The Compensation

I know it’s been a long time since my last post and I don’t have any valid excuse apart from being busy at university. I have been occupied right from applying to colleges, anxiously waiting to get into one to finally settling myself in it.

As a compensation for not posting any article, I am filling in with all that has happened until now in my life. First off, I got into a university in England. Nottingham Trent to be precise. I am currently doing my undergrad in Computer Science (Games Technology) over here. The college is really amazing with a beautiful campus and I am absolutely loving it.

As I landed in the United Kingdom, I got myself a few additions to my device collection to make quite a nice gaming/work setup with a PS4 or an Apple TV with gaming support (next article)  to be soon added onto that. Here’s a picture of it all right below.

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It’s got an Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display, iPad, iPhone 5, Bose Companion 5 Speakers, PS3, Alienware 17 (with the Alienware TactX Headset and Mouse), Xbox One Day One edition and a Nokia Lumia 1020 (That’s right, I’ve always wanted the whole MS suite too). As you can see, that is pretty much my life on my course and I am loving it.

My life here has been quite eventful and hence pretty hard to concentrate on each and every one of my hobbies. Now that I’m settled I am planning on posting a few photographs of my university campus. I don’t currently have my DSLR but I do have a 41 MP camera on the Lumia 1020 which takes pretty good shots like the one below showing that beautiful Day One edition controller (Yep, I’m in love with it).

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As for the experience, in addition to the fun filled gaming, programing and learning part, I am really having one of the best times of my life. The people here are unexpectedly polite, generous and, while I’m at it, have an amazing accent. I’ve made quite a lot of friends while in parties (night clubs and Xbox Live) or by just bumping into people in my course or student accommodation. I am definitely happy with the friends I’ve made and can’t wait to meet the rest.

The food too, like everything else, is plain incredible all the way from the Cadbury chocolates to the Full English to the English roast. They all just define perfection. Been having it on a daily basis for quite a while now and I still am not bored of it. I am pretty sure I haven’t experienced all of British food but I am definitely getting there and I like almost all of it. There are just a few changes that I just don’t understand like “chips” being “crisps” and “fries” being “chips” here. On that note, I also do love their Fish and Chips.

On the whole, the English experience is more than a delight to me. Also, in addition to finally continuing to post technologic, photographic and occasional personal articles on this blog, I’ve decided to start posting a few of my gameplay videos on YouTube with one already uploaded for you guys to check out. Thanks for reading. Next article coming up soon!

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Upcoming Apple Event

Ten days from now will be one of the most important days in Apple history. The ultra large corporation is hosting an event where they will release the sequels to their existing operating systems. Alongside these, Apple, for the first time, is reportedly launching two iPhones at once. The next generation iPad and a refreshed MacBook line up are expected too. Among all, the most anticipated news in the event is announcement regarding the new product category that CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, teased at Apple’s Q2 investor call.

OS X Mavericks is a breakthrough upgrade for OS X. The most notable features would be iBooks, Maps, True multi display support, iCloud Keychain and Safari 7. The next generation Safari outperformed all of its competition in benchmarks from 1.5 to even 4 fold the performance and despite all this power it has a really low CPU usage. OS X increases an already top of the line battery life leaving the rest in dust. The introduction of iBooks is beyond extraordinary with a personal library stored in iCloud and taking notes on books that is also updated on all your devices to reading multiple books at once. iCloud even remembers what page you were on. Apple Maps is now on OS X with tight integration between the iPhone, iPad and Mac. Apple Maps itself will likely be shown off too considering the recent acquisitions of various map and map related social applications by the firm. One of the most appealing yet basic feature to me is Finder tabs. Finder (OS X’s equivalent to Windows Explorer) now allows various different windows to be grouped into one window with tabs for each. It also allows you to go fullscreen. Overall, OS X Mavericks is of the most interesting and important upgrade to OS X.

iOS 7 has been revamped completely from ground up. The user interface is different yet simple for existing users to use without  any difficulty. More importance given to simplicity, colors and functionality and less of skeuomorphism is what Apple adopted with iOS 7. Control Center is a brand new feature brought into iOS which allows users to toggle the important settings like Bluetooth or WiFi and also to get to your essential applications quickly. It also has a torch to toggle your iPhone’s flash whenever you want. Multitasking has been taken to the next level (finally) on iOS with fullscreen cards of running apps above the traditional icons in the multitask view. One of the advancements are in Siri which is even more integrated into the OS like never before. You can now toggle settings, look up your friends’ tweets, ask more questions and search Wikipedia. Additionally, Siri’s UI has been updated too with a lot of refinement with futuristic looks and a less robotic voice.

