Diablo III Launching May 15

Great news, folks. Blizzard has finally announced officially their release date for Diablo III which is set for May 15.

“After many years of hard work by our development team and months of beta testing by hundreds of thousands of dedicated players around the world, we’re now in the homestretch,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We look forward to putting the final polish on Diablo III over the next two months and delivering the ultimate action-RPG experience to gamers worldwide starting on May 15.”

In Diablo III, players take on the role of one of five heroic characters — barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, or demon hunter — and engage in combat with endless legions of evil. In your journey, you will explore diverse and perilous settings, grow in experience and ability, acquire artifacts of incredible power, and meet key characters who’ll join them in battle or aid them in other ways.

One of the most interesting things in Diablo III is the auction house – a place where the players can trade their hard-earned treasures. You’ll be able to buy and sell weapons, armor, and other valuable items in the auction house in exchange for in-game gold. Players will also have the option to receive real-world currency for auction house sales, which they can apply to their Battle.net Balance for the purchase of a variety of digital products through Battle.net, including Diablo III auction house items, or cash out through a third-party payment service such as PayPal in most regions.

Diablo III will be available for Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7 and Macintosh at a suggested price of $59.99 USD for both the retail DVD-ROM version and the digital version sold directly from Blizzard.

For more information, please visit the official website.

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Review – Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Introduction

This year is going to be action packed. Apple is on track to deliver Mountain Lion OS X 10.8 to Mac users in late Summer/early Fall of this year. Microsoft is on track to deliver Windows 8 by the end of the calendar year. With all of the excitement coming from both companies throughout the year, you’re likely to hear a great deal on what’s hot and what’s not.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview was released at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 29-Feb-12.  This will likely be the last public release of Windows 8 before the software is released to manufacturing later this year.  Users of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview should be able to use the software until January of next year.

It’s clear that Microsoft is attempting to unify the computing experiences in the latest version of its operating system. With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft is clearly making a bid for the enterprise tablet market. The big question is – Have they made the impact that they were hoping for; and will Windows 8 draw people away from iOS and Android?  Let’s take a long look at Windows 8 Consumer Preview and see how they did.

Microsoft has made the download of Windows 8 available in both executable and ISO 32bits and 64bits forms.  The total download, regardless of installation method requires 2.5GB of space. I initially had trouble getting the OS, but was able to successfully download the software by late Thursday evening, 01-Mar-12.  I used Microsoft’s new 5MB executable method.  After running the install stub, the complete installation downloaded and was placed in a folder called WindowsESD.

I’ve been playing with the OS for a while now; and while it can and does run on most any Windows capable machine, even under-powered PC’s like netbooks, it’s really not meant for traditional computers.  The interface is based on touch, and while you can use Windows 8 with a mouse and a keyboard, the OS really wants to be manipulated with your finger.  Using a Windows 8 powered PC with a mouse isn’t as natural an activity as you might think…

Continue reading…

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Galaxy S2 Owners Soon To Get Their Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung has finally announced that it has begun the process of rolling out an Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) update for its Galaxy S2 smartphones. Needless to say, the announcement will be music to the ears of Galaxy S2 owners.

While Galaxy S2 owners residing in Poland, Korea, Hungary and Sweden received the update on 13 March, UK owners of the smartphone will have to wait until 19 March to receive their much anticipated update for the new version of Android.

Samsung made the important announcement via its corporate Twitter account and the internet was rife with reactions as soon as it was made.

It has been a curious strategy by Samsung, who were an integral launch partner for Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Despite its Nexus smartphones being one of the first to use it, Galaxy S2 owners have been made to wait for the crucial update. Some have done so patiently, while others have expressed displeasure over the delay.

The Galaxy S2 has been a major force in the smartphone market for Samsung, selling more than 22 million units since the handset’s launch in February 2011, assisting Samsung to rise to its position as the largest seller of smartphones in the last quarter of 2011.

