Bioshock Infinite – an amazing shooter with neat role-playing touches

Bioshock_Infinite_LogoBioshock Infinite is the third installment in the award-winning Bioshock series, and whilst there is no continuing storyline from its previous incarnations, fans of the brand will notice that the stunning visuals and intuitive gameplay remain very much at the heart of the game.

This time round we control Booker DeWitt, a former Government agent who – to pay off an unknown debt – is sent to the floating city of Columbia to rescue a captive called Elizabeth.

Set in 1912, the game features at its core a civil war between the ‘founders’ of Columbia and the ‘Vox Populi’, a rebel gang looking to seize control of the city. Whilst Columbia is gloriously easy on the eye, we quickly learn its inhabitants have an appetite for destruction. The protagonists are drawn into this battle as Elizabeth is highly sought by both of the rival factions, who wish to use her unique psychological powers for their own ends.

original

Bioshock Infinite is, in essence, a first person shooter, but with some neat role-playing touches that will please ardent RPG fans too. Following a well-trodden path, the game combines both linear plot points and the ability to free roam, allowing you to really immerse yourself in the atmosphere and politics of Columbia.

Whilst Booker has a number of destructive melee weapons and firearms at his disposal, he can also utilise vigors that offer a number of additional skills, including telekinesis, the manipulation of electricity and animal control to discombobulate opponents, and these – in grand RPG tradition – can be fully upgraded.

The player can also make the most of Elizabeth’s strengths in battle sequences, although she does remain CPU controlled throughout the game. The character of Elizabeth is built with a really intuitive AI model, which ensures she is of benefit rather than a hindrance – something you often find in ‘buddy’ shooters.

Using her spiritual abilities in combination with Booker’s skill in combat can lead to a number of devastating – and very satisfying – attacks. She’ll even chuck a few power ups your way when she’s not directly involved in the action herself.
The only blot on Bioshock Infinite’s copy book is the gun battle aspect, which feels clunky and a little dated when compared to many other recent point and shoot titles. But this is more than made up for in the sheer number of aforementioned ingenious battleground tactics that can be deployed.

If you’ve never played Bioshock before then you are in for a treat, and seasoned campaigners will be happy with the series’ continued commitment to sublime graphics, dense atmospherics and multi-layered battlegrounds.

Whether you are a tactically-minded player or an ‘all guns blazing’ merchant, the depth of Columbia and the responsiveness of your enemies gives the game a replay value so often lacking in first person shooters, whilst still being fun and easy to ‘pick up and play.’

The intricacies of the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth, as well as the dystopian environment they find themselves in, result in an immersive storyline packed with depth and promise. You really will want to see this one through to the end.

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Dell Latitude 10-ST2 Windows 8 Pro Tablet – Review

Billed as a full Windows 8 Pro tablet and Microsoft Surface Pro competitor, is the Dell Latitude 10-ST2 the device for you?

Introduction

Tablet computing is IT right now. Apple has their iPad and iPad mini. Samsung has the Android powered Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note; and Microsoft has Surface RT and Surface Pro. Dell also has a Windows 8 Pro tablet – The Dell Latitude 10-ST2. How does it measure up to the expected tablet experience? Is it a good alternative to either the 64GB or 128GB Microsoft Surface Pro tablet? Let’s take a look and find out?

Dell Latitude 10-ST2

Device and Hardware

The Dell Latitude 10-ST2 tablet is all black and covered on 5 sides with a slightly rubberized backing. The front is Gorilla Glass. It has a 10.2 inch diagonal screen pushing a 1366×768 resolution that defaults to landscape orientation. Its basic hardware specs can be found in the table below. After all is said and done, the device had a Windows Experience Index value of 3.3, attributed to its gaming and 3D business graphics.

