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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 gets microtransactions in the form of cosmetic changes

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Gaming | Posted: Mar 13, 2013 1:01 am

Activision has finally jumped on the microtransactions train by way of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Call of Duty games have traditionally earned money after launch by selling DLC content packs, normally consisting of new multiplayer and new Zombie maps. Black Ops 2 broke away from this by offering the Peacekeeper SMG in the first DLC pack.




Starting Wednesday, Black Ops 2 players on the Xbox 360 console will be able to change cosmetic features of their gaming experience. By purchasing "Personalization Paks" for 160 Microsoft Points, players will be able to change the look of their guns and gain access to new "Calling Cards."


Also available are World Calling Card Packs, $1, and Extra Slot Packs, $2. For the time being, Activision will likely stay with cosmetic microtransactions only. If they were to introduce microtransactions that changed the way multiplayer worked, Digital Trends notes that they would likely have player riots.

Village Roadshow Set Australian Blu-ray Release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

By: Ben Gourlay | More News: Celebrities & Entertainment | Posted: Mar 13, 2013 12:58 am

Fresh from crossing the $1 billion worldwide box office mark, Village Roadshow Australia have officially set the Blu-ray and DVD release of 2012's Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for May 1st. This comes five weeks after the U.S. release of the film from Warner Home Video.




To be released in three variants; a standard DVD, two disc Blu-ray and three disc 3D Blu-ray, all versions will be the first Australian discs to come with the Ultraviolet digital rights system which has been employed in the United States for some time, allowing for format agnostic playback on multiple devices, including set top media players, tablets, phones and computers.


Based on the much loved book by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey split critics on release, with many disenfranchised with the 48 fps visuals. My review for the film can be found here.

Continue reading 'Village Roadshow Set Australian Blu-ray Release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' (full post)

Google leaves behind code in Chrome that indicates Google Now may be imminent

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Internet Browsers | Posted: Mar 13, 2013 12:31 am

Chromium expert Francis Beaufort was digging around the open source Chromium browser code and found crumbs of evidence that Google Now might be coming to Chrome for Windows and ChromeOS. This code was left behind by Google engineers who were working on the Chromium browser.




Google Now is one of the main features introduced in Android Jelly Bean. It has won numerous awards from websites and publications for being incredibly innovative. It was only a matter of time before Google Now was introduced into the Chrome browser. While it hasn't been introduced quite yet, Google's intentions do appear to show that it is coming.


But there is no sign of Google Now in Google Chrome for Mac. This is a curious move, but not completely unexpected. Google would, of course, like to keep key features away from its rival, but at what cost to the consumer? We'll know more when Google actually confirms the existence of Google Now in Chrome.

Acer debuts upgraded C7 Chromebook, comes with more RAM, longer battery life, larger price tag

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Laptops | Posted: Mar 12, 2013 11:32 pm

Acer has announced a new version of its C7 Chromebook that comes with more RAM and longer battery life. Of course, these upgrades come for a price. The original C7 retailed for $199 and came with around 4 hours of battery life and 2GB of RAM. The new C710-2055 model will set you back $280.




For the additional $81, customers will get around two extra hours of battery life. Along with the larger 6-cell battery, the RAM has been upped from 2GB to 4GB. This puts the Chromebook into the price range of cheaper Windows laptops and the iPad mini. It also makes the purchase less of an impulse purchase and one that actually requires a bit of thought.


Gregg Prendergast, vice president, U.S. Commercial Sales, Acer America:

Chromebooks are an ideal option for schools and districts that want to quickly implement a technology program that will significantly enhance student learning. The Acer C7 Chromebook delivers the advanced capabilities that will help students excel in all areas of their education. In addition, the Acer C7 Chromebook is incredibly affordable as a stand-alone product, and even more affordable when schools consider the reduced total cost of ownership thanks to its manageability and security features.

Google Glass will support prescription lenses, just not in Explorer Edition

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Virtual & Augmented Reality | Posted: Mar 12, 2013 11:02 pm

Google has made a post on the Project Glass Google+ page to confirm that future versions of Google Glass will come with support for prescription lenses. Google says that Glass will be modular, which will allow frames and lenses to be interchangeable. This will allow prescription lenses to be fitted to Glass.




The Glass design is modular, so you will be able to add frames and lenses that match your prescription. We understand how important this is and we've been working hard on it. We're still perfecting the design for prescription frames. Although the frames won't be ready for the Explorer Edition's release, hang in there -- you can expect to see them later this year.


This is good news for prescription eyeglass wearers around the world. While they may have to wait a bit longer to get a pair of Glass, they will eventually not be left out of the fun. Google expects to launch a pair of Glass that supports prescription lenses before the holiday season.