Considering that more than 52% of smartphones are Android-based, the length of time to introduce Android Ice Cream Sandwich for Galaxy S2 smartphones has left many owners puzzled.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich delivers a whole host of features improving usability. Key improvements include the refined touchscreen, far better multi-tasking abilities and a new security feature through which users can unlock their phone via face recognition.

Despite not giving a set date, Samsung has also announced that it plans to update and enhance its Tab and Note features with Android Ice Cream Sandwich in the not too distant future.

Now Samsung has announced a UK date of 19 March for its Android Ice Cream Sandwich update for its Galaxy S2 smartphones should owners be rejoicing? Well, yes and no, because the whole rollout will be staggered according to which network provider Galaxy S2 owners are using, which complicates the issue somewhat.

Once Google has supplied its Android Ice Cream Sandwich source code to a manufacturer like Samsung, the manufacturer must spend time ensuring the software works seamlessly on their hardware, which of course takes considerable time and resources, as it has done with the Galaxy S2.

However, this is only the initial phase, as network providers must then make sure the new software works perfectly with their network, or face the wrath of angry network users disappointed with the service they are being provided.

To date, network providers Three, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange have confirmed that they have received the update from Samsung and will be striving to release the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy S2 as close to the 19 March date as possible. However, O2 has announced it won’t be releasing the update to their customers until mid-April.

Galaxy S2 owners anxious for more news on the release of Android Ice Cream Sandwich for their smartphones should check the Samsung website and their network providers for updates.

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Origin is the place where all EA games come together

Eager to monetize each of their product in every possible way, EA launched a download platform similar to Steam but bearing only their homemade products. Known as Origin, the product is just another barrier for the player in his attempts of installing and playing a game.

We stumbled upon this manager when we wanted to get our hands on the Mass Effect 3 demo. It was required in order to run the free demo on our computer. I have nothing against exclusivity, but Origin is an annoying service.

If you wondered where EA Download Manager has disappeared to, you’ll be happy to know that it is now known as Origin. For any new EA release, Origin is the place where you should stop at, as it acts as a catalogue and store for their new titles. Sadly, older games are not always available, which is a bit of a missed mark on EAs part. If you are looking for deals you might want to go elsewhere, as pricing is usually the same as in retail stores, although there are occasionally bargains to be found.

In terms of functionality, the service is slower than Steam and it suffers from an unfinished interface which makes the user facing problems in browsing the service. One great feature is the ability to play some streaming demos in your web browser through the GaiKai service, so you can try before you buy. But forget the big titles.

If you only care about finding EA games then Origin is all you could wish for. While streaming demos are very convenient, Origin is far from a one-stop shop, even for EA’s catalogue, as older games are not always available. Origin is certainly good at what it does, but doesn’t do enough to be the only game manager you will ever need due to its forced exclusivity only on EA games.

read full review | download Origin

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Blender – Fully integrated 3D graphics creation suite

You can get an idea of Blender’s capabilities by listing some of the projects that have used it. For example, the makers of ‘Spiderman 2’ used Blender for 3D and character animation; it was used for the special effects in the film ‘Vendredi ou un autre Jour’, movies ‘Elephants Dream’, ‘Big Buck Bunny’, ‘Sintel’ and ‘Plumiferos’ a 3D CG feature film were made in Blender; as was the 3D game ‘Yo Frankie!’

Blender comes from the not-for-profit Blender Foundation. It is open-source, free to download and use but requires a considerable investment of time and effort from the serious user and rewards her with the flexible software and skills to model in 2 and 3D, animate, render and process images and videos to an award-winning professional standard. It includes related functionality: a game engine, fonts, motion capture and many, many more.

A good place to start is to become familiar with the interface which has been reworked in the recent version. Support comes in the way of texts, models and tutorials from the official website. A CMS gathers background information and lists many websites and groups maintained by Blender followers, (Blender Art Magazine, Blender Nation, and so on). If that is not enough a shelf of specialist commercial books offers guidance through the Blender product.