Category Component
Processor 1.8GHz Intel Atom z2760
Memory 2GB, 800MHz DDR2
Hard drive 64GB SSD
Graphics Intel GMA
Dimensions (WD) 10.8×6.9 inches
Height 0.4 inch
Screen size (diagonal) 10.2 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 1.6 pounds / 2.1 pounds
Video Micro-HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone combo jack
Data 1 USB 2.0, SD card reader, 1 Micro-USB charging port
Networking 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

While the Atom processor has a high enough speed at 1.8GHz, it doesn’t have a lot of horse power. In fact, it’s pretty anemic. The system is optimized for a few specific apps – Microsoft Office being one of them – but don’t expect it to power through anything else though. The weak processor performance even seems to affect network traffic, disk I/O and display performance as well, though obviously system interaction between dedicated subcomponents will also factor in.

It was especially noticeable when trying to download content from Microsoft TechNet. I was a bit disappointed with it all.

Continue reading…

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Collect, organize, and retain lecture and study material quickly and easily with Knowledge NoteBook

Getting good grades is harder today than it was when I was a kid.  I didn’t have to go to kindergarten.  Now, not only do kids have to go to kindergarten, they must learn to read, and read well, before they get to first grade.  I didn’t learn to read until the first grade. In today’s faster paced classrooms, I’m glad there are tools like Knowledge Notebook. It’s a multiplatform study tool.

Knowledge Notebook is targeted for use by older students that need to get organized quickly.  With it, students can organize their lecture or class notes.  The note-taking tool provides three fields for taking a note: subject, tag (key concept) and notes. So, you can easily link your notes to subject matter, and the tag allows you to highlight important note content.  The result is a structured, clean note foundation for later review.

Each note is not an isolated island. The Notes Association feature allows you to associate one note with another for conceptual proximity or relationship. For example, a note about auto engine ignition is related to another note about auto engine induction, and both of them are related to a note about auto engine; associations which this feature allows you to draw, organizing information while helping you to better understand the relationships.

In order to prep for exams, many students review and re-review their lecture notes.  Knowledge Notebook allows you to condense all of your notes into a single PDF that can easily be printed or shared with friends and classmates.

In addition to consolidating all of your notes, Knowledge Notebook’s Learning Assessment Engine informs you if you’ve learned what is expected from your lecture or class notes.  All you have to do is click two buttons and the engine evaluates what you’ve retained and displays the results instantly.

In summary, a word processor such as Word is good for creating a document for presentation, but Knowledge Notebook helps you to simplify learning with recording, organizing, understanding, and remembering knowledge and information! And equally important, you instantly know if you’ve learned something (for qualitative subjects).

Word processors and note taking apps are ok for recording information, but when it comes to organizing and comprehending material, that’s a different matter. Knowledge Notebook helps you collect, organize, and retain lecture and study material quickly and easily.  A word of caution, however, the app requires Java and depending on the security settings on your PC, the app may require additional steps to effectively use on the platform of your choice.

Download Knowledge NoteBook for Windows | Download Knowledge NoteBook for Mac

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OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3

There’s a lot of iOS based improvement going into Apple’s newest Operating System, OS X 10.8, code named, Mountain Lion. Let’s take a look at how it and iOS are converging.

There’s been a lot going on in Cupertino since February of this year. Apple has been hard at work pulling together the latest version of its new desktop operating system, OS X 10.8, code named Mountain Lion. Apple is, at least in some sense, converging their two most successful platforms – iOS, which it uses to power all of its mobile devices; and OS X, which powers all of its desktops and laptops. With the iPad parked squarely between the two platforms (but powered by iOS), Apple is trying to build synergy between the two platforms so that users can easily use both without a experiencing any jarring transitions.

The effort is commendable. There are a great many Apple customers who own not only an iPod Touch or iPhone, but an iPad as well as a desktop/laptop Mac. Bringing the two together was something that Steve wanted to do. Let’s take a look at where the two converge and the value they provide, if any.

Messages Beta
Byte covered Messages Beta, and the features it brings to the desktop, in an extensive deep dive. Messages Beta is available for download on Mac’s running Lion, and will be usable until the new OS is officially available for purchase in the App Store. At that point, Messages will stop functioning in Lion, and those users who wish to keep using it will need to upgrade to Mountain Lion.

