Tag Archives: beta

Overwatch Beta Launches Today!

OverwatchOverwatch is the newest video game created by Blizzard Entertainment. The game has not yet been released, but the beta launches today, October 27, 2015. It will launch in both the Americas and Europe gameplay regions at the same time.

Overwatch is a highly anticipated team-based shooter game. Those of you who attended Blizzcon 2014 had the opportunity to play it at the conference. There has been a lot of hype about the game, and many of the people I follow on social media are excited about it.

The first phase of the beta that is being launched today is a Closed Beta. It is invite-only. The number of players invited into this beta test will be extremely limited.

The goal for the Closed Beta is “100% gameplay feedback”. Blizzard wants players to discuss and dissect every hero, map, ability, and other aspects of the game.

From time to time, Blizzard will open up the beta test for Beta Test Weekends. The main goal of the Beta Test Weekends will be a stress test. They will “open up the floodgates and call on an army to overwhelm” their hardware. These stress tests will be hardware and tech-focused, and will include a restricted number of heroes, maps, and gameplay modes. Feedback, of course, will be welcome.

Want to get into the beta? Be aware that the Overwatch beta will be Windows-only. If you are like me, and use a Mac, you are out of luck. You also have to have the Battle.Net desktop app installed on your computer. Make sure to log into your Battle.net account and opt-in to the Overwatch beta.

The Overwatch beta will include something new – Battle.Net Voice Chat. The goal seems to be to enable players who got into the beta to test out the Voice Chat. If it works out well, perhaps players will use it instead of Mumble or TeamSpeak while they play Blizzard’s games.

Steam Launches Beta for Steam Broadcasting

Steam Broadcasting beta logoSteam has launched the beta for Steam Broadcasting. I think it is clear that this will put Steam in direct competition with Twitch for both viewers and streamers of video gaming content.

Steam Broadcasting is currently in beta. As of December 2, 2014, people can watch their friends play video games on Steam “with the click of a button”. The beta is open to everyone on Steam who wants to participate in it.

To get started, all you need to do is opt-in to the Steam Client beta through the Steam Settings panel. For now, concurrent viewing may be limited as the beta is scaled up to support a broader audience.

To watch a friend’s game via Steam Broadcasting, visit their profile and click on “Watch Game”. Or, you can use the Steam Client Friend’s List to open a window into a friend’s gameplay. Watching someone else’s game play through Steam Broadcasting does not require the viewer to own the game. There are no special fees attached for viewers, and it does not require the use of any additional app.

You can automatically broadcast your gaming session through Steam Broadcasting. Streamers get the option of choosing how open they want their stream to be. It ranges from allowing “anyone” to watch your games to limiting your viewers to only the friends that you specifically invite.

Steam is looking for feedback and suggestions on how to make Steam Broadcasting better. Visit the Steam Broadcasting Discussions forum if you would like to report a bug, ask a question, or share your experience with the Steam Broadcasting beta.

LEGO Minifigures Online Game is in Beta

LEGO Minifigures Online Beta logoLooking for an adventure video game that has been designed with children in mind? The LEGO Minifigures Online game is now in beta. The game is made by Funcom, who also are makers of The Secret World (and other games).

The LEGO Minifigures online game involves collecting all the minifigures that are represented in the game and taking them on grand adventures. There is a Pirate World, a Space World, and a Medieval World.

Players choose a minifigure as their playable character. Each one has special abilities. Players can interact with the environment in the game by smashing walls and building machines. It is an adventure type of game that includes a story line that is geared for children.

It is an online game, and parents are encouraged to play it with their children. LEGO Minifigures Online is a Free-to-Play game. As you may have expected, it includes optional in game purchases. However, it promises that the game can be played completely without requiring players (or their parents, to be more accurate) to spend real world money on it. The game requires children who are under the age of 13 to have to rely on their parents for in-game purchases.

Memberships can be purchased for 1 month, 6 months, or 12 months (and are priced at $7.99, $39.99 and $69.99). The more you spend, the more “extras” it unlocks. It should be noted that you cannot use the chat function unless you have paid for a membership.

