Blizzard Will Ban Cheaters in Overwatch



Overwatch logoOverwatch is already an incredibly popular game, despite the fact that it hasn’t even been released yet. The open beta has ended, and there are many players who are anxiously awaiting their opportunity to play Overwatch (after the game is released). Hopefully, they will be smart enough to play the game without cheating, because Blizzard will be banning cheaters in Overwatch.

The open beta for Overwatch recently ended. A total of 9.7 million players participated. The game can be played on XBox One, PS4, or PC. (Overwatch cannot be played on a Mac – which is disappointing, but not unusual when you consider how many video games aren’t Mac compatible). Overwatch will be released on May 24, 2016, and is available for pre-purchase now.

In an official post on the Overwatch website, Community Manager Lylirra (Stephanie Johnson) made it clear that Blizzard will not tolerate cheating in Overwatch.

We’ve always taken cheating in Blizzard games very seriously, and that stance is no different for Overwatch. “Play nice; play fair” is one of our core values as a company, and its something we’ve taken to heart not only when designing the game, but also as we’ve developed our plans to support it and our players after launch.

What does this mean for Overwatch? If a player is found to be cheating – or using hacks, bots, or third-party software that provides any sort of unfair advantage – that player will be permanently banned from the game. Full stop.

The same post gives honest players some ways to report cheaters. Overwatch will have an option “to report players for potential cheating” directly through the game client. In addition, players who believe that another player is cheating, or who have “information pertaining to the use of hacks, bots, or unauthorized third-party software in Overwatch” can contact hacks@blizzard.com and make a report.


Google Puts One More Nail Into Flash’s Coffin



Chrome logoAdobe Flash may be dying the slowest death of any software platform that’s ever existed. And it’s about to move even closer to its demise, based on a recent announcement from Google. The search engine and internet services giant has announced that it will stop Flash from loading by default for most websites in its popular Google Chrome web browser.

Google won’t be completely removing or blocking Flash in Chrome. The new default state for the browser will keep Flash from automatically running when a website tries to load a Flash-based player. Instead, Chrome will force websites properly configured with HTML5 players to load those players first. Users will be able to configure the browser to use Flash first if they really want to. Some sites, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and Amazon will still have Flash enabled by default. But that exemption will only last for one year.

The tech community at large has been watching the slow decline of Flash popularity for about a decade now. In its heyday, Flash was used for everything from in-browser video games and online applications to web-based audio and video players. But when Apple launched its first iPhone, the company was adamant that the device would never, ever support Flash natively. This decision may have led to quicker and wider adoption of HTML5, a web standard that made it easier to deliver rich content thru the internet.

Flash is often derided for its many security issues and its need for constant updates. This move by Google will surely put another nail into Flash’s coffin. I doubt anyone will really be disappointed.


Activision Blizzard Launched an ESports Broadcast Network



Activision Blizzard logoActivision Blizzard Media Networks (ABMN) has announced the launch of new content, broadcast experiences, and distribution partners for its MLG.tv streaming platform. It will deliver live eSports tournament coverage both through MLG.tv and also through Facebook.

This announcement was made at the IAB Digital Content NewFronts 2016 event. MLG.tv debuted its Enhanced Viewing Experience (EVE) at the event. EVE is a high-definition video stream with a built-in algorithmic system that provides viewers with match statistics, up-to-the-minute leaderboards, and situational insights based on the competition they are watching.

Activision acquired Major League Gaming, one of the biggest eSports leagues, in January of 2016. The mission of MLG.tv is to promote eSports through premier competition and to deliver premium gaming content to viewers anytime, anywhere, through the MGT.tv global streaming platform.

To start, ABMN will launch eSports content during MLG Anaheim Open, which is a two-day Call of Duty: Black Ops III tournament that will start on June 10, 2016. The event will also be the inaugural event as part of a deeper collaboration between ABMN and Facebook. The collaboration will allow MLG.tv to broadcast live competitions and deliver ESR content to the 1.6 billion people on Facebook.

Activision is the creator of the Call of Duty series of games. Blizzard is the creator of StarCraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and the very popular Overwatch (which is currently in beta). All of these games are ideal for eSports.


GNC #1116 Comcast up to same old Tricks!



Comcast appears to be up to the same old tricks in using third parties to do their dirty work.. Quick show today back to the studio next week. Lot’s accomplished these two past weeks on the road but ready for some Aloha.