Notifications
Applications like Growl have been providing system notifications in OS X for quite some time. Apple has finally brought the same kind of functionality as you see in Growl, to Mountain Lion by integrating system wide notification into the operating system. The actual implementation takes its queues directly from iOS. They share a similar tray background, look and feel.

When system or app events occur on your Mac, those notifications will appear in the upper right corner of your screen, in a self-hiding event tray that slides out on the right side, as opposed to coming down from the center of the screen as it does on your iPad or iPhone. System event notifications disappear after a few moments have passed. Other notification types need to be dismissed by the user.

How, if at all, this will work or conflict with notification apps like Growl is yet to be known or understood. Growl is a long standing, value added application that many have used for YEARS simply because OS X didn’t support this type of functionality. It’s quite possible that Growl may be out of a job…

Reminders
Combining Reminders with Siri on the iPhone 4S is pretty awesome. All you have to do to set one on your iPhone is to ask Siri to, “remind [you] to do ‘X’ [at] ‘Y’, ” with X being the thing you want the reminder to remind you to do, and Y being when you want the reminder to go off. In Mountain Lion, Apple brings the Reminders app to the desktop, but without Siri. You get everything you’ve got on the iPhone (again, minus Siri) as well as a couple other cool additions.

On the desktop, Reminders allows you to create a task or to-do list, set the date and time you want the reminders to go off and the ability to push them to all of your iDevices. Having this on your Mac also means you get the ability to search through your reminders and view them on your calendar.

The one feature that Reminders doesn’t do on your Mac is “remind [you] to do ‘X’ when you get to ‘Z’,” with X again being the thing you want to do, and Z being the location where you want to do it. For example, again on your iPhone, “Siri, remind me to call home when I leave the office.” Location services aren’t built into Mountain Lion, so reminders on the desktop aren’t location aware.

iCloud Integration
Mountain Lion is the first edition of OS X that includes built in iCloud integration from its initial release. Yes, Lion has it; but it’s an update introduced add-on. With Mountain Lion, Apple gives you access to cloud-based sync services for Notes, Reminders and Messages/iMessage between your Mac and your iDevice.

Documents and changes to those documents stored there will also sync back and forth between your Mac and iDevice. An additional feature coming for documents in the cloud is Document Library. Aside from giving you access to the latest revision of any document created with an iCloud supported app, Document Library also gives you the ability to create folders by dragging one document on top of another, as you do with shortcuts on an iDevice home page, today. Document Library will also support file sharing, making it easy for you to share stuff with those you know via Mail, Messages and AirDrop.

Continue reading…

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Can’t Beat the CS6 Beta: Adobe Photoshop Leads the Way

Adobe has done it again. Always at the cutting edge of innovation, they don’t disappoint with this latest advance in digital image editing software. From the reworked interface to the 65 new features, an incredible amount of thought has gone into the Adobe Photoshop CS6. And for the first time, Adobe has released a public beta of the software, meaning everyone can try it out until the official launch later this year.

What strikes you first is the refined, darker-grey UI, looking smart and modern, and making the colours in your photos really stand out. The handling of panels and tools is also extremely logical, with common features more accessible in the foreground and many of the controls moveable straight onto the canvas. The updated Mini Bridge panel now sits horizontally across the bottom of the screen, which, coupled with the darker interface, makes Photoshop not dissimilar to Adobe Lightroom, though both features can be customised to your preferences.

One thing Adobe boasts of with the CS6 is the increased speed of the software, which they hope will have a transformational effect on professional workflows. It looks pretty likely. Powered by the new Mercury Graphics Engine, delivering editing results virtually in real-time via common tools such as Liquify and Transform, and with the additional search tool in the layers panel, the CS6 will save users hours of work. The capacity of the CS6 to save files in the background also means no more sitting waiting for Photoshop to save extra-large files.

Noteworthy new features include additions to the Content Aware tools. Content-Aware Patch allows the user to select an area from an image and then let the computer fill in another image with the chosen section. Content-Aware Move enables users to select an object in a picture and move it to a new position, like magic!