Rumors and alleged tips are all across the web stating Apple will be releasing two iPhones, one of which is a first of the kind, budget iPhone, along with the usual next generation iPhone. The budget iPhone, allegedly iPhone 5C, will be a low spec iPhone with an attractive offer. The only logical explanation as to why this is different from the iPhone 4, would be its lifetime. Unlike the iPhone 4, which has lived its 3 year major OS update guarantee, the iPhone 5C will most likely receive equal future updates as the iPhone 5S. The iPhone 5S also has a few interesting rumors of its own. The next generation iPhone supposedly will be packing a fingerprint scanner which is another first of the kind upgrade. Alongside that, we can expect a faster processor with pumped up graphics. The iPhone 5S might also have a dual LED flash. Unfortunately, not much can be said for the reported iPad 5 except for the usual bump in performance. It is also safe to say the next generation iPad Mini will not be making an appearance in the event.

The Macbook Air was just refreshed with Intel’s latest Haswell processors and an incredibly upgraded battery life and hence its elder sibling, the MacBook Pro, is likely to receive the same with a few more upgrades especially in terms of performance. The MacBook Pro with Retina Display is also likely to receive a better processor and, maybe, a better graphics processing unit too. Other than this information, not much can be said for the MacBook line up. The new Mac Pro is also most likely to be displayed in the event, possibly, with its price.

Last, but certainly and far from the least, the new product category is one the most anticipated products in the event. Rumors say it will be a smartwatch, aptly named, iWatch. If the talks of this device are true, it could be a second screen for your iPhone/iPad that can control your device using bluetooth and since it is a wearable device it will be for most common and easy tasks to help you perform them without having to remove your iPhone/iPad from your pocket or bag. Other than this, not much can be said about it but Apple, being the company it is is surely to give you a real and more justifiable reason to purchase it. Another possible outcome for this unannounced product is a gaming console. Apple has the technology to support gaming. FaceTime, iMessage and GameCenter already exist with millions of existing users with GameCenter being the most popular social gaming network for handheld devices. Apple already are known to make the best partnerships with developers and this could easily be extended into the gaming world. The firm could incorporate gaming into the apple TV and with a Thunderbolt port for connecting to your Thunderbolt display, the Apple game console can be a large success. Either way, the new category is welcome to the electronic filled world.

Grand Theft Auto V

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The release of Grand Theft Auto V is finally closing in. Rockstar’s latest game will be the fifteenth addition (inclusion of DLC content) to the largest and notorious franchise. An introduction of this game, in brief, is a humor filled, mission based storyline, and intensely action packed open world game.

The gameplay is unlike any of its predecessors. For the first time in the world of GTA, the story is played as not one but three criminal co-workers living their lives worlds apart from each other. The characters you will be playing in this game are, as Rockstar mentions, the following. Firstly, Franklin is a street hustler looking for real opportunities and serious money. The second being Michael, a professional ex-con whose retirement is a lot less rosy than he hoped it would be. Lastly, Trevor is a violent maniac driven by the chance of a cheap high and the next big score. Together, this crew of criminals take up, risking everything, daring and highly dangerous heists that could set them up for life.

The map of this game is unimaginably large varying from the rich and beautiful wilderness of Blaine County to the once skyscraper filled and currently uncertain economy city of Los Santos. The variety of options given to the player with the cashed in loot from the heists are countless. Customizing cars, getting tattoos, hunting and being hunted, scuba diving and underwater exploration, meeting random freaks spread through the city and the county, flying planes, buying arsenal from ammunition stores, cycling, playing tennis and golf, visiting meaningless websites on computers, purchasing real estates and also buying stocks in the market are still just a few pleasures players can engage in while managing the characters’ own lives too.

The reticles of the guns have also been revamped and inspired by the company’s previous hit, Max Payne 3. This gives more precision and with the advanced physics, the game provides accurate shots on the targets. Character and car movements have also largely been improved giving the player a more real-life simulation of Grand Theft Auto. As for the graphics, it is a major step up from GTA IV. Reflection on cars, puddles, roads after rain, faces are brilliant especially for a game as large as itself. The multiplayer in this game, based on the teaser from Rockstar Games, show an equally vast online gameplay as the single player with players flying recklessly close to skyscrapers, others in cars just driving down the roads of Los Santos and a few aimlessly shooting at each other while one can watch the whole of this insanity from the hundredth or so floor of a building overlooking the Metropolis.

