A Short Thought – UltraViolet Really Sucks

I’m not going to belabor this at all – but UltraViolet, Sony’s movies in a cloud thing..? Yeah, so not a fan…

I am a computing fan. I am a Windows OS expert. I’ve been a part of nearly every Windows and Office Technical Beta Team (the ones picked by MS to privately test for them), ever. I’m currently using a Mac, and while OS X is now my default OS of choice, I still use Parallels for Windows to run Office 2010, because, well, it is a native Windows app, and the integration between the apps is so much better on Windows than on the Mac.

Please don’t say the words Outlook 2011 for Mac. It’s the biggest train wreck to come out of Redmond since Windows ME and Windows Vista. Its so bad, I couldn’t even finish a review of it. It was too negative.

Why preamble all of this? Simple. As a Mac, I’ve embraced their ecosystem and have an iPad 1 and an iPhone 4S as well as a 15″ Early 2011 MBP. iTunes is my music manager of choice, obviously and really, has been for quite some time. Its just provides the best well rounded experience on the desktop and on the go, even though its bloated as all get out, and could probably do with a serious code rewrite; but I digress…

Because I’m a Mac and use iTunes, when I purchase DVD’s or Blu-Ray discs at point of sale, I try to buy titles that include an iTunes digital copy. It saves me from having to buy the movie twice (the physical copy for the set top box and a digital copy for my iPad, Mac and Apple TV). This is a problem with certain films, as I’ve got a huge iTunes audio and video library dating back to before 2004.

I could pontificate a ton more; but let’s cut to the chase – UltraViolet exists because Sony didn’t like the deal that Apple was willing to cut them. They wanted a better deal, Apple wasn’t willing to cut into their margins and neither was Sony. So, Sony created a completely different, competing download system that uses Flixter (available in Google Play as well as the iOS App Store) as a content player on both Android and iOS devices.

The problem comes when you’ve got an already existing library in iTunes. Without jumping through some serious hoops, you won’t get the content on your iPad, iPod, iPhone or even in iTunes for that matter. Flixter wil eventually give in and get you an iTunes compatible copy; but it sucks that you have to go through the grief.

So, because Sony and Apple can’t work and play well together, I’ve got to either limp my way through managing 2 different content libraries, or I’ve got to beg Flixter and Sony to give me an iTunes compatible copy…and there’s no guarantee they will.

The only thing this is really going to do is push me to rip video from DVD’s I own, avoid those that don’t offer an iTunes compatible digital copy, or just forego buying a physical copy all together and just stick with the copy that I can get to play on my Apple TV, my Mac or my iPad.

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An Oldie, But Still Going Strong, Tibia

First released in 1997, Tibia is one of the most long-running Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). With more than a decade to draw in new players the userbase is huge, with active player numbers in the six figures. Unfortunately the global appeal of the game can make interactions difficult, as many players do not speak the same languages.

One of the big pluses of this game is the extremely low system requirements – compared to other MMORPGs. Basically any system can handle it. In addition to that, the download is nice and small, making it getting started a breeze. This is however the result to some quite simple graphics that may not be enough for some players that are used to big budget effects.

Players will see a nicely simple user interface, with inventories and other data confined to the side of the screen. Both PvP and non PvP servers are available, and ten years of updates means that there is a lot to play through and experience.

The free version will leave your character somewhat limited, with your character restricted to only four vocations and a limited list of features, unless you pay extra.

Tibia wouldn’t still be running if it wasn’t an enjoyable game. If you can get past the graphics then you will find a huge community and a lot of content. The free version is well worth your time and you might find yourself happily paying for extra features.

download Tibia

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Diablo III – the hottest game of 2012 launched

We’ve been patiently waiting for Diablo III for as long as we can remember.  We were playing the beta and we watched online videos just to make time pass faster until we get to experience Diablo III in all it’s glory but now – we can play it! Well, sort of…

There are login issues and some people can’t login but I’m sure we’ll be able to play the game soon – all of us.

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.

Diablo III is available for Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7 and Macintosh and you can buy it directly from Blizzard from the official website. If you’ve purchased a digital copy, you can begin downloading your client right now.

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View DVD’s on your computer with this must have Windows-based DVD player

Back in the day, I remember that playing DVD’s on your Windows based PC wasn’t always cut and dry. While Windows media player could actually display the content, it didn’t by default, as it didn’t have the appropriate video codecs installed for it by default.  In order to do that on Windows XP and any version of Vista other than Vista Ultimate, you needed a third party DVD player installed.  That’s when I found and fell in love with WinDVD Pro. It’s one of the best soft DVD players available for your Windows PC.


WinDVD Pro is advanced 2D, 3D, AVCHD and Blu-ray player software. The newest version supports not only 3D playback technology, but 2D to 3D conversion, and HD upscaling. If you’re into the 3D experience, its conversion capabilities allow you to convert and enjoy your movies in full 3D definition.

2D to 3D conversion is supported for DVD-Video and standard and high-definition video files. WinDVD Pro provides you not only with support for Blu-ray 3D, NVIDIA 3D Vision Shutter Glasses and XpanD Polarized Glasses, it also includes anaglyph 3D glasses the box version of the software.


You can use WinDVD Pro to quickly search online video sites and find your favourite movies at the best prices with the new Corel FlixFinder. With it, you can browse videos by category, compare prices, and bookmark and select your favorites, all from its convenient search screen.

read full review | download WinDVD Pro 11

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Watch, share and host videos and files online in streaming with Cacaoweb

Cacaoweb is a free open-source plugin enabling users to upload, download, share and watch host videos and files online, bypassing any time restrictions for unpaid viewing. It makes use of data streaming so viewing can commence before the download is completed.

