Valve will Replace Greenlight with Steam Direct



Valve announced that they will replace Steam Greenlight with Steam Direct. The reason for the change is to better serve their goal of making customers happy. Steam decided it needed to move away from a small group of people at Valve trying to predict which games would appeal to different groups of customers.

Steam Greenlight was launched because Valve felt it was a useful stepping stone for moving to a more direct distribution system. Greenlight is a community-focused program that uses a voting system to determine which games are published on Steam. Games that got enough community support are “greenlit”.

Valve is replacing Greenlight with a new direct sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. It is called Steam Direct.

This new path, which we’re calling “Steam Direct”, is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight. We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.”

At the moment, Valve is still debating what that application fee should be. They talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they got a range of responses from $100 to $5,000. Valve wants more feedback before it settles on what the fee will be.

The existence of a fee might dissuade people from trying to get low-quality games onto Steam. That being said, if the fee is too high, it might make it difficult or impossible for small companies, or independent game creators, from being able to afford to get their game on Steam.


Instapaper Restored After Extended Outage



If you use Instapaper, you may have noticed that it recently experienced an extended outage.  The outage began on February 8, at 12:30 PM PT. Instapaper announced the outage in a blog post on February 9, 2017.

After spending multiple hours on the phone with our cloud service provider, it appears we hit a system limit for our hosted database that’s preventing new articles from being saved. At this time, our only option is to export all data from our old database and import it into a new one.

Instapaper expected that their service would be fully recovered on February 9. In the meantime, Instapaper assured its users “we haven’t lost any data.” It let people know that “anything you’ve already saved to Instapaper is safe.”

In a follow-up post on February 9, Instapaper reported that, after 31 hours of downtime, they were able to rebuild a database instance and get Instapaper back online. That being said, the full recovery would take time.

Users need to know that anything you’ve saved since December 30, 2016, is accessible. Instapaper is working on getting the rest of your articles restored. Again, Instapaper reassures people that there hasn’t been any data loss. The full database exports were taking longer than expected. They are aiming to have the full archives back up by February 17, 2017, at the latest.


GNC #1177 Net Neutrality Battle Ahead



I talk at length about the upcoming Net Neutrality battle. I also talk about why spending more than 10 minutes on Facebook may be hazardous to your health and why it and the news in general has me stressed out.. Time to take a media break.. Plus all the tech news you can handle. Are you a gamer? Time sensitive information in this show for you.

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Pokémon GO has a Valentine’s Day Event



Niantic, creator of Pokémon GO, has started a limited-time celebration of Valentine’s Day.  It started on February 8, 2017, and will continue through 11:00 A.M. PST on February 15, 2017. Now is a good time to catch some Pokémon that you probably haven’t seen very often.

The featured Pokémon for the Valentine’s Day event are pink. Niantic officially says that players will notice more Chansey, Clefable, and many other adorable pink Pokémon that you can encounter in the wild more frequently than you usually would.

Personally, I’ve also seen a lot more JigglyPuffs and Exeggcutes that I would have expected. I also caught a Slowpoke and a Lickitung. All of them are very pink.

In addition, Cleffa, Igglybuff, and Smoochum will be more likely to hatch from Eggs. Lure modules will last for six hours during the Valentine’s Day event – which is extraordinary considering that lure modules typically last for 30 minutes. Buddy Pokémon will find Candy twice as fast while the Valentine’s Day event is going on.


GNC #1176 Hacker Takes out Dark Web Site



A good Hacker has taken out a very nasty Dark Web site that was making available absolute filth exposing 381,000 users emails and connecting IP addresses that law enforcement should be able to use to build cases. It is simply disgusting that any of this material is available. Good job to the hacker and I feel sorry for the investigative folks that have to dig through this material.

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The WoW Token Can Now be Exchanged for Battle.net Balance



Blizzard Entertainment created the WoW Token in 2015. In my opinion, the purpose was to give players a safe and secure way to buy in-game gold directly from Blizzard (and not from a disreputable gold seller). Today, Blizzard Entertainment expanded the potential uses for a WoW Token. Players can now exchange a WoW Token for Battle.net Balance.

Previously, the WoW Token had two purposes. A player who wanted to buy in-game gold could log in to World of Warcraft and spend real world currency on a WoW Token. After buying one, that player would put the WoW Token onto the World of Warcraft in-game Auction House. The player would get a quote that confirmed how much gold they would receive whenever their WoW Token sold.

Another player, who wanted to buy game-time, but did not have the real world currency to spend on it, could use their in-game gold to buy a WoW Token from the World of Warcraft in-game Auction House. That player would spend their in-game gold and use the WoW Token to pay for a month of game-time.

Today, Blizzard Entertainment has added a new option. World of Warcraft players who want to add to their Battle.net account can visit the World of Warcraft in-game Auction House, buy a WoW Token, and choose to redeem it for Battle.net Balance. In short, this gives players a new way to add to their Battle.net Balance without having to use real world currency.

The cool thing is that a player can spend the money in their Battle.net Balance on World of Warcraft Pets and Mounts. Or, they can spend it on items from other Blizzard Entertainment games like Overwatch or Heroes of the Storm. This gives more options to World of Warcraft players who also play other Blizzard Entertainment games.