Right now, the game is in beta, which means that things within it in could change. Those who would like to give the game a try must download it and be using a Windows PC. The Funcom website says the game will launch for PC, iOS and Android during the second half of 2014.

One big advantage of having your kids play with virtual LEGOs, instead of physical ones, is obvious. You greatly reduce your risk of stepping on a LEGO that your kids left on the floor!

Swype is Out of Beta

Swype Swype came out of beta today. If you are unfamiliar with Swype it is an alternative keyboard for Android. One of the reasons I love Android is the ability to find the keyboard that you like. The Swype keyboard has several modes, which they named, the Typer, the Tapper, the Swyp’er and the Dictator. Typer are those people who use both hands to type and don’t look at the results, (your typing teacher is beaming), Tappers look at the results as they type, Swype’er swipe from one letter to the next, and Dictators like to dictate their messages. Swype primary method is swiping. If you are like me and grew up learning to type on a typewriter, swiping can take some time to get use to. The key is not to think too much and just let your fingers swipe. I find if I start thinking about what I am swiping I tend to make more mistakes. Just start swiping and the app will predicts what you are trying to type. Yes, sometimes it will predict incorrectly, but over time it will get better the more you use it. You can easily go from swiping to typing or dictating depending on your mode.

Swype was brought by Nuance in October 2011. Nuance is the maker of Dragon Dictate the application that allows you to dictate your messages. If you get tired of swiping then Swype voice dictation option is available to you. Because is based on Nuance it does recognize your voice fairly well. Swype learns your tendencies the more you use it. It will pick up words that you use all time like your name or the city you live in, etc. If you connect your social networks Facebook, Twitter and Google Swype will personalize your usages. Swype also supports dialects and will load local words.

Swype is available in the Google Play Store at .99 cents for a limited time. There is also a 30 day free trial version available. I recommend trying the 30 day trial version first, I think if you give it a chance you will end up getting the full version before the 30 day trial version is over.

Install and Run The Google Music Android App

With my invitation to Google music secured, the Google Music Manager installed on my PC, and 90 GB of music slowly making its way to the cloud, there is one final hurdle to overcome.  That is installing the Google Music app on my Droid X.  After all, what good is all of this if I can’t have my music on my mobile device wherever I go?  So, that is what we are going to walk through now.  We will install and explore this service together as novices.

Start off by searching the Android Market for “Google Music”.  The official app should be the very first result.

Click to download and install the app.  It’s a small file and should take less than one minute.  Once it has installed you can launch the app for the first time.  Oddly it shows up under the simple name of “Music” as opposed to “Google Music”.

Once launched, the interface was simple but it also told me that there were “no music files available”.  I had assumed I would need to log into my Google account, but there was no option to do so anywhere within the program.

As it turns out, the install should prompt you to associate an account with the app – mine had not done that.  I uninstalled, re-downloaded, and installed again.  This can actually take some work and Googling to get it working.  There are some crazy solutions out there, some of the them are pure voodoo.  But, voodoo isn’t real, and I can’t say exactly how to get it to work, all I can tell you is to keep  trying.  This can prove to be frustrating and different solutions are probably available for different model devices.

(Yes, I know I didn’t remove my email from the above screenshot, I will just trust all of you not to spam me, and welcome you to contact me with questions or comments).  So, now we are in business.  Since I only have one account associated with my phone I did not have to choose it, but was automatically linked.  At this point you receive a welcome screen – and my congratulations for persevering through all of the crap that Google is putting their Music beta testers through on Android.

And now, finally we arrive at the finish line.  The player is open and shows all of the music that uploaded from your PC to the cloud.  Press the menu button and you get the options seen at the bottom of the following screenshot.  Scroll across the top of the screen menu and you can choose from artist, album, genre, etc.

You may have a LOT of trouble getting here, but once installed, Google Music is pretty darn cool.  If you haven’t yet signed up for the service then you can request an invitation at Google Music.  Expect a delay of at least two weeks before hearing anything.  Consider that your patience warm-up to installing the Android app…

First Look At Firefox 4.0 Beta 7

firefox logoIf you are using the  Firefox 4 Beta edition then you may have noticed a couple days ago that Beta 7 became available.  You may even have received it automatically.  If you didn’t then go ahead and download it.  I have been using it for a couple of days and I like what I have found so far.