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Devolo Updates Home Control



Devolo LogoLast night Devolo pushed out a major update to its Home Control platform, providing additional functionality in four new areas. The update occurred painlessly on my system and while I wasn’t able to fully explore the new features, I’ve managed a few screenshots.

Devolo New DevicesFirst, there are three new supported devices with two sensors, flood and humidity, and one actuator, a siren, which are all coming soon. It’s not clear if the siren is for internal or external use though it will be useful in rounding out the security features of the system.

 

Second, there’s now integration with Philips Hue lighting system and Home Control picks up the configuration directly from the Hue hub, inserting the available lights into the list of devices. This addresses what I felt was one of the main flaws with Home Control and brings it up to scratch, as it were.

Devolo with HueThird, Home Control has improved third party integration with web services and this comes in two parts. The first is what Devolo are calling “scene sharing” and this is the ability to trigger remotely a scene (e.g. living room lights on). Effectively, this allows integration with tools like IFTTT, so you can do things like “If my GPS says I’m within 300m of home and it’s dark, then turn the hall and porch lights on.”

Devolo 3rd Party IntegrationThe second part of this integration allows the Home Control system to access other devices by URL, e.g. http://……, so if another device can “do stuff” via a web address, then Home Control can potentially access it. I haven’t explored this area but I imagine you could use this to integrate with other 3rd party devices like webcams that often present a web-based view, as well as working with IFTTT.

Finally, the dashboard functionality has been improved with the option to now have multiple dashboards so that it’s easier to construct different views of your smart world. For example, you could have a room-based dashboard or a device-based dashboard that could be used for a security view of the home. Again, I didn’t get a chance to play with this functionality so can’t comment in more detail, but it looks handy.

Overall it’s a worthwhile update that brings some much needed functionality to Home Control.


Google Proposes a Series of “Professional Women” Emoji



Google LogoGoogle has designed thirteen brand new emoji in order to increase the representation of professional women in emoji. The purpose is to highlight the diversity of women’s careers and to empower young women and girls everywhere.

Google has presented these new emoji to the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to creating standardized emojis and text characters that are used across different platforms (such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM and more). One of the people who created the report at Google is Mark Davis who is the President and CoFounder of the Unicode Consortium. It seems that there is a very good chance that Google’s professional women emoji will be accepted.

Google would like to pursue a path to standardize the professional women emoji by EOY ’16. (The male versions of the newly designed professional emoji will appear sometime after that.)

The proposed emoji list of the newly designed professional women emoji include representations of women in the following industries:

Professional Women Emojis 1

Business – Office worker, accountant, banker, manager, financial adviser, tax preparer, clerk

Healthcare – Doctor, physician, MD

Healthcare – Nurses, dentist, anesthesiologist, radiologist

Science – Scientist, chemist, lab technician

Education – graduate

Technology – Software engineer, person coding, working on a laptop

Industry – Factory worker, metallurgical worker, mechanic

Industry – High tech industry worker, assembly line worker

Industry – Mechanic, repair person, plumber, handy person

Professional Women Emoji 2

Farming – Farmer

Food Service – Chef, cook

Education – Teacher, professor

Music – Rocker, rockstar


Disney Discontinues Production of Disney Infinity



Disney Infinity logoThere is something ironic about hearing that a video game system with the word “infinity” in it’s name is about to end. Disney has decided to discontinue production of Disney Infinity. This will likely be sad news for kids (and adults, for that matter) who were having fun playing the games and collecting the figures.

Disney Infinityfor those who are unaware, was a video game series that included interactive action figures. The latest version, Disney Infinity 3.0, was a video game disc that was needed for a person to play with all of their 3.0 figures, play sets, power discs, and Toy Box Expansion games. (It also allowed people to use their 1.0 and 2.0 figures and power discs).

In short, Disney Infinity was a video game system that incorporated figures into the game. Players needed to purchase a physical figure so that they could play as that Disney character in the game. It was also possible to buy play sets. Some have referred to this type of video gameplay as “toys-to-life”.

The Disney Interactive website has an update about Disney Infinity. It was written by SPV & GM of Disney Infinity, John Blackburn. The first sentence is probably the most informative: “By now you may have heard the news that we have made the difficult decision to discontinue production of Disney Infinity.”

The update also notes that there are two final retail releases coming, including three new characters from Alice Through the Looking Glass later this month, and the Finding Dory Play Set that will be launched in June.