Overall, the only worry, for me, is the timeline of this release. It took roughly five whole years for this game from the last GTA. It might take a while for the PS4 and Xbox One version of Grand Theft Auto to arrive. Other than this, one can say, with ease, the game will be one of the largest selling games and will also help give a bit more life to the current generation consoles. Grand Theft Auto V will be available on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on the 17th of September in three different versions. Standard, Special and Collector’s editions can all be pre-ordered on various different retailers depending on your local area.

Review of The Last Of Us

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I know I should have posted this earlier but The Last of Us was too entertaining and gripping to leave even after completion. Pre-ordering the game and the moment of receiving it on release date was absolutely fantastic. The sole competitor for that was the gameplay itself. The game is nothing but top-notch. Brilliant storyline with scientific reasoning (not arbitrary imagination), beautiful graphics and extensive detail, one of the largest games ever made and definite Game Of The Year nominee are just a few points I can mention off the top of my head.

The story is set mainly in a post semi-apocalyptic era where the cordyceps fungi have infected too many to count. The two main characters (whom you get to play as) are Joel and Ellie. They aim to reach the fireflies first along with Tess and later two other people. The journey when begun was to end in a few hours but the detour turns into a 3 season adventure through lands filled with either the infected or scavengers and sometimes the US military (previously explained). The humanoids are further split into three different categories on the basis of time of infection. Namely, Runner/Stalker, Clicker and Bloater. Runners and Stalkers are newly infected humans and are easily beaten. Clickers are those who have undergone quite a long time with the infection leading to the decay of their heads with the fungus thus leading to blindness. These can only hear noise but are much more harmful and need to be dealt with carefully. The last of them are the bloaters who have been infected for a few years and have created excess fungal protrusions acting as an armor from most explosives. As the name suggests, Joel and Ellie are the only ones among the characters to make it to the fireflies where Ellie, instead of being treated, is being used a vaccination creation which will lead to her death. Joel, who once hated the fourteen year old looks at her as his daughter and rescues her from the treacherous doctors.

If you still were not content enough with the storyline, Naughty Dog have taken care of that. The game has a lot of collectibles spread throughout the game. Pills improve Joel/Ellie reactions and skills. Training Manuals help them use their firearms more efficiently and wisely. The rest of the artifacts found trigger small alterations in the general gameplay. For instance, combination codes found in notes or books allow you to open safes that contain surprises. Even your weapons can be modified at workbenches by collecting the right gear and tools along the way. Small optional conversations can also be triggered at times so you do not get bored even to the slightest extent.

As always, Naughty Dog has created yet another game ready to outclass its competitors. Every aspect of this game prompts those who have not purchased it yet to do so right now. Lastly, Playstation FTW!

Playstation 4 Review

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Sony presented their contender for the Xbox One and it is fierce! The all new Playstation 4 has a brand new stunning hardware design with a user interface a lot like Sony’s Mediascape UI. As for the specifications, it certainly is meant for next-gen gaming. With an 8 gigabyte RAM, a 1.84 teraflop capable GPU, an octa-core processor and the beautiful dual layered Blu-ray drive it, pretty much, can handle anything game developers give it.

One of the main advantages for Playstation are its exclusives. The list is almost endless with the most popular franchises like Uncharted, Killzone, inFamous, God of War, Little Big Planet, Gran Turismo and SOCOM. Killzone Shadow Fall and inFamous: Second Son are one of them that will be launch titles. Just like the Xbox, Playstation do not just have exclusive games but have exclusive content in multi platform games too. Watch_Dogs is to have a whole extra hour of gameplay on the PS4 exclusively.

As for the contender of Xbox SmartGlass, Sony have announced the soon to be released Playstation App that will serve as a second screen on the phone or tablet for games. Alongside this feature, the app allows users to download content to their PS4 while they are away. Messaging fellow PS4 users can also be done on the go with this application. Sony have proven to be not just a strong competition but a very fierce one. The Playstation App will be available on Android and iOS phones and tablets but not on Windows Phone or Windows 8.

Not only does it have an amazing hardware, software and additional companion software but it also has sensational network. The playstation network is free on the PS3. Online gaming on the Ps4, however, will require a premium subscription of Playstation Plus membership. Sony have also announced that games will be region free and not locked to the country of purchase. PSN on the Playstation 4 will also support a friends circle of 1000 friends. coming along with all these features is the new version of Remote Play which allows PS Vita owners to use stream PS4 games on their Vita completely over the network.

