any food which loudly makes those claims. Ultimately, I found that weight and calories were the best guides so read the nutritional information on the back of food.

Did I succeed in losing weight with help from this tech? Absolutely – I’ve managed to lose nearly 18 kg (40 lb) and 4″ in waistline. There’s still a few pounds to lose but I do feel tremendously better for it. It has been hard work even with the tech – it requires willpower to say “no” to food, and food is so very much part of Western culture. But you can do it as I did. Remember; eat less, eat better, exercise more. Take encouragement from your success and determination from your setbacks.

Rovio gets ready for tricks and treats

Posted by Alan at 5:32 AM on October 22, 2013

angry birds friends halloween

Halloween is right around the corner and, as in previous years, Rovio is celebrating via its popular mobile games. In the past this has consisted of an update to Angry Birds Seasons, but this time around the developers are taking a different approach.

The Finnish company is rolling out two updates, this time adding zombie pigs to both the Bad Piggies game, as well as Angry Birds Friends, the weekly tournament game.

“This is the Halloween when Zombie Pigs will walk the Piggy Island! A new update for Bad Piggies, called Tusk ‘til Dawn, kicked off the Halloween celebrations by introducing 30 spooky new levels with scary Zombie Pigs searching for King Pig’s candy”, the company has announced.

In addition, beginning October 23 there will be a special Halloween tournament live on Angry Birds Friends. “Don’t worry! You’ll have new custom slingshots to fight the hordes of the oinking dead. You can purchase a new slingshot with a special power that will apply to all birds shot with it. You can change the slingshots for each bird, and once purchased you can use them permanently in both web and mobile versions of the game”.

Both updates are now available in the Google Play store and the Apple store.