Raspberry Pi gets its own Appstore

The tiny Raspberry Pi computer is the latest device to get its own app store. The Pi Store opened for custom on 17th December contains a range of apps from games to developers’ tools. Currently there are twenty five apps available to download in the Pi Store, but this number is expected to grow significantly in the coming months.

The Pi Store is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Indie City – operators of an online marketplace for independent game developers – and Velocix. The foundation launched the store with the aim to enable “young people to share their creations with a wider audience, and maybe to make a little pocket money”. Currently all apps are free to download except Storm in a Teacup. Storm in a Teacup features 50 levels of physics based puzzles and is priced at £1.99.

The range of apps on the Pi Store is already diverse. There are five games on offer including Freeciv which is an open source empire-building strategy game. OpenTTD, the popular open source transport simulation game can also be found in the store. Despotify is a Spotify client for the Raspberry Pi and is free to download, however users need a Spotify Premium account to use the app. LibreOffice brings an extensive suite of office applications to the Raspberry Pi and is compatible with Microsoft Office files. There are also several apps intended to assist Raspberry Pi developers. The Pi Store is also intended to be the hope of “Pi-related” media including the MagPi e-magazine and tutorials produced from the community.

The Raspberry Pi has widely been regarded as a success since its launch earlier in the year. Amateur and professional developers alike have written and ported a wide range of applications to run on the system but until now there has been no obvious place to find or distribute these applications. The Pi Store changes this and will greatly simplify the experience for developers and users.

A blog post on the Raspberry Pi foundation website encourages the community of Raspberry Pi users to embrace the store. The community has been asked to submit their own projects to populate the store and to review and rate the apps already on offer. The store features a clever recommendation engine which will learn about you and your preferences as you rate, review and download apps. These recommendations will improve as you interact more and more with the store.

The Pi store itself is easily browsed and well constructed. Apps can be found through their category or through their tags. There is also useful search and sort functions in the store. All apps on the store have a content rating so users know whether the content is appropriate for the recipient. Given that the Raspberry Pi is based upon an open source platform all apps also detail their associated licences so users are aware if they can modify or redistribute the app.

To download apps from the store, Raspberry Pi users must first download the Raspberry Pi Store application. Users can download the application from Raspberry Pi’s official download page.

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Can You See The Big Picture?

If you’re familiar with Steam then you’ll know it’s a gaming platform that allows users to share and play games from small developers to giants as well as a community area and the option to play multi-player with users around the globe. It’s all about giving you access to the games you love and the people you want to play against. Well now it’s even easier to access with the introduction of Steam’s Big Picture.

Big Picture has been available in beta for some time, but Valve has only just released the full version, and thus far it’s looking good!

If you’re a fan of Steam then this can only be good news, a new way to play your favourite games, from the comfort of your living room. What’s more it’s a method of PC/TV gaming that feels intuitive and natural, unlike trying to view most PC platforms on a big screen. It includes all the functionality you have on your PC or MAC, just designed to look, feel and work in a more TV screen friendly way.

All you have to do is link your computer up to your TV or other large screen and select the ‘Big Picture’ button in the top right corner. Doing so will not only expand your window, but also offer a whole range of new functionality for better playing, browsing and more comfortable viewing on a large screen. Great news if you like to chill on the sofa while gaming!

Even better the new Daisywheel text input is optimised for use with a game pad – making it easier than ever before to type without a keyboard. Valve is describing Big Picture’s browser as the world’s first, first person browser. It is inspired by first person shooter games and rather than moving the cursor, the screen pans and the cursor remains stationary. The ideal browser a) for use with a game pad and b) for people who are used to using Steam on a regular basis who are likely to be prolific gamers.

So now it’s possible for you to get the same feel when using Steam on even the biggest of screens, without having to use the clunky mouse and keyboard set up on your knee.

That being said if you love the Big Picture usability but prefer to use your PC or laptop then you can, and equally it’ll work with your keyboard and mouse just as well as it will with a game pad. Big Picture is all about giving gamers options, Steam users will now find it so easy to access their favourite games in an easy to use manner. Whether they’re behind their computer or using the TV. It essentially makes your TV feel like a console, whilst still offering your favourite games that you may have originally played on your PC. An amazing feat, and something that hasn’t really been done before.
It’s exciting stuff, and we’re looking forward to find out what Valve will do with Steam next. Can you see the Big Picture?

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Far Cry 3 has been released

Following the European release from November 30, Ubisoft is ready to deliver on the North American market the third installment in the Far Cry franchise. Far Cry 3 is the sequel to the 2008 Far Cry 2 and is a comeback to the tropical island environment. Based on the same open world concept found in the other titles of the franchise, Far Cry 3 brings powerful characters and a thriller story, important elements that have been mistreated in the former two titles of the series.

Far Cry 3 is not a common open world first-person shooter. The player will face some role-playing elements including experience points, skill trees, and a crafting system. Beside these complex elements of gameplay, the player will have the ability to take cover behind objects and also shoot from the cover position. In case you want to choose the stealth way, your character can now perform takedowns from above, below or behind. You can also track down the enemies by tagging them with your camera.

Far Cry 3 has been received by the critics with positive reviews, praising the detailed environment which is now ten times bigger than the one present in Far Cry 2, and powerful characters that bring an in-depth story to the gameplay.

An interesting fact is that Michael Lambert, well-known for his Minecraft mods, along with artist Axel Janssen and Yohann Delcourt has been named by Ubisoft to create a custom map featuring textures that should recreate the  Far Cry 3 setting and characters in the popular indie game Minecraft. The mod can be downloaded from the official Far Cry 3 website.

