Posts Tagged ‘store’

Apple and Google fighting for mobile exclusivity deals

Apple and Google fighting for mobile exclusivity deals

Plants Vs Zombies 2 was given a prominent position in the Apple App Store in exchange for a two month exclusivity window on the platform.

Apple and Google are offering popular games premium placement in their app stores in order to win exclusivity for their platforms.

According to the Wall Street Journal, sources close to the matter say promotional boosts are being used to ensure that popular games are appearing on one mobile operating system before the other in an effort to win a larger user base.

Plants Vs Zombies 2 received one such deal, launching in August 2013 on iOS and featuring prominently in the Apple App Store. In exchange for this placement, EA withheld the game from Android devices until October. Cut the Rope 2 also had a similar deal in place which saw it available on iOS for three months before an Android version was released.

Whilst exclusivity deals are nothing new for console games, it is something that has been avoided with mobile games up until now. Historically, however, the pattern of a game appearing on iOS first and then Android later is less surprising as developers have previously found iOS to be a more lucrative platform.

Securing exclusivity on popular mobile games is considered to be a sign of the mobile device war stepping up. Amazon has also tried gaining exclusivity deals in the same manner for its Kindle devices which have access to a different Android app ecosystem.

‘When people love a game, and it’s not available on an alternate platform, they’ll change platforms,’ head of Kongregate Emily Greer told the Wall Street Journal. ‘The level of attachment a person has to a game can exceed almost anything.’

For mobile developers, a game gaining a featured spot in the App Store can mean the difference between financial success or failure. Apple has recently been experimenting with new ways of curating gaming content and last month unveiled the Indie Game Showcase section in an attempt to promote more titles.

What do you think of such exclusivity deals? Are they likely to sway you one way or another when it comes to choosing your mobile platform? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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LaCie customers hit by data breach

LaCie customers hit by data breach

Storage specialist LaCie has warned customers of a data breach which has resulted in ne’er-do-wells making off with usernames, passwords and credit card details.

Storage specialist LaCie has warned customers of a major data breach that may have compromised their personal data used for purchases between March 2013 and 2014.

The hole in the company’s servers is not, it has been quick to reassure customers, indicative of the security of its storage products in general; no customer data stored on the company’s cloud services or network-connected storage devices is thought to be involved in the breach. Rather, the attack targeted the company’s ecommerce system, making off with transaction information for purchases made in the last year.

On March 19, 2014, the FBI informed LaCie that it found indications that an unauthorised person used malware to gain access to information from customer transactions that were made through LaCie’s website,‘ the company explained to customers in a statement made nearly a month after it was alerted to the breach. ‘We believe that transactions made between March 27, 2013 and March 10, 2014 were affected. The information that may have been accessed by the unauthorised person may include customers’ names, addresses, email addresses, and payment card numbers and card expiration dates. Customers’ LaCie website user names and passwords could also have been accessed, which is why we required a reset of all passwords.

LaCie has not confirmed how the data was stored; while credit card information should be encrypted, password are better stored as salted one-way hashes which become much harder for an attacker to crack. Either way, those with LaCie accounts are advised to change their passwords, both on the LaCie service itself and anywhere else where the same or similar password was used, and to keep a close eye on their credit card statements for unauthorised activity.

As a precaution, we have temporarily disabled the ecommerce portion of the LaCie website while we transition to a provider that specialises in secure payment processing services,‘ the company added. ‘We will resume accepting online orders once we have completed the transition.

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NSA denies prior knowledge of Heartbleed vuln

NSA denies prior knowledge of Heartbleed vuln

The US National Security Agency has denied any knowledge of the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability prior to it going public, stating it is biased towards responsible disclosure.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has denied claims that it knew about the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL before it was made public, claiming that it is biased towards seeing such flaws fixed for the greater good than keeping its knowledge a secret to further its intelligence gathering programmes.

The NSA has been in the limelight of late thanks to revelations by former contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden, the source of evidence showing the NSA has been overreaching its charter with massive surveillance programmes against both US and foreign nationals. Documents leaked by Snowden included claims that the NSA works closely with major companies to gain back-door access to code and data, and even works to weaken commercial security products by recommending known-weak ciphers and random number generators.