Playstation does have its drawbacks too. Despite its games being region free, the playstation account’s region cannot be changed. If you move across the globe, you’ll need to make a new account. There is a cumbersome workaround for this though. You will need to refresh your PS Wallet with a PayPal account every time you renew a PS Plus membership subscription or buy new items off the store. Another large disadvantage Sony haven’t taken care of in PS4 is the inability to change your online ID even if you are willing to pay. Sony’s competitor, Xbox, also offers what it cannot. A whole ecosystem. Microsoft have Xbox deeply integrated into both their operating system, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. The ecosystem is also large. Xbox One, PCs and Windows Phones have Xbox, Bing and Skype integrated right into them. As for social networking, Microsoft’s large partnership with Facebook gives Xbox an edge in that field.

Although the disadvantages seem to even out the odds, it comes down to personal choice. For those who can look past it, Playstation 4 is definite buy.

iOS 7 And More

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We’re nearing WWDC and a lot of rumors have spread all around. Most biggest of the lot would be the highly anticipated iOS 7. Jonathan Ive, known to be the hardware designer of Apple devices, for the first time, was involved in the software side. iOS and OS X is being revamped with major user interface changes. Gone will be the skeuomorphic (lifelike) look, in comes flatter with decrease in the non uniform colorful design. Many complained about iOS having a “boring and old” look. Now that it will be adopting a brand new and more refined look with the largest application collection, would it be the Android and Windows Phone killer? Only time will answer that.

There is, however, one catch to the UI change. When the iPhone 5 was released, the extra real estate in the screen posed a problem to all the developers as they were made to update their applications to fill it. Although the iPhone 5 runs legacy apps, it runs it with black bars on top and the bottom of the app and, practically speaking, its application collection began as a tiny subset of the existing collection. With the new user interface, all those developers would have to rebuild all their applications suiting the latest interface for two screen sizes or maybe more if Apple goes with a larger screen for the next iPhone. Same goes for the iPad. I am looking forward to see, in WWDC, how Apple manages this.

Reports of a refreshed Mac Pro have also been passed around. What interests me in this bit of news is not the Mac Pro itself but the possibility of OS X now being a more developer friendly OS. Why I believe this is because of the fact that consumers generally do not go for a workstation. The Mac Pro does not just make you reach deep down your pockets also but also constitutes processing power that is needed only for power hungry tasks like game developing and nothing less. OS X, in terms of application development, was almost neglected in comparison to Windows and even the company’s own iOS. With all that, Mac sales were still large numbers. And if that was not enough, this new revamped version of the Mac OS that can, potentially, bring in many developers, sales for the Mac would rise at an alarming rate.

Although this developer conference is about the future of iOS and OS X, it would be more than exhilarating if the much awaited, iWatch will be previewed. That may be far fetched but what we can expect alongside the two operating systems would be the Spotify contender by Apple, iRadio. That is all for now. Be sure not to miss the largest and most anticipated unveiling at WWDC on Monday!

Views on Xbox One

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The much anticipated successor of the Xbox 360 was revealed by Microsoft under the name, Xbox One, over a week ago. Major improvements on the hardware and software side including Kinect have been made.

Xbox One runs on a faster octa-core chipset and 16 times the previous memory with a massive 500 gigabyte hard drive to store all your game, music and video content. As predicted, the latest Microsoft console now plays Blu-ray disks which allows game developers to create large games without leaving details in graphics unattended to. Kinect, too, received major updates with all new optics and an enhanced microphone to pick your voice with minimal noise. The new controller now has an inbuilt battery with a largely improved ergonomic design to fit in your hands like they were made to hold it. Alongside the pumped up hardware, the console also brings a whole new revamped design. The detail clearly marks the efforts gone into creating it.

Xbox Live has been improvised upon too. What used to be powered by 500 servers when launched is now running on 300,000 servers which claimed to be more powerful than the computing power of the entire world in 1999. Consoles can now remotely access each other. If you were wondering why that would be necessary, moments where you find an easter egg in a game or find yourself stuck in a level, you could show your friend your discovery or in the other case, ask any one of your friends who have completed the game to help you out without having to come over. Other features like being able to show off your best moments recorded from games and the all new matchmaking technology poses a large threat to its competition.

Finally, as a playstation gamer, I find myself attracted to the Xbox One and recommend it without thinking further. Sony need to put up an exquisite show on June 10th with their PS4 reveal to compete against this monster of a gaming machine. Be sure not to miss the event.