The first thing you will notice is the speed.  It’s faster than any previous version of Firefox.  This is relative of course – all modern browsers are pretty quick.  Chrome is generally considered the fastest at the moment, but I think Beta 7 can, at least, match it.  According to Mozilla this is due to new graphics acceleration and the compiler, JagerMonkey.

There also seems to better support of Add-ons, which has always lacked in past Beta versions.  I only use a handful of add-ons, but all of them now work except Evernote Web Clipper.

As for graphical changes, I have only noticed one.  It’s minor, but I will mention it anyway.  And honestly I think it does provide a better look than Beta 6.  It’s the “loading” signal in the tabs.  I can’t really describe the prior animation, but here’s what the new one looks like.

But, I saved the best part for last.  and I need to temper it by pointing out that this version has only been available, and in use by me, for two days.  However, if you were using Beta 6 and experienced occasional problems with Flash crashing and web sites freezing then, at this moment, I can say those issues appear to have been resolved.  The problem wasn’t rampant either.  An occasional web page would show the Lego blocks in place of Flash and every once in a while, usually in Google Reader, the browser would freeze and I would have to open Task Manger to close it and then restart it.  For the past two days I have had neither of these problems though.

The bottom line is, if you’re using the latest stable release of Firefox 3 then upgrade if you are adventurous and a little bit tech savvy.  If you are using Beta 6 then upgrade ASAP.

Firefox 4 Beta 4

Recently Mozilla released the Beta 4 version of Firefox 4.0.  Like all Firefox Betas in the past it will break your add-ons, but it also adds some REALLY cool new eye-candy.  The biggest additions are Panorama and Sync, but there’s also a slick new interface.

The first thing you’ll notice is the interface – specifically the toolbars.  It’s not vastly different and you won’t be lost, but it’s definitely different.  It’s cleaner and more modern and the tabs are in a different place.  It has a very “Windows 7-ish” type of interface.  I found the tabs being moved to a different location to be the toughest part to get used to.  At the far right of the tabs bar you will will find options to group your tabs and also to list all of your tabs.  If you work with lots of tabs, like I do, this is a great new feature.  The other toolbars are all there, just as you know them, but the icons are different and fewer.  That part will not slow anyone down and it really does look better.

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The next thing you will notice is what Mozilla is calling “Panorama”.  It’s essentially a Window’s 7 type view that shows all of your opens tabs when you hover over the Firefox icon in your Window’s toolbar.  It sounds simple, and it is, but it is also very useful.  Once you hover over the icon then you will have to choose which tab you want to click on.

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The last big feature in version 4 is called Sync.  You can actually download a Sync add-on for Firefox 3.5 and 3.6 here.  It allows you to encrypt and save your settings, bookmarks, passwords, and other cuntomizations so that you can not only restore them if you change computers, but also keep them the same across multiple PC’s and mobile devices.  You can set it up by clicking Tools and then Set Up Sync.

And that brings me to the add-ons.  As I said, Firefox betas frequently break these, but they are normally fixed quickly.  Sync is an obvious swipe at my favorite Firefox add-on, Xmarks, which has done all of this (except customizations) for a while now.  I set it up, but for now I consider it a backup solution in case Xmarks has a problem.  Until it’s been tested and retested I don’t want to trust my settings to it.  It’s an interesting feature though, and building it in to the browser puts Mozilla at the forefront, once again, in the browser battle.

As of this writing the Firefox add-on, Xmarks, has been updated to be compatible with 4.0, but most are still not there.

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Despite the lack of support for add-ons, which, as I said, is common in Firefox betas, this latest version is worth checking out.  And, add-ons are coming quickly.  The interface, with its aero-glass look, plays nicely in Windows 7.  Sync is cool and Panorama makes it especially worth the download.  You may not want to put it on your production machine quite yet – not because of stability issues because there aren’t any that I can see – but, because of the add-ons that you may need.  If you don’t rely on those, though, then go for it.

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