Read full review | Download Blender

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Free alternatives to Microsoft Office

Tell people that you can get a legal copy of a word processor or spreadsheet program that’s compatible with Microsoft Office and many of them will disbelieve you. But that’s the case with a range of open source alternatives including LibreOffice and OpenOffice. There’s no charge for the software, and no limitations or trial restrictions: you just download it and use it. For casual users at least, it will do almost everything they need.

With this type of software, the issue for most users isn’t everything that works, but rather the few things that don’t. LibreOffice gets off to a great start by modelling itself on the “classic look” of Microsoft Office that should be familiar to anyone who’s resisted the upgrade to the latest editions. The package works intuitively and there’ll be little need for help guides for most basic features — which is fortunate as help is somewhat lacking for some features.

Download LibreOffice

OpenOffice.org is another great open-source office suite, and includes applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and databases. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in a standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages, including Microsoft Office.

OpenOffice.org 3 is easy to learn. If you’ve used Microsoft Office, or a similar set of tools, OpenOffice.org will be familiar and comfortable to you. Best of all, OpenOffice.org 3 can be downloaded and used for free.

Having a free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office, especially for budget conscious families and students is important. Though Microsoft has a student version of Office, it’s still somewhat expensive. OpenOffice and LibreOffice offers Microsoft Office (as well as other) suite compatibility in a familiar environment. The tools are intuitive and easy to use, especially if you’ve used Office Suite products before, and at this price point, it’s really hard to beat.

Download OpenOffice

 

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Edit the code of your web pages with Firebug

Firebug is a surprisingly powerful add-on for the Firefox web browser. Aimed at web developers, Firebug lets you examine and edit the code of your web pages in your browser window. It also allows you to examine

Firebug lets you view HTML, CSS, and JavaScript components of your web page, so if something isn’t displaying properly — an element is in the wrong place, text doesn’t appear the way you expect, or a piece of JavaScript doesn’t do what it’s supposed to — it’s much easier to work out what’s gone wrong and fix it.

The add-on comes into its own with CSS in particular. Firebug lets you see at a glance which rules of CSS apply to a particular element. Testing different rules no longer involves laboriously changing code in an editor, uploading it to your web space and refreshing the page every time you want to try something out. You can input the new code in Firebug and immediately see how it will affect the page you’re working on.

Despite being an add-on itself, Firebug is meaty enough to support its own add-ons, expanding its functionality — providing information specific to a package such as Drupal, for example, or adding reference materials.

As well as being a development tool, Firebug can also enhance your understanding of web programming by allowing you to view the code of any exiting website in detail. Unlike the “View Source” command, which only gives you a limited glimpse into the underlying workings of a web page, Firebug supplies considerable detail about each element so you can quickly gain an understanding of how a particular look or function was achieved.

read full review | download Firebug

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Design your CD/DVD labels with CyberLink LabelPrint

Soft32 has a number of great applications for creating backup copies of the DVD’s you legally own. After you’ve made your copy, you need to label it in some way so that its identifiable. This is one of the reasons why I like Cyberlink LabelPrint. It’s a fun and easy to use optical disc labeling program for Windows.

CyberLink LabelPrint can create stunning CD and DVD labels in four quick steps. All you really need to do is select your template type, disc information, text layout, background image, and print destination. LabelPrint supports layout and printing on a broad range of templates for your CD/DVD labels.

It gets even better when you use Labelflash and LightScribe. Labelflash software and LightScribe software allow you to “etch” image designs and text onto the surface of your Labelflash and LightScribe discs. LabelPrint recognizes if a burner and disc support these technologies, and provides the option to burn to that media.

If you’re a music nut, you can work with MP3 audio files to create numbered track lists quickly by simply selecting the files you have added to your disc. The information is automatically transferred between layout templates, enabling the creation of custom CD/DVD labels, jewel-case covers and inlays all at the same time.

CyberLink LabelPrint also supports a broad range of commercial templates from leading label makers for your disc covers. A built-in library of high-resolution images provides you with choices of 16 popular themes, including Travel, Happy Birthday, and now Soccer. You can also import your own images and then edit them to fit your label and disc cover designs.

read full review | download Cyberlink LabePrint

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