A long-awaited highlight comes in the form of the built-in Lorem Ipsum dummy text generator, which allows the user to add dotted or dashed lines to shapes easily. New type styles provide consistent formatting and let designers apply type treatments speedily to their designs.

One of the major differences with the CS6 is that it includes some video editing tools. The tools are basic, and simple to apply – it’s just a case of pressing the Create Video Timeline button on the new Timeline tab, and off you go. Critics might argue that mobile phone apps can now provide the same tools without the need for shifting images from device to device, but in reality many people don’t use their mobile apps, or want to use a basic form of Adobe Premiere without having to sign up as a Permiere Pro user.

The Photoshop CS6 beta includes all of the features of Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended, and is simple to download. As is common with betas, there are bugs, but it’s worth ignoring these to sample the enhanced design tools, incredible performance and fantastic new features of this industry-beating beta.

Download Photoshop CS6 Beta for Windows | Download Photoshop CS6 Beta for Mac

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Ashampoo Photo Commander – all-in-one app for editing, organizing, sharing, and presenting photos

We all edit our photos in one way or the other. Either simply to remove the “red eyes” from our photos, either to resize, crop or rotate them. Ashampoo Photo Commander is a comprehensive photo tool that covers all that you need to edit, optimize or quick fix your photos, but it also offers all the features to organize, share and even present your digital photos.

The installation is simple and straightforward. However, I personally chose the custom method to avoid installing their toolbar. When you open Ashampoo Photo Commander, you’ll can simply locate your photo collection in order to edit and to use your favorite shots to create slideshows, albums, collages, cards, calendars and more. Ashampoo Photo Commander also includes a handful of filters and special effects.

One thing that I find really useful is the batch processing tools which allow you to convert, edit or add filters to a group of selected photos. Also, comparative with version 8, the latest version introduces an improved wizard to make the process much simpler and the quick-fix mode has been improved, adding an automatic red-eye removal tool and better eraser tool. When you’re playing with the effects, you can see now “before” and “after” shots of the photo. Also, the video playback has been improved, and video files can now be easily rotated during playback.

Another interesting feature is the Capture Mode. You can capture windows or just parts of the screen and you can take multiple captures at a time. The captured images can be modified later in the built-in image editor. Before capturing the screen, you can set some options including the color of the applied shadows or the shape of the captured images. Also, you can burn your images directly to a CD or DVD as an animated slide show or upload them to your homepage as an interactive photo album.

Download the latest version of Ashampoo Photo Commander

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WWDC 2011 Apple launches Mac OS X Lion iOS5 and iCloud

World Wide Developers Conference San Francisco 2011 has three Software Revolutions prepared for the public: Mac OS X Lion 10.7, iOS 5 for iPhone/iPad and iCloud to keep them all together.

“Mac OS X has over 250 new features and 3000 api’s for developers.”

At WWDC 2011 Mac OS X Lion was presented with 10 key new features:
1 – Multi-Touch Gestures
Improved gestures and BYE BYE scroll bars

2 – Full Screen Apps
New top-right button for it. You can see all applications in full screen.

3 – Mission Control
Bird-eye-view for everything you have running.

Downside to all these features means you have to learn some gestures, learn how to use and get used to mission control, and get used to new full-screen apps.

4 – Built into Lion Mac App Store
Because this was a very “hard” thing to do.

5 – Launch Pad
A gesture for all your applications, it also looks very alike iOS from iPhone/iPad.

6 – Resume
Remembers the application setting, selected texts if it gets closed intentionally or by accident.

7 – Auto Save
Lion can automatically save any document while you are working.

8 – Versions
Automatic versions of your document. A time-machine of all your document versions.

9 – Airdrop
Aa sharing documents and files from a mac to another. Peer-2-Peer Wifi based sharing tool. This is sharing folder improved in visual way.

10 – Mail
Improved version of Mail with some features and user interface from iOS. It also has bubble-like history for the emails which is cute.
I must admit I love the search feature, you can finally easily search and find fast something on your email.

Check them out:

 

Mac OS X Lion will be priced only for $29.99 available in July only through Apple App Store.