Downloading the software is straightforward, and can be done either before or after the content has been searched for and identified. Cacaoweb has its own content search engine and selecting a file or files to play will check for the software and prompt to download the app if it is not already present. It can be used in conjunction with other software components, for example, catalogues of hosted movies, which then install cacaoweb.exe and play the selected video.

Cacaoweb is entirely free to use and seems to perform well, although videos can freeze for a short time. The website is arranged clearly and elegantly.

The software runs on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It can be used to integrate large files, music or video to other websites; all the APIs and instructions are freely provided. You can control cacaoweb instances through HTTP calls. File uploading is to the cacaoweb P2P network. There are features around maintaining file metadata, for example, the title, year of release, season, episode, language and price information can all be maintained, however, once uploaded a file cannot be removed. There is a support forum, wiki and a GitHub for the control of its software revisions.

Download Cacaoweb for Windows | Download Cacaoweb for Mac

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Stack up the blocks with this fun, retro game – Tetris

I remember getting an original 8-bit Nintendo for Christmas back in 1992. One of the games that I enjoyed the most was Tetris. It was challenging, fun, entertaining, and all the rage back in the day. This is one of the reasons why I really like Tetris Zone. It’s a fun, multi-platform game for your PC.

Tetris Zone offers four modes of play, from the simple, yet challenging 15-level Marathon mode to an instant hard-drop variation, and more. The game’s stunning 3D graphics make the Tetris experience exciting as you experience new levels of play.

Tetris has four game variations to keep you entertained for hours. It also includes a full instant replay mode, so you can relive your best game, including your all-time hi-score and your daily best. You can automatically upload your scores to a world-wide Leader Board and compare your ranking against players from the around the world. Tetris is an authentic retro-Tetris game designed and optimized specifically for Windows and OS X.

Tetris Zone is a decent game and it’s a lot of fun. The graphics are good, and the sound is decent. I had a lot of fun with this, and it brought back a lot of fun memories. If you’re looking for Tetris, this is a great implementation; and is a lot of fun.

Download Tetris

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Is Convergence the Way to Go?

Both Apple and Microsoft are bringing their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together. Is this a good idea, or a recipe for disaster?

Current rumor has Apple releasing Mountain Lion next month.  Windows is due to hit the streets outside of Redmond, likely in October 2012.  While considered polar opposites, these two new versions of OS X and Windows have one key ingredient in common – they are both trying to bring their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together.

Microsoft Windows 8
You can see Soft32’s Windows 8 deep dive, here.  In Windows 8, Microsoft is designing an operating system that can be used on either a desktop or laptop as well as a tablet.  Windows 8’s new user interface, Metro, is heavily touch based. It has the user physically interacting with the hardware and the computing objects on it via touch.  If the hardware being used doesn’t have a touch layer, then the user can use both keyboard and mouse to simulate touch.

As I pointed out in my review (URL), this doesn’t always lend itself to the best computing experience. Using the mouse to simulate a touch and swipe to scroll through a screen isn’t as intuitive as it sounds, and is really rather clumsy. I think I’ve established, with Windows 8, that having one OS for either hardware types or categories doesn’t create a good user experience. However, in my opinion, this is clearly in response to only Google’s Android (to an extent), but to Apple’s Lion and Mountain Lion releases of OS X.  Microsoft sees the movement towards a unified computing experience and has taken a unified approach in developing a single operating system to cover all computing hardware types.

Last time, we looked at Microsoft and Windows 8. Let’s take a quick look at how Apple has decided to converge iOS and OS X.  Mountain Lion continues Apple’s desire to blur the lines between the two…

Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
Apple’s approach is much different.  Instead of putting OS X on your iPhone or iPad or iOS on your Mac, Apple is bringing specific iOS features to the desktop.  These mobile device features are adapted to the desktop or laptop for, what Apple feels is a better experience on the non (or not as) mobile hardware.

The difference here is approach and design.  Apple is taking specific features from iOS – Messages, Notifications, Reminders, iCloud Integration, etc., those that make sense to have on the desktop and are finding a way to implement those. The features are similar, but not identical, given the differences in the hardware.  Their addition is subtle, even elegant in some cases, as in the implementation of Notifications.  The point is though, that while both platforms have similar features, while they may share a similar look and/or feel, they are implemented and presented differently, taking advantage of the benefits of each platform.

continue reading

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Create, share, and play Portal 2 puzzles with the new update titled “Perpetual Testing Initiative”

Valve, creators of the game franchises such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike, just launched a free Portal 2 DLC titled “Perpetual Testing Initiative” for the PC and Mac.

The “Perpetual Testing Initiative” allows players to easily create, share, and play Portal 2 puzzles. The Initiative comes with a simplified puzzle maker that allows that creation of mind-bending puzzles without ever leaving the game.

The puzzle maker can directly publish maps to the  Steam Workshop where users can browse, vote on, and select to play them. Selected puzzles will automatically be downloaded and installed inside Portal 2.

Portal 2 holds a Metacritic score of 95% and is a hilariously mind-bending adventure that challenges you to use wits over weaponry in a funhouse of diabolical science. Using a highly experimental portal device, you’ll once again face off against a lethally inventive, power-mad A.I. named GLaDOS. And this time you won’t be alone…

Fallow this link to buy Portal 2

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