When news of the Heartbleed vulnerability in popular cryptography library OpenSSL broke last week, many wondered if the NSA was aware of the flaw. Present in the OpenSSL codebase since 2011 and in the wild since 2012, the Heartbleed vulnerability has been proven to leak private keys – allowing the decryption of encrypted traffic, something the NSA captures and stores for several years as part of its intelligence activities.

Many in the industry had wondered why the NSA captured and stored encrypted traffic with no known way to decrypt it, but the Heartbleed bug means that the NSA – or any other attacker – could easily retrieve the private keys required to unlock the encrypted traffic. Suddenly, the NSA’s trove of scrambled data made a lot of sense – leading many to claim on sites like Bloomberg that the NSA knew of Heartbleed and had been exploiting the vulnerability for years.

The NSA has, naturally, denied this. ‘Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before 2014 are wrong,‘ the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has stated. The denial has been followed by claims made to The New York Times that the NSA and other US intelligence agencies follow a process ‘biased toward responsibly disclosing such vulnerabilities.

The same article, however, quotes officials as admitting that while President Barack Obama has instructed the NSA and other agencies to follow responsible disclosure practices when flaws are found, there exists a loophole which allows vulnerabilities to be withheld for future exploitation if there is a ‘clear national security or law enforcement need‘ – something critics claim could well have applied to knowledge of the Heartbleed vulnerability, given the NSA’s corpus of encrypted data.

The Heartbleed vulnerability is still being patched, with sites affected by the flaw having to upgrade to a newer release of OpenSSL and revoke and replace their certificates before users can safely change their passwords and, where available, enable two-factor authentication.

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Wolfenstein’s Doom beta bonus a next-gen exclusive

Wolfenstein's Doom beta bonus a next-gen exclusive

Those buying Wolfenstein: The New Order for access to the secretive Doom beta are advised that it won’t be available on the Xbox 360 or PS3.

Bethesda has warned gamers that the upcoming beta version of wholly-owned subsidiary id Software’s Doom reboot will be exclusively available on next-generation platforms, including PC.

While id Software itself has so far kept a lid on exactly what the reboot of its seminal Doom franchise, considered by many to have truly kicked off the first-person shooter craze as the follow-up to Wolfenstein 3D, Bethesda had previously announced that access to a closed beta would be a benefit of pre-ordering Wolfenstein: The New Order. With the game launching on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows, that was considered to be an open offer to users of all platforms; sadly, Bethesda has now clarified that isn’t the case.

While Wolfenstein: The New Order will be available on previous- and latest-generation consoles as well as Windows, the Doom beta will be exclusively available on latest-generation hardware: Windows PCs, the PS4 and the Xbox One. Those pre-ordering Wolfenstein: The New Order specifically for access to the Doom beta, then, should be aware that while Xbox 360 and PS3 orders will still receive beta codes, these will only be redeemable on their respective replacements: Xbox 360 gamers will need an Xbox One to redeem the code, while PS3 gamers will need a PS4.

For gamers with both consoles and an adequately-specced PC, the news that the beta codes won’t be redeemable cross-platform – you can’t pre-order Wolfenstein: The New Order on PS3 and use the code to gain access to the Windows beta – may be a blow, but could suggest great things in store for the Doom reboot. Following the poor critical reception of 2005′s Doom 3, id Software has concentrated on other projects; if Doom proves, like its beta, to be exclusively available on the very latest console and PC hardware, it could represent a return to form with the potential for impressive visuals and ground-breaking technology.

For now, though, this is all conjecture: neither Bethesda nor its id Software subsidiary have spoken publicly on what form the new Doom will take, nor whether its beta programme will open on the 20th of May when Wolfenstein: The New Order launches.

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Microsoft Build 2014 keynote: the highlights

Microsoft Build 2014 keynote: the highlights

Microsoft’s Build keynote this year included plenty of surprises, from universal apps that can run on Windows devices as well as the Xbox One to the impending return of the Start Menu.

Attendees at Microsoft’s annual Build summit last night were treated to a three-hour keynote speech in which the company announced some dramatic diversions from the norm – including free copies of Windows for phones and tablets, the return of the Start Menu, and Windows apps on the Xbox One.