The best lines to describe this game cited from the publisher description: “Play drinking games and poker, compete in car races and shooting challenges. Take on these challenges to earn money and immerse yourself in the island’s lifestyle… when you’re not fighting for your life.”

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Minecraft for Raspberry Pi

The little tiny Raspberry Pi will get its first exclusive game. Now, if you don’t know anything about Raspberry Pi, read this article about it. But if you don’t have the time for it, in short you should know that Raspberry Pi is that tiny mini PC that costs $25 and is the size of a USB flash drive.

The first game to run officially on it will a port of the popular Minecraft (more exactly Minecraft: Pocket Edition) the indie sandbox survival game developed by Mojang. Also known as Minecraft: Pi Edition, the game was officially announced at Minecon in Paris. The interesting thing about this version of Minecraft is that it will feature support for several programming languages that will allow any user not only to play it, but also to modify it while playing. You can literally break the code and manipulate anything in the game.

Mojang’s Owen Hill explains. “You could organize the cheapest LAN party of all time, or use the Pi to learn the fundamentals of programming on a miniscule budget. It’s like hacking your way into Minecraft and modifying the game world with code, a bit like being [game developers] Notch, Jeb, or Nathan, but arguably more fun and less stressful”.

The game will be available for free soon at the official Raspberry Pi website.

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Internet Explorer 10 Release Preview available for Windows 7

A week ago Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 users. While still not in its final version, the browser is served as a Release Preview in 32 bit and 64 bit form.

Initially Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 only for Windows 8 as part of it. Being directly integrated into the system, many users have questioned Microsoft’s decision not to make the 10th version of the browser also available for Windows 7 a year ago. As a consequence to this, it was imminent the Windows 7 version to be available in this period of the year.

At a first look, the Release Preview of Internet Explorer 10 is nearly identical to the version of the browser integrated into the Windows 8. The only core difference is that Adobe Flash is not integrated into the Windows 7 / Windows Server 2012 version like it is in the Windows 8 version. The reason of having a built-in version of Adobe Flash into Windows 8 version of IE 10 is that the browser does not support browser plugins.

In case you want to try out the browser in Windows 7, you should know that the installation of Internet Explorer 10 Preview will replace the current version of the browser on the system. A restart will be required to complete the installation. If you are not satisfied with its functionality, you can uninstall it from the Updates panel of your operating system.

download Internet Explorer 10 Release Preview

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APP is the world’s first motion picture to feature your mobile as a second screen

2CFILM, a newly founded film company, recently launched its first project. Named APP, the project is actually a motion picture that involves the usage of your mobile as an additional screenYour device will be fully synchronized with the movie in order to receive extra content while watching the movie in your beloved cinema.

APP will be the first film in a series of similar titles produced by 2CFILM to feature this technology. Good news is that this technology will be brought by an application based on  SyncNow® digital watermarking developed by Service2Media and Civolution for iPhone and Android devices.

The movie is about obviously an app that becomes autonomous and dangerous. Nothing new on the narrative side, but the good thing is that the audience will be able to follow a parallel storyline via the app on their mobile phone while still watching the movie. Overall you will get a new dimension of the movie right in your pocket. APP is due for release in the Netherlands on 24 February 2013, and will be distributed by Just Film Distribution.

The partnership between 2CFILM, Service2Media and Civolution  will not end here. They will bring this technology not only in cinemas, but also on DVD’s, television and online TV channels. As Edvard van ‘t Wout, Founder, 2CFILM, states:

App is our first step on to the international stage with our new approach to film, creating commercially-successful films that fit with how today’s audiences consume content and which resonate with the modern world.”

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Steven Sinofsky has left the building

The post-PC tide makes collateral victims and Steven Sinofsky is one of them. Almost three weeks after the launch of Windows 8 and RT on October 26, the man responsible for these products and president of Windows and Windows Live division, is gone. Preceded by a short announcement by Microsoft, his departure becomes even weirder.

We should take in consideration that Sinofsky is the architect behind Windows 7, a product that was meant to revive the Microsoft platform, after the unsuccessful launch of Vista. Not to mention his direct involvement in the developing process of Windows 8. Against all these facts, “he left the building” instantly without any transition period. It looks like he was fired during a crucial launch. The only official explanation about Sinofsky’s departure comes from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who explains that this move is necessary in order to: “continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycle for our offerings.”

Sinofsky’s departure comes short after the exit of iOS chief Scott Forstall from Apple, but unlike Sinofsky, Forstall departed during a transitional period.

As a result, Microsoft’s stock is down 3.2 percent, but this drop is modest considering that many imagined Sinofsky to be the CEO heir when Ballmer quits his job. An immediate side effect is that the management will change which will affect the cycle of development for the next Windows operating system.

Unfortunately there is only speculation about the reason of his departure, but the truth is out there, and it may surface in the end because Microsoft is a leaky environment.

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Explore the Space with SolarMax

The Solar Max is a fantastic way to get informed on space and the extraordinary galaxy that surrounds us. This nifty and stylish piece of software displays almost real-time data taken directly from the NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory – all downloaded with speed to the Android device.

Each of these satellites follows the Sun’s activity continuously, while Solar Max provides users with high resolution images around the clock. The images come from a total of 19 solar image sensors across three spacecraft. The latest version of this extraordinary software comes with a load of brand new features, including an awesome new Pinch and Zoom system for users to get extra close to the sun, as well as the ability to actually download saved images of the sun, and watch the sun in all of its glory.

As said before, the images displayed are of high resolution, so download time will vary depending on the power of the particular service provider – but all image data is well worth the wait.

The Solar Max is an educational and stylish software to play with; a delight for anyone with a passion for technology, and an interest in the workings of our solar system.

download SolarMax

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