Samsung to fix Galaxy S3 lock screen bug 'shortly', Lookout has temporary fix in Play Store

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Mar 12, 2013 10:29 pm

Samsung will be issuing a fix for a bug that allows unfettered access to a locked Galaxy S3's files "shortly". Meanwhile, Lookout, the company behind the popular antivirus app of the same name, has already produced a fix that is currently available through the Google Play Store.




Lookout describes how their app protects devices from being exploited through this particular bug: "When Lookout detects the emergency contact dialer has been backgrounded, we preemptively bring it back to the forefront so that the rest of the phone cannot be accessed."


Lookout says they expect Samsung to be released shortly, though an official statement from Samsung has not been given. Lookout highly recommends updating to the latest patch whenever Samsung makes it available. You can read Lookout's full blog post about the issue here. To read more about the bug in the Galaxy S III, you can see our other coverage.

Google launches 'Help for Hacked Sites' series of articles and videos

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Mar 12, 2013 10:01 pm

Google doesn't like labeling sites hacked. And, as they say, "friends help friends recover their hacked sites." That's why Google has launched a series of articles and videos to help compromised websites recover from the hack, protect from future hacks, and get their website off of Google's blacklist.



The first video in the series, seen above, answers some of the more common and simple questions: Why would someone ever want to hack my site?; How was someone able to hack my site?; What's the process for fixing it and how long will it take?.


Google has also provided this website which offers more detailed information on various topics. Google offers up the following tips to keep your site safe and secure:


  • Be vigilant about keeping software updated.
  • Understand the security practices of all applications, plug-ins, third-party software, and so on, before you install them on your server. A security vulnerability in one software application can affect the safety of your entire site.
  • Remove unnecessary or unused software.
  • Enforce creation of strong passwords.
  • Keep all devices used to log in to your servers secure (updated operating system and browser).
  • Make regular, automated site backups.

Continue reading 'Google launches 'Help for Hacked Sites' series of articles and videos' (full post)

NASA confirms Mars was once able to support life

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: Mar 12, 2013 9:31 pm

In the on-going news surrounding America's favorite space rover, NASA has confirmed that Mars was once suitable for life. These results come from the successful drilling of a rock by the Curiosity rover and subsequent analysis of the powdered rock.




John Grotzinger, Curiosity project scientist:

We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life that, if this water had been around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it.


The rock contained sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon. All of these elements are key to life and show that Mars could have once supported life.


David Blake, principal investigator for Curiosity's CheMin instrument:

I think this is probably the only definitively habitable environment [outside of Earth] that we have described and recorded


Previous results from the Opportunity rover, which was located on a different portion of Mars, found that the previous aqueous environment was extremely acidic and not suitable for life. With these results, it becomes even more likely and possible that extra-terrestrial life exists somewhere in the universe.


How do you feel about these results?

HTC One UK launch delayed by two weeks, will launch March 29

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Mar 12, 2013 9:03 pm

HTC has delayed the UK launch of the new HTC One by two weeks, pushing the launch date back to March 29. This delay does not appear to be affecting other market's roll outs, though the USA and international customers will still have to wait a bit longer. HTC says they will reach some markets by the end of March, with others taking place in April.




"We will start fulfilling pre-orders by end March in certain markets and will roll out to more markets as we approach April."


A delay couldn't come at a worse time. Samsung is planning on announcing their new Galaxy S IV at a New York press event on March 14. Rumors of an iPhone 5S launch in June also put pressure on HTC to perform. HTC is relying on this One device to make or break the company. For competition's sake, let's hope it's the former.

Sony Xperia TL gets update to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Mar 12, 2013 8:45 pm

AT&T has announced that the Sony Xperia TL will be getting an update to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The roll out will continue to be slow, though some users will be getting the update right away. The update brings with it the new features that have been added to Android 4.2, including Google Now.




AT&T says that the following features will be included in the update:


  • Improved photography: When users have their phones set to Superior Auto mode, enhancements have been made so that the camera is even better at automatically adjusting its settings. Plus, the phone was given new HDR capabilities, which means that the camera will actually take three different photos, each in a different light setting, and then combine all three into a single photo, resulting in optimum quality.
  • Data usage calculator: This is great for anyone who has a habit of going over their monthly data limit. They will now be able to set a cap on the amount of data they're able to use each month and cut back on those hefty overage charges.
  • SMS MMS notification display: Now, going forward, the full text in an SMS and any photo attached in an MMS will display in full in the phone's notification window.


If you're a Sony Xperia TL user, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the new update.