Game Informer reported that Disney is also shuttering Infinity studio Avalanche, Disney’s internal studio that developed the Disney Infinity game. The implication seems to be that Disney is pulling out of the video game publishing arena.  Ars Technica pointed out that Disney Infinity launched in 2013 to compete with Activision’s Skylanders, which was another toys-to-life video game.

 


RollyCat Pet Toy at Gadget Show Live



RollyCatCats are possibly the laziest animals on the planet but they shouldn’t be completely indolent. They need regular exercise but it needs to be on their terms and most cats won’t go on a lead for walkies. At Gadget Show Live, Raido from Wazombi Labs tells me about RollyCat, the world’s first cat companion and fitness tracker.

RollyCat BallThe RollyCat is small remote controlled ball which coaxes the cat into play. It can work in two modes, one manual and one automatic. In the manual mode, the owner can control the ball from his (or her) smartphone via a RollyCat app. In automatic mode, the RollyCat teases the cat with the occasional movements to encourage the cat to play.

RollyCat AppMuch like any activity tracker, the cat’s play is tracked and recorded in the smartphone app. At the end of the day, the owner can review the cat’s activity and see whether the pussy has been getting enough exercise for the breed, age and weight. The RollyCat learns from the cat’s behaviour to encourage it to play at the most active time.

The RollyCat charges wirelessly via a small pad and communicates with the owner’s smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. The ball can go around 4 days between charges.

Regrettably, RollyCat’s Indiegogo campaign didn’t reach its target of $50,000 so the project is on hold. If there’s any further news on the RollyCat, I’ll update GNC readers when I hear.


iClever Outdoor Wireless Speaker Review



iClever LogoOn review here is the iClever Outdoor Wireless Speaker IC-BTS03. It’s an IP65 water resistant Bluetooth speaker with a 10 hour playtime. Perfect for outdoor tunes! Let’s take a look.

The iClever Speaker is a orange and black cuboid with speaker grilles on two sides, controls on the top, inputs on one side and a camera mount on the bottom with a rubber carrying strap on one corner. Roughly, 10 x 9 x 5 cm, there’s a bit of a ruggedness to the speaker too with a rubberised exterior and informal drop tests show that it’ll stand up to the odd accident. IP65 specifies that the speaker is totally protected against dust (6) and it’s sealed against low pressure water (5). Basically, it means that it’s ok to get splashed or dropped in shallow water.

iClever Wireless Outdoor Speaker

In the cardboard box, there’s the speaker, a USB-to-microUSB cable, a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm jack cable and instructions. The USB cable is used for charging only and can’t be used to play music from a PC or laptop. Both the microUSB charging port and the aux in socket are under a rubber flap that needs to be peeled away to get access. iClever Wireless Outdoor SpeakerWhen charging, the sole LED on the front will light up red and it’s green when the aux socket is in use.

Across the top, the controls are straightforward – power, volume down, play/pause/answer, volume up. When turned on, the BTS03 is straight into pairing mode with the LED flashing blue. A voice helpfully intones, “Power on. Pairing”. You can then connect to the speaker in the normal way, receiving “Connected” when done and the LED goes a solid blue. As a bonus, the iClever can work as a speakerphone too – it’s kind of fun (or bonkers) if you are with a group of friends.

On the bottom, there’s a standard camera screw fitting which makes it compatible with a wide range of mounting accessories.

iClever Wireless Outdoor SpeakerThat’s the physical out of the way. What does it sound like? Well, if you are expecting this to sound like a $500 Sonos, then you are going to be disappointed. If you expect it to be a $30 5W portable speaker weighing less than 300g that you can throw into a bag for a day at the beach, you’re going to be happy enough. The sound is clear, with vocals coming across well. As you’d expect, the bass is under-represented but crank up the volume and there’s a fair beat. It’s not massively loud but it fills a room well enough.

Overall the iClever Outlook Wireless Speaker ticks all the boxes for an outdoor speaker. Semi-rugged, long battery life, splashproof and reasonably loud. It’s available now from Amazon.com (US$30) and Amazon.co.uk for GB£17.

Thanks to iClever for the review unit. Unboxing below.


GNC #1115 Facebook Editorial Agenda?



Appears Facebook may be playing favorites when it comes to the content it presents the masses. Several editors have come forward and presented concerning evidence that shows Facebook may need to look at how it’s not serving at least 50% of it’s users.

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