It’s usual for Microsoft to queue up announcements for the Build event, which is the biggest in its calendar; it’s not usual, however, for it to have quite so many announcements to make as during its keynote session at last night’s opening. Some of the changes, in particular the release of free copies of Windows for mobile devices, will likely have a heavy impact on the future of the company – and it’s not hard to see new chief executive Satya Nadella, a man who has already bemoaned the company’s delayed entry into the mobile market, as the driving force behind much of what occurred last night.

Windows 8.1 Update 1
Microsoft announced the impending launch of Windows 8.1 Update 1, the first major overhaul for what was previously known as Windows Blue. Much of the changes are user experience oriented, rather than under-the-hood overhauls, and many will be welcomed by users: the Desktop and Modern UIs are to be more closely linked, with Modern UI apps being accessible in windowed form from the Desktop interface – allowing a mixing of old and new which was previously verboten.

The new update will also include faster access to the Windows Store – more on which later – by pre-pinning it to the taskbar, and the ability to power off or restart your PC, perform searches and access settings are now available on the main Start Screen instead of hidden off to the side. The update, Microsoft has confirmed, will launch on the 8th of April – the same date, coincidentally, that Windows XP enters official end of life (EOL) status.

The biggest change, however, will have to wait for a future update: the reintroduction of the Start Menu, the absence of which is many users’ biggest bugbear surrounding Windows 8 and newer. Based heavily on the Windows 7 Start Menu, the new version will integrated selected functionality – like Live Tiles – from the Start Screen in an attempt to create a hybrid that will appeal to all. No formal date has been offered for its availability, however.

Mobile Push
A large portion of the keynote was dedicated to Microsoft’s increasingly heavy push to mobile users, where is software is in a distinct minority. As well as new Windows Phone 8.1 devices from Nokia and Samsung, the company confirmed that the new release – a free upgrade to all Nokia Windows Phone 8 handsets – will include an Action Centre which appears to riff on the similar functionality available in Google’s rival Android platform.

The company also announced Cortana, its answer to the popularity of voice-activated assistants Google Now and Siri. Based on the artificial intelligence from the Halo series – which, as a major plot point, went crazy, so that’s an interesting marketing angle to take – Cortana will be a standard feature of Windows Phone 8.1.

Finally, Microsoft made what could possibly be the only announcement that could give it real impetus in the fight against Google: Windows will now be licensable at zero cost on all smartphones and tablet devices with a screen size of less than nine inches. Although Google’s basic Android OS is also free – and, in fact, largely open-source – the company has charged for access to the Google Play app store and other Google-specific functionality, while Microsoft’s impressive portfolio of patents has been used to ‘encourage’ Android licensees – including big names like Samsung – to pay Microsoft a fee for every handset shipped.

To put it bluntly: Microsoft’s free Windows for mobiles is cheaper than Google’s free Android – no mean feat.

Universal Apps
The final surprise of the event was confirmation of a long-held rumour that Microsoft’s Xbox One console will be able to run Windows applications. Using a new cross-platform runtime environment, Microsoft explained, developers will be able to build apps that can run on Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone and Xbox One – and buyers can pay once to run the app on any of the aforementioned devices.

The move doesn’t exactly open up the Xbox ecosystem – apps available on the Xbox One will be even more heavily curated than those available on Windows Phone, with developers needing to seek Microsoft’s approval – but with promises that DirectX 12 will lead to similar cross-platform functionality for games, it’s hard to see it as bad news.

If the above summary isn’t enough for your appetite, the full keynote session featuring speakers David Treadwell, Joe Belfiore, Stephen Elop, Terry Myerson and new leader Satya Nadella is available for your three-hour viewing pleasure.

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Mod of the Month March 2014

Mod of the Month March 2014

We’re finally getting some decent weather here in the UK after a pretty appalling winter so those of us that have been flooded, frozen in or just plain don’t like tinkering out in the shed when it’s a bit nippy, are gearing up for a spring and summer full of modding. There’s already been plenty of action in our modding forum this month too. Several projects have been completed, as you can see in our monthly Modding Update, and there are some fantastic in-progress projects in the works too.

We’ve picked six of our favourites this month, which we’ve highlighted over the next few pages and you can vote for the ones that catch your eye too. Head over to our modding section and modding and project log forums to see more – there are plenty of amazing projects to see and guides to follow. We’ve also got our Case Mod Index and Scratchbuild Index too – you can see what other people have done modding-wise with particular cases or build materials and we give a prize to one lucky entrant each month.