( If you take out the flashy box, and the manuals, the disk and all the manufacturing process and SHIPPING for these Mac OS X disks – then you can make a $29.99 operating system, Just wondering why microsoft is still behind on this )

iOS 5 – new OS for your revolutionary device

Here are the WWDC 2011 presented iOS 5 features :
1 – Notification Center
No more interrupting, no more losing the list of notifications if you have the screen locked Notifications Center “is a single place which combines all notifications ” “just swipe your finger down from the top to get your notifications center”.

2 – Newsstand
Magazines and news papers will be available on your iPhone, in a single place that combines all of them (by purchase). The best part is that you get music and video inside the news. This feature downloads in background all the papers and data. (unfortunately you need a good data plan, without it, a music magazine will download while you are sleeping, increasing your bill)

3 – Twitter – new twitter app integrated

4 – Safari Updates – improved reading options. reading list – to read your page later – this will sync up on your Mac or PC and a great feature: tabs for iPads.

5 – Reminders (text, date, location so on)
Love the “location” feature, you can now program reminders by GPS location (if you leave or arrive somewhere). The downside to this is that I can’t imagine what your battery life will get if you use it a lot. Reminders will sync with Exchange on windows and iCal.

6 – Camera
Lock screen shortcut, use the volume up button to take the photo, grid lines, pinch to zoom, AE/AF lock using your finger and basic photo editing features.

7 – Mail
Rich text formatting, drag addresses, support for flagging, search entire content from the mail server, swipe to inbox gestures, added support for S/MIME and built-in dictionary.

9 – PC-FREE
No more “plug in iTunes to setup”, Software Updates are OTA (Over-The-Air), Delta Updates you download only the updates not the entire OS, create/delete calendars from iOS.

10 – iMessage
New message system between iOS devices iPhone-iPad-iPod Touch, supported over WiFi and 3G.
You can exchange:
– text, photos, video, contacts, etc
– delivery receipts (confirmation of sending)
– read receipts (confirmation of read)
– typing indication
– pushed to all devices

The new iOS 5 includes also over 200+ new features, here are a few that were mentioned in the WWDC 2011 conference:
– Split Keyboard for your iPad if you type with your thumbs
– Game Center “iOS is the most popular gaming platform on the planet” (support for Turn-based games)
– Airplay mirroring (wireless mirroring iPad over Apple TV)
– WiFi Sync to iTunes
– Multitask Gestures

 

iOS 5 will be available this Fall. Will it work on all earlier versions of the iPhone ? – NOPE.
iOS 5 will work only on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2, and iPod Touch 3rd and 4th gen.

iCLOUD
– stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices
– is integrated with your apps so everything happens automatically.

iCloud and MobileMe are not the same thing.

iCloud features:

– Now iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and iMac – can be synced completely automatically through iCloud. You don’t have to be near your mac or iPod to sync your new music.

– You can Sync: contacts, iCal, mail, appstore purchases, keynote presentations, documents,album photos, music (purchased with your Apple Id), books and magazines.

– IBooks also remembers bookmarks so you can read something on your iPhone and continue on iPad.

– Backup – if you get a new phone, everything you purchased (music apps and books, camera roll, device settings, app data, and personal data)

– iTunes Match for $24.99 will scan your music (no upload) that you ripped or purchased from another place, match it with 256kbps AAC DRM-free music from iTunes and you can have the same benefits as music purchased from iTunes.

Limitations include: 1000 photos, 30 Days storage time on the cloud, 5 Gb of storage (mail, documents and backup) for your Apple ID beside purchased music, app, books and photo stream.
Again, you should have a data plan on your mobile device.

And the best part of this – THIS IS FREE. (no more MobileMe year subscription)

Everything looks pretty iNICE.

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Batch re-size your photos using Image Converter One

Image Converter One is a simple and useful batch image conversion utility. The program is freeware, which means that you can use it without any limitations. You can use it to convert most of the popular graphic file formats: JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, GIF, PSD, PCX, RAS, ICO, CUR, WMF, etc.

Image Converter One

read full review download Image Converter One

 

 

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