Where Are The Desktop SSD’s?



Windows logo blueI have a Compaq desktop PC that’s a few years old that is handy for tasks such as doing taxes or writing articles with. Unfortunately, it came with Windows Vista. More than a year ago I installed an inexpensive 128 gigabyte SSD in it. The SSD sped things up dramatically to the point where Vista was actually usable. To be honest, apart from being a bit of a resource hog, Vista has been quite stable on this machine.

While doing my 2016 taxes I received an on-screen Microsoft notification warning me that the Vista “End of Life” date is April 11, 2017. That presented me with a dilemma. Should I pay for the upgrade to update the Compaq to Windows 10? Or, should I just replace the machine with a newer model that came with Windows 10 preinstalled?

If I were buying a new machine, I would insist on an SSD. Unfortunately, after a bit of looking, it seems that desktop computers with factory-installed SSD’s are as rare as hens teeth and if they are offered at all they tend to be on the pricey side.

The other problem is that the old LCD monitor that’s attached to the Compaq is VGA only. I would have to also have an HDMI to VGA adapter unless I wanted to replace a perfectly functional monitor.

PC manufacturers complain that PC’s just aren’t selling very well. Have they ever thought about the fact that the models they are offering for sale tend to be mediocre? How about offering a $500 desktop tower that has a reasonable processor, a reasonable amount of RAM, and a 128 or 256 SSD?

Is that too much to ask?

In my opinion the SSD offers one of the biggest performance boosts of any upgrade ever, and yet PC manufacturers seem to be mindlessly failing to utilize it to excite consumers with. I’m afraid it doesn’t make any sense. Why should the consumer get excited about machines slowly booting from spinning hard drives that offer performance that is, from a perception standpoint, not that much different from the Windows machines on sale in the same stores a decade ago?

The only excuse for the lack of SSD-equipped desktop PC’s that seems to be offered is that customers “expect” one terabyte or larger drives on which to store massive amounts of pictures, music, etc. I don’t know if that is true or not. Personally, I stopped storing my stuff on my computer hard drives starting upwards of three years ago. I use a network-attached, Internet-savvy Western Digital MyCloud drive to store all of my digital stuff on. I also employ multiple inexpensive large spinning drives as redundant back-up drives. All of my 8,000 plus pictures are additionally stored with Google Photos for instant access to every picture I’ve ever taken right from my phone. I use my computers as creation and manipulation tools and NOT as mass storage devices.

In the end, I opted to go the cheaper route and buy a copy of Windows 10. It came on a USB thumb drive. It installed just fine on the Compaq. Everything seems to work, with the exception of an old Canon scanner that Canon offers no Windows 10 driver for. The loss of the Canon scanner is not a problem since my HP all-in-one WiFi printer can handle any flatbed scanning needs I might have. It did a large Windows update, and I installed a couple of things such as Dropbox and TurboTax 2016. The Compaq won’t win any speed competitions, but it’s poised to continue to do chores such as taxes until October 14, 2025, Windows 10’s scheduled end of life date. By then it might be time for a new computer.


GNC #1175 New Cyber Warfare!



There is a new form of Cyber Warfare that is being used against digital companies, using tactics that have worked on Television and Radio personalities. Here that and a full stack of incredible news, this is the most action packed show in sometime. Did you miss my Tribute on Facebook? Please tell Kris thank you for having faith in this show.

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The New York Times Launches on Snapchat Discover



The New York Times announced that it will launch on the Snapchat Discover platform. The New York Times will create a daily Edition for Snapchatters in the U.S., Canada, and Australia based on its popular Morning Briefing, which is designed to help readers prepare for their day, and will be published Monday through Friday.

Discover is the section of the Snapchat app where Snapchat users can find content from media companies, curated and designed specifically for the platform. Over 150 million Snapchatters use the app every day. According to Nielsen data, on any given day, Snapchat reaches 41 percent of all 18-34 year olds in the U.S. In comparison, an average individual U.S. TV network only reaches 6 percent of the same democraphic.

The partnership with Snap will allow the Times to put together a team of top visual storytelling experts to produce a distinctive edition of the morning briefing for the Snapchat community. The Time’s team, as with all Discover publishers, will have editorial independence over the Editions is produces for Snapchat.


Real and Virtual Play Combine with Sam’s Curious Cars



Learning is best done when fun and what’s more fun than play? Sam’s Curious Cars fall right into this sweet spot and Todd gets an interactive demo from Joachim.

Sam Labs have created a series of component-based toys (think chassis, wheels, motors) that can be built up to make a vehicle – in this instance a car. The components are compatible with Lego bricks, so builders can really express themselves.

Once constructed, the car can be controlled by other components, like a switch for power and a slide for left and right. The car can also be controlled by an app and for advanced learners, the cars behaviour can be built up using control blocks in the app. It’s designed to introduce some of the key concepts of programming without actually having to code.

There’s a series of six different sets, priced from US$99 and the Curious Cars are $199. Additional sensors and motors can be bought separately. Available now from the Sam Labs shop and other good retailers.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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