Mod of the month is proudly sponsored by Mnpctech. The Mnpctech guys are regulars on our forums and, in addition to being avid modders themselves with some awesome projects to their names, the Mnpctech online store is also well worth a visit from every modder.

Mod of the Month March 2014
The winner of Mod of the Month will get one of these awesome prizes from the Mnpctech store itself. There will be some new and exciting products from Mnpctech on the horizon too, but for now feast your eyes on these pieces of true PC bling.

Mod of the Month March 2014

Prize 1 – Pair of 120mm RED Sharkoon Shark Blade Silent Cooling Fans

Sharkoon SHARK Blade fans are equipped with a fluid bearing for long life and ultra-smooth operation. The special 3D curved design with striped air guides steers the airflow straight through the fan blades, thus preventing air turbulence – the main cause of wind noise. Fan speed: 1000 rpm, Start voltage: 7 V (DC), Max. airflow: ~56m³/h (33 CFM), Max air pressure: 2.63 mm-H2O, Noise level: 19 dB (A)

Mod of the Month March 2014

Prize 2 – Mnpctech Screw’d M3 PC Radiator Screws

“M3 Radiator Screw’d” fasteners have anodized rings to dress up radiator grills or match your custom PC accessories or liquid cooling components. They work with the following PC Radiator Manufacturers with M3 threads.
*Winner has choice of 3 sets of same color and size (12 total)

Mod of the Month March 2014

Prize 3 – Pair of Modder’s Work Gloves

These work gloves are made from combination of syntrex leather and spandex for dexterity. Recommended for use with power or hand tools or bending Acrylic or PETG tubing with heat gun.

Thanks to Mnpctech for stumping up such fantastic prizes again this month. We’ve got six very promising projects for you again, so it’s time to vote for your favourites. Don’t forget that you can vote for more than one project if you’re finding it tough to choose one over the others. MOTM is a competition for in-progress projects. You should consider potential, originality, execution and show of skill when voting.

This Month’s Contenders

  • Minecraft Creeper MbKr by kier
  • Minions Mod by Ronnie Hara
  • Project KUBUS by XTSX
  • R.O.G Reactor by Zsolt Guriga
  • The G5-yufi by thegyufi
  • ZdMods – Project 720 by Meelobee

Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014
Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014

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Samsung Galaxy S5 Accessories Officially Unveiled

Samsung Galaxy S5 Accessories Officially Unveiled

The Samsung Galaxy S5 S View case.

Samsung has unveiled its range of official Samsug Galaxy S5 accessories, adding wireless charging and waterproof cases to the mix.

Like with the Galaxy S4 of last year, Samsung is pinning its hopes on the S View case. This flip-open cover, replaces the back plate of the phone and folds round to cover the front too, except for a little window up top that lets you peek a small portion of the phone’s screen.

The phone recognises the case so switches to an S View mode when the cover is closed, with the user interface reshuffling to suit the little viewport. The S View is also rater to IP67 dust and water resistance, like the phone with it’s standard back plate, so is good for the occasional dunking.

The other standout accessory is the wireless charging kit that consists of a back plate and base. The former simply replaces the standard back and adds in the ability to couple with compatible wireless charging bases, like the latter. Although the S4 also had this accessory it is particularly pertinent to the S5 given its waterproof rating – with wireless charging there should be far fewer reasons to remove the cover on the microUSB 3.0 port.

Also available will be a multi-charging cable, which is simply a three-way microUSB cable for charging up to three devices at any one time.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Accessories Officially UnveiledSamsung Galaxy S5 Accessories Officially Unveiled
Samsung Galaxy S5 Accessories Officially UnveiledSamsung Galaxy S5 Accessories Officially Unveiled

The S-View Cover, Wireless Charging Kit and Multi-Charging Cable will be available at the e-Store, Samsung Experience Stores and Brand Store Westfield Stratford. Pricing is yet to be announced.

Are you tempted by Samsung’s latest smartphone or is the soon to be announced HTC One M8 more your thing?

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Double Fine becomes third party publisher with Escape Goat 2

Double Fine becomes third party publisher with Escape Goat 2

The original Escape Goat was launched in 2011. Its sequel only started life as a high-res art experiment.

Indie studio Double Fine has entered the third party publishing game with the release of puzzle platformer Escape Goat 2.

The game, a follow up to 2011’s Escape Goat, originally started life as developer Ian Stocker of MagicalTimeBean was experimenting to see how the first game would look with higher resolution art.

’I never imagined it would come this far, launching along with a nod of approval and publishing support from Double Fine,’ said Stocker.

The Escape Goat series pits players in the hooves of a goat imprisoned in a dungeon for witchcraft and needing to escape.

The last part of the game’s development was completed from the Double Fine offices in San Francisco where MagicalTimeBean was allowed in to use the studio’s resources during the Indie Omega Jam.

‘It’s super rad to be surrounded by other independent developers who are making cool stuff and are passionate about what they are doing,’ said Double Fine senior publishing manager Greg Rice. ’I’m really glad we could help them out and hope we can do this with more developers in the future!’

Double Fine closes the announcement by offering a contact email address for other indie developers to get in touch with the studio and talk about other potential publishing partnerships.

Escape Goat 2 is currently available on Steam, The Humbe Store and Good Old Games with a 10% discount for its launch week. The title is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux systems.

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Apple makes indie push on app store

Apple makes indie push on app store

The Indie Game Showcase will highlight a single developer’s library and games that it recommends.

Apple has launched a new Indie Game Showcase section on its App Store, promoting indie titles on its digital marketplace.

The section will be curated by individual indie developers who will promote not only their own titles, but also their favourite games that they feel are deserving of the attention.

Beat Sneak Bandit developer Simogo is the first developer to have the spotlight shone at them with its other games Year Walk and Device 6 also highlighted.

‘Independent studios prove that what really matters is the size of your dream,’ reads the description for the showcase on the app store.

Apple has relatively recently cracked down on recommendations by way of promotion for other apps on the app store with clause 2.25 of the App Store Review Guidelines. PocketGamer picked up on the change and mentioned that this could be intended to crack down on app-promotion services.

The new indie section appears to be a legitimate way around this and offer a chance to produce non-Apple curated sections in the app store, albeit for a very small minority of people.

Being featured on the Apple App Store is often considered a make-or-break necessity for many indie titles. With well over 1 million apps available on the app store, it is very easy for a single title to get swamped and overlooked.

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Restaurant uses parachutes, PayPal to deliver sandwiches


A woman removes the parachute from her just-landed “jaffle,” a toasted sandwich popular in Australia.

Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

Waiters are so last century. These days, sushi is flown to your table via a quadcopter and beer is dropped out of the sky from an octocopter. Now, a new pop-up restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, has added another, albeit less high-tech, method of food delivery: sandwiches that parachute several stories down to customers waiting on the street.

The novel nosh drop is the brainchild of David McDonald and Adam Grant, who make the toasted sandwiches, called “jaffles,” after people order and pay for them via PayPal on their Web site. The customers then stand on an “X” on the sidewalk and wait for their meal to drop down like mana from heaven. The locations change, and customers are kept up to date via Facebook. The company is fittingly called Jafflechutes.

The sandwiches are pretty basic — either cheese and ham for $6 AUD ($5.45) or cheese and tomato for $5 AUD — but this restaurant definitely seems to be more about style than substance.

Interestingly, parachute-delivered food could have a real benefit for would-be restauranteurs, as pointed out by Pop-Up City. Storefronts on busy city streets can demand super-steep rents. If chefs can prepare food from lesser-priced spaces higher up in buildings and then just throw it out the window to their customers, they could test out culinary concepts in a much less-expensive way. Plus, there are no pesky waiters to pay or tables to clean up.

At the moment, “Melbourne’s first float-down eatery,” as Jafflechutes terms itself, is taking a break to prepare for a roadshow to New York. So if you happen to be in the Big Apple over the next few months, be sure to keep your eyes on the sky. You just might see a sandwich floating your way. And if you’re in Melbourne, you can help the Jafflechuters create 1,000 new parachutes at its workshop on March 29, where they promise: “There’ll be beer nearby, some tunes, and a full afternoon’s worth of jafflechuting anecdotes (and other tall stories). We’re even working on a way to allow you to be recognised for every parachute that you make!”

(Via Pop-Up City)

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